Free Tickets, Half-Price Jerseys: After Lockout, NHL Rolls Out Deals to Make Nice with Fans

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The NHL lockout is over, and the shortened season’s first games are taking place this tomorrow. But will fans, who have been frustrated for months while players and team owners squabbled, actually show up as paying customers?

Many NHL teams are worried that quite a few won’t. As a way to apologize for the several-month absence of hockey and simultaneously entice fans back to the arena, teams such as the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars, and San Jose Sharks are rolling out discounts and promotions, especially during the early part of the season when fans are most likely to still be bitter.

The deals include free and half-off ticket specials, across-the-board discounts on team gear purchases, and complimentary food and beverages from arena concession stands. The Chronicle News Services highlighted the special offers on tickets and merchandise from the San Jose Sharks and a few other NHL teams. Here are a few more:

Carolina Hurricanes: Half-off opening night tickets if purchased by January 17; $1 concessions (hot dogs, popcorn, soda) at certain home games; 50% off team merchandise at the arena store now through January 24.

(MORE: NHL Lockout Is Over! Guess Who’s Happier Than Fans or Players?)

Columbus Blue Jackets: Two-for-one tickets to the home opener against the Detroit Red Wings; “processing and convenience” fees from Ticketmaster waived for all tickets purchased now through January 21.

Dallas Stars: Free ticket for one child 12 and under with the purchase of each full-priced ticket for home games in January and February.

Detroit Red Wings: Home game tickets throughout the season for as little as $9, only when purchased at the Joe Louis Arena Box Office this Saturday, January 19; also, no Ticketmaster fees for online purchases on the preceding Thursday and Friday (January 17-18).

Florida Panthers: Season ticket packages starting at just $7 per ticket, with free parking and a Panthers jersey included.

Nashville Predators: Tickets for the second home game free when you purchase a ticket to the home opener; upper-deck tickets for sale for just $10 on game days when there isn’t a sell-out.

(MORE: NBA Teams Struggle to Fill Arenas, Even When ‘Cheap Seats’ Are $1 — or Free)

Pittsburgh Penguins: Fans at the first four home games will get their choice of three select concession items—burger, hot dog, nachos, pretzel, fountain drink, etc.—for free. All team merchandise sold at the arena will be 50% off as well for the first four games.

San Jose Sharks: All season-ticket holders get double the usual discount on team merchandise—30% rather than 15%—through the end of January; fans get a free soda with the purchase of a meal at the arena in January; first 200 people to buy tickets to four or more regular season games get a free Sharks jersey; all fans get Shark baseball hats on opening night.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Tickets for as little as $10, plus a free can of Coke or Diet Coke in the arena.