When I was told that we were going to have to sell a thousand tickets to the AHL Winter Classic, I knew that it wasn’t going to be a problem. I knew that it was going to be something that we could do collectively. The only problem was that we had to get the money for a deposit, we had to have the money ready for a thousand tickets so that we could reserve the ice slot, and so we could get the tickets in our hands.
When I first talked to the representative from the Wells Fargo Center, I was told that we would have the slot after the AHL Winter Classic. However, we weren’t quick enough. Before I could even get the word out to see who was interested, the slot was taken. I called back a few days later with more interest, but was told again that the slot was taken and that there were none left. He then said that if any slots were to open, that he would call me and that we were next in line. Anyone that called after us was simply being turned away. I began the prep work and organization for the event immediately, because I took what he said in true Dumb and Dumber fashion. I took what he said as, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.”
And I’m glad that I did, because if I didn’t start organizing when I did, there is no way that things would have come together the way that they did.
If this was going to happen, I wanted to be sure that it was done right. The collective group that was playing was from all over. Sure, most of them were from Legacy, but not everyone, and not everyone had both Red and White jerseys. So, I began work on getting jerseys made for the game. However, I knew it was going to be problematic for many reasons. Mostly because jerseys are very, very expensive and people might not want to buy them. It didn’t help matters that the game was going to be less than two weeks after Christmas. I couldn’t expect people to have money to put out, so I began working on a sponsor and ways to raise money.
Before I began raising money though, for something that might not even exist, I had to get confirmation that it could be done. We have a long standing relationship with the guys at the Hockey Shed, but even they have their limitations. They have done all of our jerseys for us over the past seven years, and I knew that if anyone would get it done, and done right, it would be them. After a brief phone call, I was assured that it could absolutely be done in our limited time frame. Now, I just needed an ice slot, the money for the tickets/jerseys and to confirm the roster.
On December 12th, I received a phone call. It was three weeks away from the AHL Winter Classic, but we were offered an ice slot if we could get the deposit to them that day. I had to think about it (for about a second), could we sell a thousand tickets in less than three weeks? Could we raise the money for both the jerseys and the tickets? Before I could let logic set in, I accepted the slot. I gave him my credit card, winced, and said charge it.
I put a lot of faith in people, about $12,000 worth.
But now I knew we had something to work towards. I knew that we had a once in a lifetime experience on the horizon. The first person that I went to was Joe Santucci. Joe has been a great guy to Legacy as a team, and to each of us as an individual. Our teams have combated in some great competitive games, and I knew that he would want to be a part of this experience. Before I even said anything, he said that he was in and that he would contribute in any way that he could. Long story short, we raised money for our jerseys through ticket sales to the AHL Winter Classic and thanks to Joe Santucci as a sponsor.
Next was setting the rosters. It didn’t take long. I had to have people that were committed and that had money. I kind of knew before I even asked who would want to do it and who wouldn’t. Sure, in hindsight, I do wish a few people had taken part, but I wasn’t about to make anyone do it. I didn’t have the time, and if they weren’t interested enough, well, then that was going to be on them. I just needed a general idea of who we would have so that I could order the jerseys and get the process underway.
I had already determined that we would mimic the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. We would be using Rangers and Flyers jerseys. We would use the Navy Third jersey for the Rangers, and the former Winter Classic/Current Away jersey for the Flyers. I called to assure inventory on the order because I have had orders take three weeks to process in the past because they didn’t have sufficient inventory in stock, and weren’t exactly the greatest customer service company to call and tell the customer that. (Here’s to you Hockeymonkey). But thankfully I did call, because here we ran into a bit of a problem. There were no Flyers jerseys in stock in XL, and the Rangers jerseys had no Mediums. Whatever, I thought. I would just organize it so that players that needed an XL would be on the Rangers, and players that needed Mediums would be put on the Flyers.
Two seconds later, I found out things weren’t so perfect. Somehow, CCM/Reebok hasn’t manufactured their Edge products in quite some time because the socks are out of stock everywhere. This also explains why the Flyers do not have XL jerseys, and why the Rangers do not have Mediums. It also explains why I could not get Capitals socks last year, and why we could not get White Caps goalie jerseys anywhere. This definitely put a kink in my plans because the other colors for these jerseys were even more limited in quantities, and so were the socks. And let’s face it, I didn’t exactly what to be using Panthers and Thrashers jerseys.
So, I put faith in another company and put an order in with Kobe for Flyers socks, and just hoped that the colors would be close enough.
From here, everything started to fall in line, a little bit too fast and a little bit too perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a ton of work and a ton of organization, but it couldn’t have gone any smoother on my end. I received the tickets, I organized them in a spread sheet and began to distribute them to the players on the team. Once they were out, we ended up selling them in less than a week. It was kind of surreal that were able to sell a thousand tickets in less than seven days. Everyone involved did their part, (some did theirs and then some, like Mark Butterline and our late addition to the roster, Tim Kelly).
With the tickets gone, the only thing left was to pick up the jerseys and hit the ice. I had a few roster changes over the two weeks leading up to the Winter Classic, and the Hockey Shed did a wonderful job accommodating the changes on the jerseys. I can’t thank them enough for their part in this.
Two days before the game, I drove up to Havertown, picked them up and headed home. It wasn’t until then that it set in. It wasn’t until I saw the jerseys that I realized just how incredible that this experience was going to be.
Friday, January 6th, a bunch of us met up at Citizen’s Bank Park and tailgated the AHL Winter Classic. We were in good company. The Phantoms won, and we got to eat Santucci’s.
It was the perfect start to a perfect weekend.