We may be enduring a lockout of one of our favourite Canadian pastimes; regardless, the season is upon us. As a born and raised hockey fan, I want you to know that the NHL’s decision to lockout doesn’t have to get you down. In fact, there’s lots of hockey out there.
We are blessed with cold enough winters that we can play ice hockey outside – for free – for several months of the year. We have community centres and skating rink options where kids can strap on skates, grab a stick and puck, and play for hours. We have leagues for every age and every skill level, and if you’re not ready for a league, there’s always shinny, where players of all skill levels hit the ice for some good ol’ hockey fun. And finally, we’ve got the OHL and the AHL – some of the best hockey in the world. The only downside is that whether you’re watching or playing, hockey can be expensive. What are some ways to enjoy the sport of hockey for cheaper?
Play Hockey For Less
If you’re planning on buying equipment for the very first time, it’s always best to either buy used or at the end of the season. You can get a decent pair of new skates for as little as $20. Be sure to check out Groupon and WagJag deals - they’re always offering sport-related discounts. If you don't mind used, sites like Kijiji are worth a look as well.
If you prefer purchasing from a main sports retailer, however, pick a credit card with rewards designed specifically for the sports enthusiast. The ScotiaHockey NHL Visa will pay out five points on the dollar when you shop at SportChek, redeemable for VIP NHL merchandise, tickets, and further discounts when shopping at NHL's official online store, shop.canada.NHL.com.
Score More Ice Time
Check your local community centre for free ice time, and ask around about leagues. If you can get enough people together, you can rent a rink for an hour or two and have your own game. If your city allows it, propose an outdoor community rink run by a committee of volunteers. Where I live, we have 17 rinks throughout the city, all managed by volunteers and maintained by those that use them.
Get Your Game Fix
If you think playing hockey is expensive, watching hockey can be even more so. An NHL ticket in some cities will set you back $100-$200 each! And that doesn’t even include the cost of beer, pop and munchies, never mind the cost of souvenirs. Maybe the lockout is a blessing in disguise – think of all the money you’ll save.
For those of us who can’t get through the winter without hockey, there are outlets. Do a quick search and you’ll find that you’re likely close to either an OHL or AHL team. Tickets to the game will cost you about $20-$25, depending on where you’re sitting. Drinks and snacks can still be expensive, but are far less expensive than they are at NHL games. And souvenirs are cheaper too. Stuff some snacks in your purse – they don’t check them like they do at NHL games – and just pay the price of a drink.
For the Pro Holdouts
If you're a diehard fan who shelled out for season tickets, the lockout might just have an attractive payout for you. In an attempt to cling to box holder revenue, many teams are offering accumulating interest to fans who choose to keep their purchase on account rather than demand a refund. In an article in the Financial Post, Pat Park, director of media relations for the Toronto Maple Leafs said, “Leafs season ticket holders have an option: They can choose to be refunded monthly, should games be cancelled, and receive 1% interest, or they can leave their money on account where they will earn 5% interest."
Other teams across Canada, including the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets, along with teams south of the border, are also treating their sold ticket packages as mini investments. The balance will go toward the purchase of future tickets (once the players are back on the ice, that is).