Rutherford, 'Canes ready to win fans back
Posted January 15, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — While his team continues to prepare for Saturday's season-opening tilt against the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday he understands that the club has work to do in repairing relationships with some fans angered by a 113-day lockout that forced the cancellation of nearly half the regular season.
Some of that work started immediately after the players' union and league agreed to end the work stoppage, and more of it will continue during two home games next week when the Hurricanes promotional department offers dozens of special incentives for returning fans.
"Collective bargaining is always tough, but where we ended up with the players, this deal could have gotten done sooner and we wouldn't have missed games," Rutherford said. "I apologize to all of the people it impacted. I was as frustrated and disappointed as anyone."
When the Hurricanes welcome Tampa Bay Jan. 22 and Buffalo Jan. 24, fans can expect to see multiple giveaways,including suites on the club level of PNC Arena, on-ice seats and replica jerseys, Rutherford said.
"These are things we don't normally do, and we're going to do the best we can to heal some of those wounds," Rutherford said. "You can never make up to the fans what we all went through the last six months, but all we can do is the best we can."
Rutherford and others associated with the team have talked at length in recent days about how an improved product on the ice will also help bring fans back into the fold. Several offseason moves, including the addition of talented offensive players Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin and the return of defenseman Joe Corvo, have Rutherford excited about the possibilities during a 48-game regular season.
"We certainly we feel we have a much better chance to compete," Rutherford said. "We've invested more money from a pay point of view than we ever have before. We're excited about getting our team back on the ice."
Two days after officially returning to work, the players on Tuesday will be back in action at Raleigh Center Ice for a Red and White scrimmage at noon. The teams will be decided at the rink, and according to head coach Kirk Muller, the stakes will be determined by the players.
Forwards Zac Dalpe, Riley Nash and Brett Sutter, all players who have played in the American Hockey League during the lockout, were called up from Charlotte to join the 'Canes for Tuesday's scrimmage.
The scrimmage is open to the public.