On Friday afternoon, the New Jersey Devils announced that single game tickets for the 2021-22 season will be on sale this Tuesday, August 24 at 1 PM ET. I can appreciate the Devils opening up ticket sales well in advance of the season starting on October 15. Of course, there is a little more meat on this particular bone of news than just that.
A Partially Released Promotional Schedule: The first thing that caught my eye in the announcement is their promotional schedule. These are games where the Devils will do at least a little extra in terms of game presentation or promotion. Games where the organization hopes gets a bit of an additional attention. Unfortunately, it is not a full list and some of these dates are not exactly surprises. We already knew the Devils have home games on Halloween (vs. the always-scary Columbus Blue Jackets at 5 PM), Thanksgiving Eve (vs. Minnesota at 7 PM), and New Year’s Eve (vs. the Edmonton McDavid-Draisaitls at 1 PM). The last home game of the season is typically Fan Appreciation Night and that is indeed the case on April 29 at 7 PM when the Devils host Detroit.
What seems new (to me, at least) is Lunar New Year Night. I am not sure the Devils have done that before. From what little I have looked into it (I literally Googled it), it is celebrated in China (Chunjie), Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet (Losar), Vietnam (Tet), and Korea (Solnal). Given that the date is also the only home game before the not-so-subtle 22-day break in the schedule for the 2022 Winter Olympics, I think that is the driver for this one. We’ll see if it returns in 2023. Oh, the Devils are hosting Toronto that night.
Black History Night is also new. At least, it was not on the 2019-20 schedule. This will be on a Monday night, February 28, against Vancouver at the somewhat odd time of 7:30 PM ET. The only February home game available would have been the 24th against Pittsburgh, which may do better attendance-wise given the opponent and it being the first home game after the apparent Olympic break. It is what it is. I hope it does well.
In terms of other promotional nights announced, they are returning. The Devils’ Hockey Fight Cancer night is on a Sunday night against the Second Rate Rivals, Philadelphia, on November 28. That should draw a good crowd. Pride Night is also returning on January 22. Since February is cut short schedule-wise, it is being held in January. Past Pride Nights have had poor attendance compared with other theme nights. This season could be different as it is on a Saturday night. Provided the Devils are not a bad team in 2021-22, this should be the best attended Pride Night yet. I hope the People Who Matter make it so.
I also hope the Devils announce the rest of their promotional schedule soon. It is weird that they are going through with selling single game tickets without having it finalized. Perhaps the hold up is with other plans? Perhaps they are hoping a future announcement will generate later sales as the season gets closer? We shall see.
Speaking of Promotions, Expect These Devils to be Highlighted: The second part of the announcement that caught my eye was this part:
New Jersey’s young core of Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Mackenzie Blackwood and Ty Smith will be joined by marquee free-agent signee defenseman Dougie Hamilton and the rest of the squad as they begin their 2021-22 season against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, October 15 at 7 p.m.
I would expect these five players to be featured in whatever promotional materials the Devils put out for this coming season. This is not a total surprise. The team is being built around the first three. Hischier is the team captain, Blackwood is the team’s primary goaltender, and Jack Hughes is The Big Deal. Dougie Hamilton was the biggest free agent on the market this season and the Devils signed him. I did raise an eyebrow at Ty Smith being included. I think he is absolutely part of the core that the team should be built around. I did not think the organization would put him out in front like this just yet. I am pleased to see it. Market them hard, Devils.
No Word on COVID Regulations...Yet: The third part of the announcement that attracted my attention came right at the end. There was nothing listed about COVID-19 protocols. Only a link to the Prudential Center’s guide that leads with a COVID Policy section. As of August 21, 2021, it states that “You will not need to show proof of a negative COVID test and/or vaccination to enter Prudential Center.” It also states “Mask usage is strongly recommended for all guests per CDC and State of New Jersey guidance.”
I would expect the first statement to change by the time the season gets closer. In nearby New York City, a proof of vaccination and age is now needed to go inside many places, including professional sports arenas. In other words, Madison Square Garden. Live Nation events will require proof of vaccination or a negative test at all venues starting October 4. The Prudential Center is used by Live Nation. I would expect the organization to announce a similar requirement in coming weeks. I cannot imagine the arena will require proof of vaccination or a negative test for concerts but not for hockey games. Especially with nearby arenas requiring the same. I hope the Devils at least clearly list what they would accept as proof if/when they do announce they want proof of a negative test or vaccination. (Aside: Let me be the umpteenth person to tell you to go get a vaccination. I got it in March and April. After a day or two of feeling bad, I am fine. So will you.)
Members Get a Presale, Flex Members Get an Apparent Raw Deal: If you are a member of the Red and Black - basically some kind of season ticket or ticket plan holder - then check your emails. You may have already received a message about the presale noted in Friday’s announcement. I did. The presale will run from 11 AM to 1 PM on August 24. The presale also comes with a 20% member discount with restrictions (not listed in the email). The organization will also send out a reminder email on the morning of the 24th. So if you are a member like me, then you can get additional tickets before everyone else.
If you are a Flex Member with a plan, then you likely got some unfortunate news. One of the People Who Matter sent me a screenshot of their email they recently received about the 2021-22 season.
Here is the statement, in text:
“Flex Members will have the opportunity to redeem their flex banks in the coming weeks. We are in the process of finalizing upgrades to our flex redemption app to make it more customer friendly and easy as possible to pick the seats you want!
As you may have seen, Individual Game Tickets will go on sale next week. Don’t worry! Great seat locations, for every game, available at your special flex member rate have been held back for our flex redemption process.
You’ll receive your flex tier and time slot to redeem your flex membership shortly. With that, we will include instructions on how to redeem online.”
One of the reasons why fans by a ticket plan is to secure the same seat location for games. There are some spots people prefer to watch a game. Friendships and acquaintances are made easier that way. Consistency has its own value. To that end, it seems backwards that the general public will get the first crack at a particular seat ahead of members for games.
I understand flex plans are, well, flexible by design. This can put the organization in a bind. They may not be able to wait until all of the flex members make their claims for a season to begin in a little less than two months from now. It may be written in the details that flex members do not necessarily get dibs on a particular seat or section; just that they have tickets somewhere in the arena for games of their choice. I think a compromise would work for this: a window of time for flex members to make their claims ahead of the start of individual ticket sales. This way members get the seats they want and the organization knows what is available for the public. Unless there is going to be a hastily-put together window (or one already happened that I am not aware of), this is a bit of a disappointment.
It is possible that there is something I am not understanding about flex membership. I’m a full season ticket holder. I am not intimately familiar with the process. Perhaps you are. Again, maybe it is understood up front that specific seats are not set aside as part of these plans. If true, then it undercuts one of the reasons why fans get ticket plans at all. Still, if you are a Flex Member and this bothers you, then I recommend raising the issue as soon as you can since the individual ticket sales are on Tuesday.
Prices? Not yet. As is tradition under current ownership, ticket prices are not readily available through the Devils’ website. It is sad. I would love to compare what the 2021-22 prices are compared to past seasons. I would suspect they would be marginally higher just because that is what the organization has generally done in most seasons since 2008. They should be lower just to convince more people in through the door after a truncated 2021 season where the Devils could not have fans in the arena for most of the season and the team was awful when a partial crowd was allowed. But I would not hold my breath on that.
Should you have access to a pricing list, then please send it my way. Again, I would love to do an actual comparison of ticket prices for this coming season.
Your Take Are you excited enough for the 2021-22 season to get tickets on Tuesday, August 22? Are you also wondering why the Devils have not fully announced their promotional schedule? Are you also expecting a future announcement regarding COVID-related restrictions for attending games? Do you think Flex member plan holders are getting the short end of a stick? Please leave your answers and other related thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading.