I gotta say, if there was a possible way to fuck up the marketing of the NHL Winter Classic, the various outlets found a way to do so.
I should not have seen empty seats in the stands. But, when you're setting extortionate purchase-terms for season ticket holders (you had to buy tickets to all three WC events if you wanted to be allowed to buy the "main event" tickets), you pretty much guarantee that a significant chunk of the tickets will go to scalpers ticket purchasing services and package promoters. And when those outlets are charging as much for a pair of seats as an entire season ticket plan, you're gonna have a hard time filling all the seats.
Back in November, when the NHL Shop started the Winter Classic marketing blitz, I'd ordered a pair of "authentic" Winter Classic jerseys. I'd figured "since I can't reasonably afford to go to the event, I can splurge on jerseys for my wife and me". So, I put in the order for the customized jerseys - a Hartnell/19 for Donna and a Timonen/44 jersey for myself. The order sheet said to expect fulfillment around Decemer 15th. At the time, that was a nearly three-week wait, but, "whatever".
Christmas came and went and still no jerseys. So, I called up the NHL Shop to find out where the hell they were. I was told, "they haven't arrived at the warehouse, yet, but we're expecting them in soon enough to have them to you in time for the game." This was not at all reassuring, but, "what can you do?"
The week of the Winter Classic, still no box with jerseys were to be found at my door. So, I called them again. "They still haven't arrived at the warehouse". I was a touch incredulous at this and pointed out that there wasn't much time for them to get them and get them to us. I was told how sorry they were for the delay but that there was nothing to be done.
The Winter Classic came and went. Jerseys never arrived and no indication of what the fuck had happened to them showed up in my email. Yesterday, I called to find out "whut the fuck." The person I got hold of gave me the same story of "they still haven't arrived at the warehouse." This time, however, they told me I could call back the following week to open an investigation or I could cancel the order. Having been waiting nearly two months for this disappointment, I told the CSR that I wanted to just cancel the order since they were well late and they were able to give me no indication of when or if I might ever see them. She canceled the order and gave me a cancellation number and told me to expect cancellation confirmation to show up in my Inbox (no such confirmation ever came). She then asked if there was anything else she could do for me. I took this opportunity to point out that she and the NHL had, to date, done nothing for me, so how could she do "more". I also pointed out that their order fulfillment was abysmal and that I'd never bother to try to use their service again (and, to anyone reading this, I'd advise a similar path). She gave another useless apology before we concluded the call.
Today, I spoke to someone that sells NHL merchandise for a living. I was informed that he'd only been able to get a very limited quantity of them and had sold out several days ago. Additionally, the manufacturer, who clearly had a hot commodity on their hands, wasn't going to make any more (and, looking at shop.nhl.com, today, even they aren't advertising them any more).
I am, to say the least, a touch incredulous at how stupid this is. I mean, they were selling these jerseys for $350 per unit. Rather than cranking out more to sell, they opted to discontinue them and sell only the much cheaper "replica" and "Premier" jerseys. I'm sure, at some point, we'll hear how problematic mechandise forgeries and the like are to these companies (I've already seen the "don't settle for cheap immitations from Asia" on some sites selling the Indonesian made "Premier" jerseys). Yet, when they have the opportunity to sell things that people want and are demonstrably willing to pay for, they choose not to. That leaves people with the choice: of be price-gouged by third parties that bought big, early so they could price-gouge later; settle for lesser goods from "legitimate sources" or, since you can't get the thing you really wanted in the first place, buy fakes. If the recording and movie industries have shown us anything, it's that people will either do without, or will resort to piracy to get the things they want.
All I can say is, "fuck you, NHL" and "fuck you, Reebok". I hope the lot of them die in a goddamned fire.