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Canadiens 2023-24: paying top dollar for an “unfinished product

It’s September 11, 2023. Already 22 years since the collapse of the twin towers in Manhattan. David Reinbacher, Logan Mailloux and Juraj Slafkovsky hadn’t even been born yet that day, Cole Caufield hadn’t celebrated his first birthday yet, and our captain had just blown out two candles on his birthday cake.

But even though it’s been a long time, we’ll never forget.

This year, September 11 also coincides with the annual Canadiens Children’s Foundation golf tournament at Laval-sur-le-Lac for Canadiens fans.

There was a time when the golf tournament was held a little later in September, between the rookie camp and the opening of the team’s regular camp. Not this year!

The Canadiens will have played golf before everyone else in the spring… and we’ll have played before everyone else in September too…

All kidding aside, holding the golf tournament this early in September forces the guys to arrive in Montreal ahead of schedule (albeit informally). But since there were already about fifty of them skating in Brossard last week, I imagine that didn’t change the schedule of many of the team members…

Remember that the rookie camp opens on Wednesday (physical and medical exams), that the youngsters will play three games in four days (15th to 18th) in Buffalo, and that the real camp should start in the middle of next week.

What kind of season can we expect as fans of the Montreal Canadiens? If Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes and Martin St-Louis are anything to go by, expectations shouldn’t be too high. Jeff Gorton refused to talk about “playoffs” at his press briefing this morning, even using the expression “unfinished product” to describe his team.

Kent Hughes joked that he was aiming for the Stanley Cup (or nothing)…

And Martin St-Louis continued to talk about fun, responsibility, enthusiasm, respect, development, progression… but not results.

At least we’re no longer hiding behind words and calling a dog a dog a rebuild a rebuild at the Tricolore.

In short, we have high expectations from the Habs… but it just won’t be for right away… not for this year. Right now, fans are being asked to take a leap of faith.

It’s a far cry from the many strategies used by influencers and advertising agencies to create buzz…

Dear supporters, you’ll have to be patient. We’re probably (only) entering year 1 of the Gorton-Hughes era. Before that, it was all preparation, like…

I can hear Réjean Tremblay grumbling all the way here in my office. This is his third week writing daily for BPM Sports, and he’s already written a couple of columns in which he says he wants to see the Habs aim higher, not put their fan base to sleep with “no results”.

At least we’ve heard from a few players who aren ‘t 100% on board with the idea that Montreal shouldn’t be talking about the playoffs this year. No one went as far as Joel Edmundson did a year ago – who said that rebuilding was the year before… even though the team’s management had yet to use the “r” word once in public – but there was still a sense of pride among many of the team’s players.

You have to admit that hearing your bosses say that the team you’re part of isn’t a “finished product” and isn’t aiming for the playoffs(like)… it can get to you as a professional athlete. The fact remains that no one came out with a legendary “quote” today. Everyone had been well coached.

Personally, I have no problem with tempering expectations and making them realistic. In fact, it’s one of the best ways of avoiding frustration when you’re coaching a sports team or an individual athlete…

But in the end, it seems to me that if you’re selling an “unfinished product” that shouldn’t compete with the best products on the “market” , you should charge a price that’s consistent with that actual product.

That’s not the case with the Canadian. Not this year! And that’s where it gets tricky, in my humble opinion.

Some fans got quite a surprise when they tried to buy tickets last week… And today, you can still find individual tickets at very high prices on the team’s official site, even though there are plenty available.

Will the principle of dynamic pricing, which varies ticket prices according to demand, bring prices down over the next few weeks? Unfortunately, dynamic pricing only seems to work in one direction.

I know, there’s inflation, there’s other markets, there’s the fact that the wealthy can continue to buy Bell Centre tickets (even when 3/4 of the team is on the injured list)…

But it seems to me that when your VP dares to talk about “unfinished product” publicly, significantly raising your ticket prices goes awry in the eyes (and pockets) of many.

Is asking your fans/customers to pay a premium price for an “unfinished product” genius or madness? If it works, great for the Habs, but I have my doubts.

Squeeze the lemon to the max”, some members of the organization must be saying… but what happens when the lemon is empty?

In a flurry

– No major absentees.

– Note that Lias Andersson and Casey DeSmith will wear the following numbers.

– The saga continues.

– He could eat the strips.

– We can imagine.

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