Crosby to decide about playing in Europe

December 19, 2012, 7:17 AM

The Tampa Bay Times describes how when Jim Creson received his $1,400 refund for the two Lightning season tickets he canceled because of the NHL lockout, he gave himself a present: a new set of golf clubs.

“If I have to sacrifice hockey, at least I’m going to enjoy myself playing golf,” Creson said. “I’m terrible, but I love the game.”

The Citrus Park resident loves the Lightning, too, and after attending games for more than 10 years sprang for season tickets for him and 13-year-old grandson, Isaiah Wilson.

But Creson, 51, a software developer who had two 300-level seats, said the lockout soured him, and reclaiming his money was his small protest.

“The owners need to know the fans belong to this team, too,” he said. “It’s not just the players who are going to determine whether your team is successful.”

Creson is not alone. About 100 Lightning season-ticket accounts have been canceled because of the lockout, team spokesman Bill Wickett said.

The actual number of tickets canceled could not immediately be determined, but suffice it to say, an organization with a season-ticket base of about 10,000 and a 20,000-seat stadium to fill can’t afford defections.

For some, taking their money from the team with which they live and die is the only way to voice their disgust at the spectacle of the league and players arguing, and perhaps going to court, over how to split $3.3 billion in revenues.

And with the lockout in its 95th day and a second season in eight years close to being lost to labor strife, feelings are raw.

“It really wasn’t a debate,” Orlando’s Linda Hamilton said about canceling two 100-section tickets with husband Stewart, who owns a construction firm.

“When they said they were locking the doors my first thought was, ‘I’m done.’ I can protest. I can yell and scream on social media, but nobody hears it. My money is my voice and my money can be spent elsewhere to do more productive things.”

Responded Wickett in an email: “We’re disappointed for all hockey fans but, in particular, the season ticket members that are our lifeblood. We know the passion and commitment they have for the Lightning and, like them, we look forward to the return of the game. We have worked hard to service our season ticket members on a one-on-one basis and take a long-term approach when it comes to maintaining a strong relationship with them.”

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