2019 AFHL Stanley Cup Finals Media Day
Players speak fondly of Cup;
Game 1 ticket prices are surging
March 25th, 2019
There will be a new team name on the Stanley Cup when the 2019 Stanley Cup Final is finished.
Will it be the Manhattan Supermen, who have waited 10 long seasons and were defeated the one time they made it to the Finals in 2013?
“We worked so hard to get back here,” said Manhattan Coach Tony Furino, who has led this team since inception 10 years ago. “So, it’s a great feeling, especially the way we did it, the way we played against the Sharks and the #1 seeded Vikings. It was outstanding from everybody.”
Or will it be the American Conference winning Pittsburgh Heroes who lost in the Finals during overtime in Game 7 to the Gulls in 2017?
Pittsburgh has been dominant all year, defeated the X-Men in Round 1 and the defending champs in Round 2.
“[Manhattan has] bought in,” Pittsburgh forward Sean Monahan said. “They’re playing as a team. They’re willing to do anything to win. They’re physical. They can score goals. They have skill. We played a very similar team in Comox Valley. That being said, we’re going to have to be hard on their top guys.”
But it was the AFHL Stanley Cup that stole the spotlight at Media Day on Monday.
For a few hours, in four groups, players and coaches on the Pittsburgh Heroes and those of the Manhattan Supermen answered hundreds of questions during 2019 Stanley Cup Final Media Day at the Heroes home ice arena.
And yet the players would scarcely even glance at the Cup, much less study it. There are customs in hockey that are to be obeyed, and this was one: feel free to look quickly, only in passing, but do not touch until you’ve won.
Both teams have been here once before but neither team has actually won the Holy Grail.
If the players were politely ignoring the Stanley Cup, they were happy to pay it reverence with their thoughts, considering aloud what they find most beautiful about it.
“Just the history of it, seeing all the names on it, what it represents,” said Heroes goaltender Braden Holtby. “When you look at it, (you think of) what it’s gone through. If it could speak, the stories it could tell …
“Even people who don’t necessarily know what it is, when they see it, it commands that attention. That’s pretty special. And just what guys have gone through and played through to get it, the experiences with it after, everything that comes along with it, the joy that comes along with winning, all those things combined,” Holtby said of the Cup’s magic.
David Perron, one of Manhattan’s key trade deadline acquisitions, was seated Monday just a few stick-lengths from the Cup he’s played for once but not won.
“It’s great looking. It’s the best trophy in sports to me,” said Perron. “The playoffs are so long. It’s a grind, essentially three seven-game series, and it takes a toll on your body.”
Heroes forward Nikita Kucherov, who won the Cup before with the San Diego Gulls, spoke to the trophy’s history.
“If you ever get a chance to win it,” he said, “you know you’re always going to be on it, or in the Hall of Fame (vault).”
Heroes captain Conor McDavid, too, is dazzled by the Cup because it is both perfect and imperfect.
“The sheer history of it is the coolest thing,” McDavid said. “So many legends have held that Cup from players like Evgeni Malkin and Nicklas Lidstrom to coaches like Chris Hartley and Lucas Main.”
Ticket Prices Go Through the Roof
“We have not locked in on tickets yet,” a Manhattan Supermen fan said on Monday morning. “They’re pretty expensive — way more than the entire trip to Pittsburgh. So there’s a chance we just go out there to be around the experience and not get in the game.”
Manhattan area sports fans went to bed in a delirious, blissful state that many hadn’t experienced in a generation. Anyone waking up Monday hoping for an up-close view of the Pittsburgh series opener against Supermen was met with a stern, pricey reality.
The cheapest seats available Monday morning on Ticketmaster — the AFHL’s official partner — cost $914 apiece. On StubHub, they were $983. Vivid Seats had one for $828, but the rest were at least $920. SeatGeek listed tickets for as low as $908, a price that jumped to more than $1,100 with fees.
To take a family of four to tonight’s Game 1, you would have to fork over a minimum of $3,632. And that’s to sit in the cheap seats. Add in parking, drinks, and food at the arena and your three-hour outing will be pushing $5,000.
It was sobering news for Supermen fans who were excited about a Pittsburgh trip.
The high prices have forced others to get creative — even if it’s only in jest.
“Anyone need a kidney? I need money for Supermen finals tickets!! DM for real inquiries” — Michael Spriggs on Twitter (@MSpriggs3) March 25, 2019
As of Monday morning, Michael Spriggs — who had offered up his kidney to raise funds for tickets — said no one had taken him up on his offer, but he wasn’t yet pulling the offer from the table.
“I honestly have no idea what the going rate for a kidney would be,” he said.
And yet others were ready to pay whatever it will take to get inside Pittsburgh’s Home Ice Arena for Game 1 of the Finals. Another fan and his friends are torn between two choices: going to Pittsburgh for Games 1 and 2, or waiting until Game 5. Not attending any of those games? That’s not an option.
“I’ve been waiting my whole life for this, obviously,” the fan said Monday morning. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get this chance again. I mean, this is my life, basically. I’ve always wanted this.”
Many fans are already expecting tickets to start running four figures by mid-day. Of course, the secondary market for tickets could always drop. The tickets for Games 3 and 4 in Manhattan are similarly priced, which means many Supermen fans — at least non-season-ticket-holders or those who haven’t been saving their money since the team’s last visit to the Finals seven years ago — could be priced out.