Travelling Oilers fans scramble after switch of playoff game in Las Vegas

·5 min read

LAS VEGAS — Edmonton Oilers season-ticket holders Rob and Lana Kinsey will incur an extra $4,000 in flight and hotel costs for themselves and their two sons and will miss a home playoff game because the NHL changed the date of a playoff game.

Dozens of Oilers fans boarding planes Tuesday to Las Vegas for the first two games of a second-round playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights were informed then that the NHL switched Friday's Game 2 to Saturday.

Thus began frantic typing and calling on their phones to rearrange the back end of their trips around previously made plans.

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"There must have been 30 or 40 people boarding that flight that had Oilers gear on that were sitting there shaking their heads, making phone calls and commiserating with one another," Lana Kinsey told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.

"There were people saying that they were going to watch the first period of the second game and leave. Come all the way to Las Vegas, buy tickets and then watch the first period and go home and miss the hockey game.

"It's not a great way to treat a fan base, that for sure."

The NHL indicated Sunday night that Wednesday and Friday were the dates for the first two games in Las Vegas in the best-of-seven series.

The league gave no reason for the change in announcing it Tuesday, although there were reports the alteration was done to accommodate national television broadcasts.

The NHL did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The Kinseys were among those scrambling to book an extra night in a hotel and a later flight to watch Game 2 in its entirety.

"Our first call was to the hotel because we were going to be without a place to stay," Lana said.

"It's a Saturday so the room was a premium, premium price. Way more expensive than the other nights.

"The flight should have been the morning after Game 2, heading back home.

"We went looking for Sunday and the flights were four and five times the cost. They were going to be two and three stops to get home. It was astronomical."

The family will fly Sunday to Arizona where they have a place to stay, and found a "reasonable" flight home Wednesday, Lana said.

"We're huge Oilers fans," she said. "We really like following the team when it comes to playoffs. We've done it for a lot of years.

"We decided this time, let's go for it. The kids can come and be part of the fun.

"It sort of sours the whole thing now. Next time we won't bring the kids, if we go at all for any other series now that we realize they're going to announce the dates and can decide to change the dates of games. I don't think I've ever had that happen before."

She said her family won't get refunds on their original return flights to Edmonton. They will give their tickets to Monday's Game 3 in Edmonton to family.

"That's home so there's someone to use the ticket," Lana said.

"If we abandoned the tickets here, there's no one here to take them.

"It makes you think twice about going again, to support the team and go cheer for your team."

Season-ticket holder Jasen Reboh came with a group of buddies.

They'd booked their return flight for Saturday thinking they would attend a Friday game. He says they will watch as much of Saturday's Game 2 as they can at the airport before boarding their return flight.

"I don't think we're changing our flight. Our plan was always to go to both games and now we're not going to the last game," Reboh said Wednesday as he headed toward T-Mobile Arena. "We're going to be in the airport.

"We wanted to do both games. We wanted to support our team for both games."

An Edmontonian named Cameron, who declined to give his full name, told The Canadian Press in a message he and a friend had booked travel to Vegas to see Game 2 only, and will spend an extra $1,400 on flight and hotel changes to do so.

"I likely will write an email to the NHL/Oilers, but I bet they won't do anything," he wrote.

The Oilers were caught in an awkward situation between a league decision and disgruntled travelling fans.

"You don't see date changes made a little bit later in the game all that often," Oilers vice-president Tim Shipton told The Canadian Press. "You certainly see time changes fairly consistently, but date changes are rare.

"We certainly understand that there's a degree of frustration amongst fans who have had to make last-minute travel changes and the impact both on budget and schedule for families and others expecting to come down to see the game Friday only to have to shift to Saturday. We certainly understand that frustration.

"There's also a group of fans really excited to be cheering the team on in Las Vegas and being able to take that home-ice advantage and passion we see at Rogers Place and bring it down here to Vegas.

"We hope folks are able to enjoy their time down here and do what's most important, which is cheer on the team and have a great time."

The Knights had no comment other than to say "we have fielded and processed a handful of refunds for fans now unable to attend Game 2."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2023.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press