Devils-Rangers: The hottest ticket in town

Prices on secondary market are soaring for first-round NHL playoff series that will start Monday or Tuesday

Public affairs strategist. Political pundit. Business owner. There are lots of ways to describe Mike DuHaime. He prefers this one: hockey guy.

That’s why DuHaime locked in three tickets to each of the first two New Jersey Devils home games in the NHL playoffs as soon as they became available and before he even knew the opponent, dropping a few thousand dollars to do so.

It was a wise investment.

After the Devils learned Thursday night that they would be playing the New York Rangers in the first round, tickets on the secondary market soared in price.

The cheapest seats available down low at center ice, in section 19, which were selling for $569 at 4 p.m. Thursday … jumped to $644 at the end of the game to $656 by morning (The highest were going for $1,537), according to StubHub.

The cheapest seats up high at center ice, in section 229, jumped from $225 at 4 p.m. Thursday to $271 just minutes after the game ended.

The Devils not only are the hottest ticket in town — they are the hottest tickets in the league. And have been for some time, team officials said.

The team has had a better than 99% renewal rate on season tickets. It also has added 1,500 new full season-ticket plans in the last few weeks — tops in the league. Fans were willing to lock into a full season-ticket package because it gave them access to the in-demand playoff tickets.

Brian Norman, the team’s senior vice president, ticket sales and premium hospitality, said existing season ticket holders (full and partial) and new season ticket holders grabbed just over 80% of the seats in the arena, which holds approximately 16,500 for hockey.

The remaining seats, which went to the general public on Ticketmaster, are likely gone by this reading.

Team President Jake Reynolds obviously is thrilled that the fan base is enjoying the Devils’ first trip to the playoffs since 2018, and just the second since the team reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.

“It has been pretty fun to watch this play out,” he said. “This has truly been a perfect storm of things coming together.”

The team set the franchise record for most wins (52) and points (112) — and saw the arrival of superstar Jack Hughes, who set the team record for points (99).

“And you have this incredible response from this fan base, who has been patiently and anxiously awaiting this team getting back to the top,” Reynolds said. “The impact of all of that coming together puts us in a position to be able to take that next step in the business. We will set organizational records across every major revenue vertical: from ticketing to sponsorship to premium to entertainment to food and beverage.

“Our fans deserve this. They’ve stepped up and responded to this. And they’re filling the Prudential Center on a night-in and night-out basis, bringing an incredible energy with them.”

Team officials acknowledge it would be great if the only fans in the house were Devils fans. But, even with technology, that’s not possible, Norman said.

Fans of the Devils and Rangers — not to mention the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders — overlap in this market. Trying to limit sales to certain ZIP codes likely would keep out as many Devils fans as fans of their opponent, he said.

The team can only hope the limited available seats are scooped up by people like DuHaime.

A former club hockey player at Rutgers University who is now president of the Cranford youth hockey program, DuHaime was inside Brendan Byrne Arena when the Devils won the Cup in 1995 and 2000 — and in the Prudential Center when the Devils beat the Rangers to reach the 2012 final.

DuHaime, the founder and CEO of MAD Global Strategy Group, said he wasn’t going to miss out this year.

“The Devils are a hot ticket right now,” he said. “They are a fast, exciting team ready to make their first run in years. I purchased playoff tickets as soon as they became available, knowing prices will only go up for later games and later rounds.”

The price, approximately $3,000, didn’t scare him off. DuHaime, perhaps taking a line from the team’s most famous fictional fan, said you have to support the team.

“The Devils have only won one playoff game in a decade, and I know how important going deep in the playoffs can be for the financial health of the team,” he said. “I’m happy to pay for the great product they’re putting on the ice.”