It's a promotional idea, says Phantoms publicist Brian Smith, that found its roots in one of those late-day flashes of brilliance.
"The 'shirts off their back' is a tradition now here with us and we've always tried to add to it," said Smith, the assistant director of public relations. "There's only 27 jerseys, so in order to include more people we've tried to add to it with prizes and such. With this thing, we were putting it together, and one of the guys in our marketing department, the phrase jumped into his head, giving away everything but the kitchen sink, and he said, 'Why don't we go find a kitchen sink?' And that's what we did."
That sink will be just one of a steady stream of gifts being offering Sunday at Fan Appreciation Night in what will be the regular-season finale against Hershey. Game time is 5:05. Thanks to a donation by Home Depot - "We just went over to the one on Columbus Boulevard and asked them, and they said, 'Yeah, sure, here's the sink,' " Smith said - fans can win a double-bowl stainless steel sink that has been signed by the entire team, including the coaches.
Among the other prizes will be restaurant gift certificates, bowling parties, skating parties and golf foursomes. Autographed items from current and former Phantoms and a game-worn jersey from the 2004-05 Calder Cup season also will be handed out, along with Skate Zone passes that will be given away to entire sections.
Then, of course, there's what has become the traditional end-of-the-season postgame "off their back" giveaway, with players handing over their jerseys to the 27 fans with winning tickets.
While the Phantoms will finish out of the playoffs this season, their average attendance (6,596) places them among the American Hockey League's top 10 teams. Among the things they can take the next 11 months to figure out is how to top this season's Fan Appreciation grand prize.
"I don't know if it'll become a tradition to have a sink, or we'll haul out a bathtub or something like that," Smith said, laughing. "It is an interesting thing to try and top." *
- Paul Vigna