Well, I'm telling you, the free Center Ice is real. And it wasn't even hard to get.
Today (Oct 01) at about 5:30 Mountain Time, I called up DTV (1-800-347-3288). By 6, I had free CI for the entire season. I'm sure it depends a bit on luck, in terms of getting the right representatives, but considering the ease with which I got what I wanted, I'd think you could do it pretty easily too.
Just call the number (1-800-347-3288) to get to DTV customer service, and give your info, and ask to speak to a customer service rep. I called during what I imagine is peak time, or close to it, and had maybe a 5-10 minute wait for someone to pick up. When the representative answered, in a perfectly normal American accent (Chen said he got an accent) I politely explained (everything in this process must be done politely!) that I lived in the Denver area, that I was an Avalanche fan (blasphemy!), and that I was bummed out that I couldn't watch Joe Sakic's retirement ceremony because it was on Versus.
The representative explained to me that unfortunately Comcast has forced them to pull the channel until DTV relents to their "unreasonable" pricing demands for the channel. I told him about how I really only watch TV for hockey (truth), and that it was pretty disappointing to me to not be able to catch games on Versus when that's about all I want to watch. I especially stressed that Versus has exclusive rights to most of the games in the playoffs, and how that was the best part. He sympathized, explaining that he is a basketball fan and can definitely understand what I mean about wanting to see the playoffs more than anything. I then mentioned that I had been looking at the DISH Network package, and how I could actually save like 3 dollars a month, plus I'd get Versus, which I really wanted. He asked if I wanted to be handed over to Account Disconnect or something like that, and I was non-committal in explaining that I really liked my service with DTV (truth) and would like to keep it, but it was kind of hard to justify it when I couldn't get access to the content that I really wanted. He asked me to hold, while he spoke with his supervisor, and I went on hold for about 5 minutes.
When he came back, he offered to give me a 6 month discount of 10 dollars off each month on my bill, totaling $60 in savings. I told him that was a cool offer, but that ultimately, saving 60 dollars wasn't that great, when I could save a little money as it was, and get Versus besides, if I moved to DISH Network. He apologized and said that was what he could offer me, so I asked him to connect me to Account Disconnect or whatever they called it. If it actually came to it and they were going to let me cancel my account, I was just gonna hang up and try calling again to get a different customer service rep. But he didn't know that.
The other thing that happened here, after he got back from talking to his supervisor, was that the guy small talked with me, and I went right along with it. He asked whereabouts in Denver I was, and we started chatting, because apparently he was a musician, and last year he was playing in Denver for New Year's, and was talking about how his mind was blown because he could hang out in the middle of winter in Denver in a t-shirt. I commisserated, discussing how a lot of times in winter I leave a window open because its so nice out, and how I rub it in the faces of all my family back home in Michigan. This went on before the 6 month discount offer, and then again a bit after I asked for Disconnects. Before he gave me to them though, he asked if he could put me on hold and add some notes to my account, to which I agreed.
When he came back, he launched right back into some more small talk, and we chatted for a couple minutes, before he sent me over to Disconnects (he called it something else). Before sending me over though, he told me to be sure to mention to whoever I got on that side to take a look at his notes. When I got over to Disconnects, Customer Retention, whatever it was, I didn't even have to say a word before I was offered the Center Ice package. I got over there, and this girl immediately launched into apologies and explanations for why I couldn't get Versus. She went from that, right into discussing how they're trying to offer remedies for this situation, by offering the NHL Center Ice package free of charge.
I did some non-committal grumbling, and then asked her about the status of the negotiates with Versus, and let her kind of keep going along that spiel before saying that I guess Center Ice would be ok, but continued to stress that I really hoped DTV would work things out with Versus. A couple of minutes later, NHL Center Ice was added to my account.
I think a lot of it has to do with your interactions with the first representative. Especially given the way that representative told me to make sure that I had people look at the notes he took, I'm thinking that representative's notes are what got me so far, so quickly. Just be very polite (a very hard thing for me) and get into the small talk with them, and you'll be fine. If they actually attempt to start disconnecting your service, hang up real fast and then try calling again. But it is important to at least make the threat (politely).
(Last night I was watching the Maple Leafs/Canadiens game, and this polar bear mascot for the Maple Leafs is the best mascot ever! During the intermission before the OT, he was in the corner and you could see him putting some sort of curse on Carey Price. Then, during the entire overtime period, you could see him with his head peeking just over the boards on the far corner in the MTL zone, looking back and forth like a dog following a ball. Apparently his curse was all for naught, as the Leafs lost in OT, but it was still pretty awesome. Night 1, and I already love having NHL Center Ice.