Ontario man who won Tim Hortons contest shocked when told he might not get the prize

An Ontario man who won tickets to a Stanley Cup final game in a Tim Hortons promotion says he was shocked when he learned the company might not honour the prize.

In January, Jeff Murray won one of five top prizes in the Tim Hortons "Collect To Win" contest, which was a trip for two to a Stanley Cup final game.

The prize was truly a dream come true when Murray, a die-hard Montreal Canadiens fan, learned it would be his team playing in the 2021 finals.

"It was so unbelievable," Murray told CTV News Toronto on Saturday. "I told every single one of my friends. Nobody believed it."

"I'm not wealthy. So for me to get to a Stanley Cup game, this is my only chance."

Murray contacted CTV News Toronto on Thursday, worried because he still didn't have tickets and it was looking like his once in a lifetime trip might be falling apart.

"Everybody was in shock," Murray said. "Tim Horton's can’t get tickets? But it’s their prize?"

Tim Hortons told CTV News Toronto that even as the "Collect To Win” contest was underway, it was making contingency plans in case it couldn’t follow through on the offer of tickets to the Stanley Cup final because of capacity limits and travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Correspondence Murray shared with CTV News Toronto shows a company representative first saying border restrictions would cancel the prize, and then offering other options.

When CTV News Toronto asked how Tim Hortons planned to honour the promotion, Murray received a guarantee within a day he would attend game four on Monday night.

Tim Hortons said they offered the other four winners of the grand prize the option of a $5,000 cash prize or the option to see a major 2022 game, alternately identified as the NHL All-Star game, or the 2022 Stanley Cup Final game.

"When the grand prize winners were selected in January, NHL games were still being played without fans in attendance and it was unclear when that would change," a spokesperson said in an e-mail, also pointing to other challenges like travel restrictions. 

Two tickets to game four are in the $30,000 range, a look at online listings shows. 

Murray struggled with why Tim Hortons, whose parent company Restaurant Brands International had almost $5 billion in revenue last year, couldn’t make it work at first.

Tim Hortons said in a statement that on Saturday they were able to obtain game four tickets from the NHL.

“We were able to change his tickets and travel arrangements so he can attend game four and we hope the Canadiens win that game and three more,” the company said.

Murray will be on a Sunday morning flight from Thunder Bay — and he and his wife are very excited.

"Thank you Tim Hortons for coming through. You've made two people's lives much better today," Murray said in an interview from his home in Thunder Bay.