Columbus Blue Jackets season ticket sales drop 24.5 percent compared to last summer

badosgoodpun.jpgAfter making a surprising (if fruitless) run to the playoffs during the 2008-09 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a disastrous campaign last year. It cost them their hard-driving head coach Ken Hitchcock and apparently had a Battlefield Earth-like effect on their ticket sales.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Blue Jackets season ticket sales are down a whopping 24.5 percent from this time last year, a free fall that could be attributed to the team’s mammoth letdown last season.

The Blue Jackets are still feeling the affects of arguably their most disappointing season in franchise history.

The club confirmed to the Dispatch its season ticket sales are down 24.5 percent from a year ago. The organization has sold 7,700 season subscriptions to date — or 2,500 fewer than last year.


A year ago, Jackets’ season-ticket sales spiked for the first time since the 2001-02 season. They also increased corporate sponsorship at a time many sports franchises were losing revenue from that source.

“When we made the playoffs, it’s like it was going to erupt here,” Umberger said. “It’s up to us to get it back to that.”

It probably doesn’t help much that the team really didn’t add anyone significant via unrestricted free agency. Aside from hiring new head coach Scott Arniel, is there anything the organization can point to as a reason why the team will be significantly improved next season? (“The return of Nikita Filatov” probably won’t resonate with casual fans.)

Columbus is betting big that the addition of Arniel and the team’s maturation process will spur internal improvement. The Blue Jackets are up against a serious challenge in a tough Central division that includes the still-potent Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings plus a young St. Louis Blues team that added Jaroslav Halak this summer. We’ll see if their patient (or cash-strapped) yet idle approach will work out. I have some serious doubts about that.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.