Glancing at some of the best deals in hockey

In this increasingly fragmented and confusing world – not to mention a fledgling economy – getting a good deal is about more than feeling smart. Sometimes, it’s just a flat-out necessity.

Just the other day, I saw the Dallas Stars advertise their delightfully pun-based promotion “Ott-toberfest.” It’s a pretty cool deal, as fans who cash in on the opportunity can get two tickets in the snazzy Platinum section, two T-shirts celebrating the beloved pest and two drinks (I assume non-alcoholic) for $99.

(Full disclosure, though: after evil “convenience fees”, taxes and fairly ridiculous shipping charges, I passed on tickets that really ended up costing $120+ for better seats at about $80 thanks to ticket re-seller Stubhub.com. Ultimately, you have to search around on sites like Stubhub for good deals, but that’s often the best place to go.)

Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette tracked down some of the NHL’s most appealing package deals. If you’re in one of these markets, you might want to seize the opportunity to take your family or friends to a high-level hockey game at a reasonable price.

Tampa Bay: The Lightning is offering a Family Pack for all regular-season games. For $56, you get four tickets, four hotdogs and four sodas.

Islanders: On Long Island they have a Birthday Celebrations package in hopes of attracting young fans and their parents. For $199 you get eight tickets in the upper mezzanine, along with party invitations, a visit from Sparky the mascot and a customized birthday picture on the scoreboard.

A visit from Sparky the Mascot? I had to look this one up, but apparently the Islanders’ mascot is a dragon (as you can see from this article’s main image). I’m not really sure why, but dragons are pretty awesome, so I approve. It’s too bad he doesn’t have some kind of fabric-based flame coming out of his mascot mouth, but that’s just nitpicking.

The Ducks and Blues have their own “performance based incentives.”

Anaheim: The Ducks have a Victory Pack promotion in which you can purchase two tickets to four games starting at $172. For each one of those games the Ducks win, you get two free tickets to another game.

St. Louis: A new promotion dubbed “Every Game Counts” allowed Blues season-ticket holders to pay 50 per cent before the season and the other 50 per cent only if the team makes the playoffs. The Blues have made the playoffs only once in the last five seasons.

Interesting stuff. Here are a few other tips to find good deals.

  • Ticket re-sellers such as Stubhub – Again, I know I already mentioned this, but the savings can be huge. A few years ago I was able to land tickets to a Ducks-Sharks playoff game for about $40 per seat. Sure, the game wasn’t even sold out, but that’s still a spiffy deal.
  • “Student Rush” packages – It’s a bit of a risk since these deals often are only available about an hour before game time, but merely having a student ID can earn you big savings on tickets.
  • Less popular games – You’re going to have to pay marquee prices for marquee players. If you want to see the Blackhawks, Penguins, Capitals or Red Wings, it’ll cost you. If you’re a real hockey fan, you should be able to find a deal with an “under the radar” team; maybe you’d prefer to see the Vancouver Canucks if you’re in a non-traditional market or a game involving a lesser known division rival. Any hockey game can be highly entertaining … just look at that goal Brent Burns scored for the normally yawn-inducing Minnesota Wild.

Anyway, those are some hints to find good deals on hockey tickets. Don’t forget minor league teams, either. You’d be surprised how fun a CHL, AHL, QMJHL or whateverHL league can be. Plus, you can get better seats for less money.

Feel free to share some of your favorite deals, tips and tricks in the comments.

Report: Beauchemin signs on for third stint with Ducks

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Francois Beauchemin will once again be playing for the Anaheim Ducks, according to TVA Sports and Renaud Lavoie.

The contract reportedly comes with a base salary of $1 million and the potential to earn roughly $500,000 more in performance bonuses.

This would be Beauchemin’s third stint with the team. He played with Anaheim for parts of four campaigns from 2005-06 through 2008-09. Along the way he averaged a staggering 30:33 minutes per game in the playoffs during the Ducks’ 2007 championship run. His second stint with the club spanned parts of five seasons from 2010-11 through 2014-15. As was the case during his previous run, Beauchemin was a workhorse and in the 2013 lockout shortened season he also finished fourth in the Norris Trophy vote.

Beauchemin spent the last two seasons with Colorado. Although he’s 37-years-old now, Beauchemin has only missed one game over the last two seasons and still averaged 21:31 minutes in 2016-17.

Despite that, Colorado decided to buy him out this summer, which freed up a protected list spot for the expansion draft and created an opening for the club’s younger defensemen as the Avalanche focus on rebuilding.

Given that defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen might start the season on the sidelines, adding another blueliner capable of serving in a top-four role like Beauchemin has the potential to be a big boost for the Ducks.

Gaborik unlikely to be ready for start of training camp

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Marian Gaborik‘s recovery from a non-surgical procedure to address his “chronic” knee issue will likely bleed into training camp.

“He’s progressing pretty well from the summer,” Kings GM Rob Blake told LA Kings Insider. “He still has some difficulty with some of the lifts and the strength. We’re probably not sure if we’ll see him in training camp right away, but again, he’s a guy that trains at a very high level and he’s made a commitment to stay in L.A. after he got married, get the rehab back on course. We’re hopeful he can get back to the level that he started last season and the World Cup at.”

Gaborik has been an elite scorer at times during his career, but injuries have been a recurring issue for him. Over the past four seasons he’s played in 220 of a possible 328 contests and he’s been limited to 43 points in 110 games over the last two campaigns.

That’s particularly worrying given that the 35-year-old forward still has four seasons left on his seven-year contract worth roughly $34 million. At the same time a bounce back campaign out of Gaborik would go a long way towards addressing the offensive woes Los Angeles endured in 2016-17.

Under Pressure: Jaroslav Halak

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This post is a part of Islanders day at PHT…

No goaltender went through a season that could be more accurately called a roller coaster than Jaroslav Halak.

The veteran netminder entered the campaign immediately following a superb showing in the World Cup, but he struggled in the first half of the season to the point where he cleared waivers and was then sent to the minors on Dec. 31. Rather than fade away though, he got a second wind in the AHL. That led to him being called up on March 23 and shining in the finals weeks of the campaign.

So after all that, what’s next for Halak? Will he excel like he did towards the end of the season, struggle like he did at the beginning, or end up being wildly inconsistent yet again?

He’s down to the final season of his four-year, $18 million deal and Thomas Greiss has emerged as a strong alternative for the starting gig with the Islanders. Greiss is entering the first season of a three-year, $10 million deal, so he is more firmly established as part of the Islanders’ plan than Halak, but Greiss’ contract isn’t so expensive or long-term that the Islanders can’t re-sign Halak too if the situation calls for it. Especially if Halak were to step up and become a major part of guiding the Islanders back into the postseason after their disappointing 2016-17 showing.

What the presence of Greiss does though is give Halak little leeway in order to reestablish himself as that type of goaltender. If Halak even has a bad October, he might find himself set more clearly in the backup role beyond that.

Perhaps the Islanders are looking to Greiss as their future though and have little interest in Halak beyond this season. Maybe they would prefer a younger and/or cheaper pairing with Greiss once given the flexibility that Halak’s contract expiring affords them. Even in that scenario, this would still be a critical season for Halak as he’ll need a strong showing in order for him to find a gig elsewhere. After all, it wasn’t long ago that the entire league said they didn’t want his contract and while he’s bounced back since then, he still needs to prove this season that he’s worth a new deal.

The goaltender market is always a tough one, especially for those seeking a starting job, but for a great netminder that’s a nonissue. Halak has played at that level at various points of his career. He needs more than ever to be that goaltender again.

Gallant thinks Golden Knights can ‘win and compete consistently’ during inaugural season

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What can we expect from the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18? No one really knows what they’ll look like once they hit the ice because they’ve never played together before.

Of course, the expectation is that they’ll be bad, which is fair considering the track record expansion teams have in pro sports. But are they gonna be “Colorado bad” or will they be able to hold their own more often than not?

“I knew we were going to have a pretty decent team, but the team was better than I thought,” head coach Gerard Gallant said, per NHL.com. “I thought we got better top-end players than I thought we’d get.

“So I think we did a real good job building our team. Is it good enough to win and compete consistently? I think it is.”

Through the expansion draft, Gallant’s team was able to find themselves a quality number one goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury and a relatively young backup in Calvin Pickard.

After parting ways with defensemen like Alexei Emelin and Marc Methot, the Golden Knights are left with solid options like Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller, and veterans like Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa and Brayden McNabb. That’s a decent group for an expansion side.

Up front is where things get a little more complicated. They signed Russian free agent Vadim Shipachyov and picked James Neal, David Perron and Reilly Smith during the expansion draft, but they’re also light on scoring depth.

“There’s going to be issues,” added the Golden Knights head coach. “Some nights we’re going to have trouble scoring goals. You look at our roster, there’s a lot of good players. Are there any superstars there?”

It’ll be interesting to see how Vegas’ first year in the NHL will unfold under Gallant and general manager George McPhee’s watch.