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.

Bolts re-sign Sustr — one year, $1.95 million

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Tampa Bay shored up some blueline depth on Monday, agreeing to terms with Andrej Sustr on a one-year, $1.95 million extension.

Sustr, 26, appeared in 80 games for the Bolts last season, matching Braydon Coburn for most played among defensemen. Prior to the campaign, he represented the Czechs at the World Cup of Hockey.

A restricted free agent, Sustr gets a pay bump from the $1.45 million he made annually on his last deal. There’s a good chance he’ll see an increased role next year, especially after the Lightning lost Jason Garrison to Vegas at the expansion draft. It also remains to be seen if GM Steve Yzerman will bring back depth blueliner Luke Witkowski, an unrestricted free agent.

That said, Sustr could still be pushed for minutes.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder might face a challenge from the likes of Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek and Mikhail Sergachev, the prized youngster acquired from Montreal in the Jonathan Drouin trade.

Sabres hire Sexton, Greeley as assistant GMs

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It was reported Saturday and made official today — Randy Sexton is joining the Buffalo Sabres as an assistant general manager. He will also serve as GM of the AHL’s Rochester Americans.

Also joining the Sabres as assistant GM is Steve Greeley, who spent the past two seasons as assistant director of player personnel with the New York Rangers.

“Randy and I developed a positive working relationship during our time in Pittsburgh and I think his experience and insight will be advantageous for our front office,” said Sabres GM Jason Botterill in a release. “In Steve, we have hired a talented hockey executive who will offer unique insight to our organization. They both have experience at all levels of the game and we think they will be valuable assets for the Buffalo Sabres moving forward.”

Sexton’s job with Rochester will be especially important for what Botterill is trying to do with the Sabres.

“I think one of the successes of the organization that I’m coming from is the relationship between Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh,” Botterill said when he was hired in May. “We want to re-strengthen the relationship with Rochester and Buffalo.”

The last two years, Sexton has been the Penguins’ director of amateur scouting.

Report: Elliott making ‘tentative’ plans to live in Winnipeg

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The talk of Brian Elliott joining the Jets isn’t going away.

This morning, Rick Ralph of TSN 1290 tweeted that Elliott has “been making tentative accommodation plans for Winnipeg.”

The 32-year-old goalie is an unrestricted free agent, and the Jets’ goaltending was once again a sore spot last season.

“We’re going to a take a look at whatever is available to us and if there’s a good opportunity there that can help us, we’ll jump at it,” GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Saturday at the draft, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “We’ve got a list of names lined up to reach out to their representatives and see if we’re a fit for them and as far as they want to consider us.”

Read more: Is Brian Elliott a fit for Winnipeg

The Jets have Michael Hutchinson under contract for one more year before he can become unrestricted.

Connor Hellebuyck, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent. The Jets are still high on him, but perhaps rushed him into the No. 1 job last year.

“We want forward progress for the team,” said head coach Paul Maurice. “Either Connor or Michael has to step up on that or we’ve got to get some help for those guys.”

Elliott, of course, had a tough first year in Calgary. The Flames then went a different way by acquiring Mike Smith from Arizona.

‘That’s definitely a huge option for us’: Brian Boyle wants to go back to Tampa

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Brian Boyle spent almost three full years with the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at last March’s trade deadline.

The veteran center liked his stint in Tampa so much that he’s willing to go back there when he becomes a free agent in less than week.

“We love Tampa,” said Boyle, per the Tampa Bay Times. “If Tampa wanted to work out a deal, that’s definitely a huge option for us. That’s something that I’ve kind of always thought about. I haven’t closed the door on anything.”

Boyle enjoyed quite a bit of success with the Bolts. During his time there, he scored at least 13 goals in each of his three seasons, which isn’t bad considering he was more of a bottom-six player when he was there.

It’s unclear if the Bolts would be willing to take him back at this point, but a big factor will likely be his contract demands.

“(Tampa) is a great place to be, great place to start a family. And, honestly, we’ll see what they say. You want to be wanted. That’s the other part.”

The Lightning have just over $23 million in cap space right now. That seems like a good amount, but they still have to sign Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Andrej Sustr. It’s also pretty clear that they’re in the market for a top four defenseman, and that won’t come cheap. As of right now, they only have three blue liners on one-way contracts.

The 32-year-old is coming off a contract that paid him $2 million per season. He should be able to fetch a higher number if he hits the open market.