New York Islanders Draft Day Party

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 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.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.