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Looking for a ticket deal in the NHL? Look harder, prices continue to rise

By now, we all understand that paying up to go see a game in just about any professional sport is going to cost us a lot of money. The NHL is no different than any other league, except for that pesky promise that was made after the 2004-2005 lockout to help make the game more affordable to fans that were left in the dark for a year without hockey. Just five years later, ticket prices are as high as they’ve ever been and they’re continuing to go up as Ben Klayman tells us.

The average price of an NHL ticket rose 4.4 per cent to $54.25, a year after the weak economy led the North American sports league to essentially freeze prices, according to an annual survey by a sports marketing firm.

While 11 of the NHL’s 30 teams cut or kept their average prices unchanged, the league average included increases of 24.2 per cent by the Washington Capitals and 18.4 per cent by defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, according to Team Marketing Report, which tracks ticket costs in the major North American sports leagues.

The recession last year forced sports leagues and teams to rethink prices as consumers cut spending on tickets as well as food and souvenirs at the games.

But the NHL’s increase echoed upward moves by other leagues as the effects of the recession have eased. Average ticket prices rose 1.5 per cent for Major League Baseball and 4.5 per cent for the National Football League this season, according to Team Marketing Report.

So… The recession is over then? All right, let’s go blow our money! Wait, fans are still having a hard time justifying already really high costs? Stunning. While the NHL has seen their revenues rise of late, they’re not even in the same stratosphere as Major League Baseball and the National Football League. Each of those leagues have teams that don’t pick up the slack with tickets (MLB had four teams play to less than 50% capacity this year; NFL has two teams below 80% capacity) but somehow they’re able to avoid the PR problem the NHL does when it comes to empty arenas. I guess better revenues can help cover that up and that’s a big reason why ticket prices are climbing amongst the more successful teams in the NHL.

But does that make it right? Simple economics says that it does thanks to supply and demand and as long as the demand is there for tickets the prices will keep going up until it slows down or ceases completely. That said, the league gets a bad rap for letting their own fans down with the false promises of lower prices and now see ticket prices rising in the cities where fans want to see the game the most. You can’t fault the teams for wanting to capitalize on popularity, but with the fans perpetually ending up on the receiving end of rising prices, you can’t help but feel like you’re getting screwed over. The price of success never stops going up.

Leafs’ Corrado returns to Vancouver with a chip on his shoulder

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Just as the Vancouver Canucks are once again struggling through injuries and with their depth on defense a constant question mark, Frank Corrado returns to town with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s a quick visit. The Leafs and Canucks do battle on Saturday, with the hosts wearing their famous ‘Flying Skate’ logo from the 1990s.

But the return of Corrado with a different team provides a juicy storyline in Vancouver.

The Canucks waived the 22-year-old defenseman in October.

He was claimed by the Leafs, which ended his time in Vancouver when it previously started with promise and optimism.

He quickly ascended as a prospect after being selected in the fifth round five years ago. But when training camp rolled around this season, Canucks GM Jim Benning was of the belief that Corrado had been passed in the depth chart by a few other defensemen in the system.

The move has been criticized in Vancouver because the Canucks lost an asset — a 22-year-old right-shooting defenseman with potential — for nothing.

Corrado had some interesting things to say about how his time in Vancouver eventually played out, as per Josh Clipperton of the Canadian Press.

Two examples:

Corrado has played 10 games for the Leafs this season, with three assists. He made his Leafs debut more than two months after being claimed.

Video: Gaborik (lower-body) not expected to return after awkward collision

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The L.A. Kings are expected to be without forward Marian Gaborik for the remainder of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers.

Gaborik was involved in a collision with Dominic Moore at the Kings’ blue line late in the first period, and L.A. up 2-1.

Gaborik, 33, hobbled off the ice, favoring his left leg. In 53 games this season, Gaborik has 11 goals and 21 points.

 

Video: Bergeron questionable versus Wild; could that be the result of his latest fight?

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The Boston Bruins could be without Patrice Bergeron for Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

He’s currently listed as questionable, according to the Bruins. The details are sketchy right now, however Bergeron was involved in a fight with former teammate Blake Wheeler during Thursday’s game against the Jets, and didn’t play much in the third period — only four shifts and 3:15 of ice time.

(Granted, he did score in the third period, giving him 21 goals on the season.)

Why Bergeron was fighting is also worth debating.

Replays show Bergeron and Wheeler caught each other with a healthy slash in the neutral zone during the second period. A few minutes later, they squared up at center ice, with Wheeler landing a few heavy punches and a hard takedown.

“You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, as per the Boston Herald.

“From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

The Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division.

But with such a tight Eastern Conference playoff race, Boston needs Bergeron — considered one of the best two-way centers in the world — on the ice and in the lineup rather than dropping the gloves, which is something he doesn’t do often.

Bergeron has four career fights.

A potential loss for the Bruins could be a potential gain for the Wild.

Minnesota’s free fall continues. The Wild has won once in its last 10 games, and currently sits two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West.

 

Flyers staff give Gudas a talking to as questionable hits pile up

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1The list of questionable Radko Gudas hits — some of which he’s been suspended for and others he has escaped discipline — has grown again, prompting Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to apparently have a chat with the 25-year-old defenseman.

There was no hearing for Gudas from his latest infraction, a major penalty for charging called against him for a hit on Buffalo Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci on Thursday.

Catenacci has since been put on injured reserve, after he went through concussion protocol, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

The NHL didn’t hand out supplemental discipline in this case, but the Flyers brass held a meeting of their own with Gudas, because hits like this could end costing Philadelphia results and precious points in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot.

“There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern,” Hakstol told CSN Philadelphia. “Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.

“In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”

In December, Gudas was suspended three games for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad. Earlier this month, he was given a major penalty and game misconduct for clipping in a game against the Habs, but escaped discipline for that, as well.

Gudas, who didn’t want to comment on the hit on Catenacci, also spoke with Flyers GM Ron Hextall about this latest incident.

Asked about that conversation, Gudas told reporters, “Just making sure I pay attention and not get suspended again and make a good hockey play or make a good hit.”