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Philadelphia Flyers raise ticket prices for first time in three years, point to rising salary cap

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For the first time in three years, fans of the Philadelphia Flyers will need to fork over more money to buy season tickets to watch their team. Some might reasonably call it the price of winning while the Flyers front office points to the NHL’s rising salary cap as one of the primary reasons for the price increases.

Before you jump all over the Flyers organization for raising ticket prices, they deserve at least some credit for avoiding a hike for the last three years. A cynical type might point out that it’s sad to make such a comment, but let’s face it: consistent playoff teams in hockey-loving markets can sometimes name their prices.

Moving on, CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio has the lowdown on the changes. One focus is that the team will charge different prices based on seats with a better overall fan perception, meaning that the best seats will go for the highest prices. Before we delve into the team’s PR-spin on the price changes, here are the bottom-line facts of the Flyers’ ticket hikes, as reported by Panaccio.

The average season ticket will increase $6 per ticket or $260 overall in the full season package. The top seats currently at center ice cost a season ticket holder $79 (discounted). That price will increase to $95.

(snip)

The ticket increase amounts to an average 8-10 percent. However, the lower bowl is now restructured into six different price ranges. For instance, those seats behind the south net where the Flyers shoot twice a game will cost more than the seats at the north end where the team shoots once.

The seats directly in the middle of the ice will cost more than those near the corners.

The upper mezzanine will also change. There will be 15 different prices for all 15 rows. The farther back you are, the less you pay.

Current season ticket holders will be offered a chance to move to cheaper seats if they prefer.

Flyers executive Shawn Tilger leans on the league’s rising salary cap and an urge to earn revenues that “are more in line with other top teams” in the NHL to explain the price increase. (These quotes are also from Panaccio’s report.)

“We are rescaling the arena so that our revenues are more in line with other top teams in the National Hockey League,” said Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko. “This rescaling still allows us the opportunity to provide affordable pricing options for our fans.”

Tilger said the Flyers marketing and sales department researched this for eight months using statistics from the NHL, in-house and outside sales, secondary market research (StubHub, eBay etc.), plus input from a fans’ advisory board on what they felt were the best locations in the arena.

(snip)

Tilger said the price increase was spurred, in part, by the dramatic rise in the salary cap from $39 million in 2005-06 to nearly $60 million this season.

Tilger pointed out that ticket prices here have risen 5 percent in eight years, while the salary cap has increased 52 percent.

To add a little more perspective to the discussion, Travis Hughes of Broadstreet Hockey offers a calm rebuttal for some of Tilger’s points.

Hughes points out that the team’s revenues are already among the top in the NHL, citing a Forbes report that ranked the Flyers fourth in revenue with $121 million in 2010. He also soberly debates the merits of the cap-related argument.

Secondly, on Tilger’s comment that one of the big reasons for the jump in ticket pricing has to do with the salary cap. We all know that just isn’t true at all. If ticket prices are directly related to the salary cap, how come they didn’t go down dramatically in 2004 when team payroll dropped from $65 million to $42 million?

They only dropped about two dollars following the lockout, from an average of $57.06 to $54.81. By comparison, the average ticket price this season is $60.25, up from $55.93 in 2007-08. Again, increases in ticket prices are expected, especially as the team sits atop the Eastern Conference, but can’t they just tell us the real reason why prices are going up?

Ultimately, Hughes comes to the same conclusion many would get from reading between the lines: the Flyers simply want to make more money and they have every right to attempt to do that. Now it just comes down to whether or not their fans will accept the price changes with their wallets.

Loss vs. Pens at Stadium Series could push Flyers to sell at trade deadline

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28:  Chris Pryor, Director of Scouting (R), and Ron Hextall General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers (L) sit at their team table on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Is a cross-state, historic NHL rivalry not enough to drum up interest in Saturday’s 2017 Stadium Series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins? Maybe a trade deadline hook will do it for you.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi reports, Flyers GM Ron Hextall already rules his team out as buyers. That leaves two options, really: standing pat or going into “sell mode.”

Hextall provides an interesting nugget in that regard: it might just come down to what happens against the Penguins tomorrow, via NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman:

It seems odd to imagine that the difference between generating zero versus two standings points might dictate a team’s direction, but it also shows the power of parity in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Granted, it’s not like Hextall locks himself into one direction based on the result. Still, it sounds like that game could have some power in swaying his decision.

The Flyers have some interesting trade chips if they do decide to make a move. Michal Neuvirth fears being moved, while Steve Mason at least needs a new contract, leaving their goaltending future up to question.

There are some other interesting UFAs, particularly in defensemen Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto.

Some Flyers fans believe that they should indeed be sellers, though it’s tough to imagine many of them rooting for the Penguins to win just to make it happen.

Mike Smith is out with illness that is not the mumps, Coyotes say

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07:  Goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Arizona Coyotes during the preseason NHL game against San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on October 7, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-1  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that she was told Mike Smith is missing tonight’s game because of an illness that is not the mumps.

You may recognize “not the mumps” as the NHL’s version of letting out a barrage of coughs and then insisting the issue is not contagious.

Anyway, Smith is out tonight as the Arizona Coyotes visit the Stars in Dallas. With that, Louis Domingue gets the start while the team made an emergency recall of Adin Hill to be his backup.

A quick 411 on Hill: the 20-year-old goalie was the 76th pick in 2015 by the Coyotes. He’s put together some solid work after being promoted from the ECHL to the AHL this season, managing a respectable .916 save percentage in 26 games with the Tucson Roadrunners.

It’s been a tough season for Domingue (5-13-1, .895 save percentage, 3.29 GAA), so you almost wonder if the Coyotes are tempted to see how Hill would handle a little relief work.

Rare wave of injuries for Capitals as Oshie, Orpik are also out

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02: Matt Niskanen #2 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammate T.J. Oshie #77 after scoring a third period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center on March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Washington Capitals have been outright dominant this season, but there’s one opponent they haven’t faced very often: injuries.

They’ve been healthier than everyone else to an almost spooky extent in 2016-17, yet it seems like they’re dealing with a rash of ailments for the first time in a while.

The injury list for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers appears to be: Matt Niskanen, Andre Burakovsky, Brooks Orpik and T.J. Oshie.

We already knew that Burakovsky will miss some time and that Niskanen was injured after colliding knee-to-knee with Radko Gudas. Oshie and Orpik are bigger surprises as far as their lineup goes. It seemed like Oshie took some significant hits against the Flyers in that same game that injured Niskanen, so maybe that’s the issue there?

Here’s what the Capitals lineup will look like, via the team itself:

The team labels Oshie’s injury as upper-body related while Orpik and Niskanen have lower-body issues. On the bright side, those three are all considered day-to-day.

Riley Barber makes his debut with all of these injury absences.

Predators are a wild card in more ways than one

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 21:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators is congratulated by teammates after scoring a hat trick against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Bridgestone Arena on February 21, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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The Nashville Predators have really earned the “wild card” moniker lately, even beyond holding the West’s first wild card spot.

Such a label could describe their up-and-down 2016-17 in general, and it might only intensify over the next few weeks.

Trade deadline players?

Nashville boasts Filip Forsberg, a guy with rare back-to-back hat tricks, not to mention other quality scorers such as James Neal, Ryan Johansen and diamond in the rough Viktor Arvidsson. (Their defensemen can produce points in buckets, too.)

But perhaps they can go from sporadically good to regular contender with that extra boost?

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes that the Predators could be in on talks to acquire Matt Duchene or “somebody big” at forward. Duchene, himself, might be tough to get:

That schedule, though

Honestly, the way their schedule looks, the Predators might need a shot in the arm.

Check out what they’re dealing with during the next few weeks:

Saturday: vs. Capitals
Sunday: vs. Oilers
Tuesday, Feb. 28: at Sabres
Thursday, March 2: at Canadiens
Saturday, March 4: vs. Blackhawks
Tuesday, March 7: at Ducks
Thursday, March 9: at Kings
Saturday, March 11: at Sharks
Monday, March 13: vs. Jets
Thursday, March 16: at Capitals
Saturday, March 18: at Hurricanes

That’s a rough mixture of tough opponents and road games, with even games against non-playoff teams being less than layups (the Hurricanes can beat you when they’re on point, for instance).

The Predators are in the first wild card spot. They’re also not far behind for the third seed in the Central, as the Blues hold a tiebreaker advantage over Nashville right now with both teams at 67 standings points.

That schedule could be an issue, however, for a team that’s been vulnerable to hitting highs and lows.

On the other hand, we’ve also seen hints of the dominant squad many penciled in as a possible contender in 2016-17. In a weakened West, the Predators remain a fascinating team to watch. That could be especially true in the near future.