Winnipeg Thrashers Hockey

Winnipeg fans next goal? Sell 13,000 season tickets

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While the euphoria will continue in Winnipeg for the foreseeable future now that True North has announced they’re buying the Atlanta Thrashers and moving them to Manitoba, fans there have a job to do ahead of the NHL Board of Governors meeting on June 21.

While the Board of Governors will meet that day to officially approve the sale and relocation of the Thrashers, it’ll be up to Winnipeg fans to help convince them that they’re a more than viable location for an NHL team. How does one do that? True North wants to make it happen by selling 13,000 season tickets.

During the press conference, True North revealed a website, DriveTo13.com,  to point fans toward to help them plunk down their money towards securing the future of the team in the city as well as showing the NHL they’re not screwing around. Of course, that all comes at a price, and in this case a commitment of time as well as money. Here’s how things break down:

As you can see, there’s an added tweak to the pricing in that for the best seats in the house, to get a season ticket package you’ll have to commit to them for up to five years. Even for the worst seats in the MTS Centre you’ll need to buy in for three years. At least there you can get a half-season package but still… Whether it’s three or five years you’re asking for a lot of time and especially money from fans. If you want a pair of tickets in the top priced seats you’ll need to pay up $58,050 to do that. Needing to throw down $1,000 right off the bat hurts too.

Even for fans willing to get a pair of seats in the “worst” seats in MTS Centre that will cost $10,530 for the three year commitment. We’re figuring buying a pair of seats is more likely than just a single seat so that’s why we’re measuring the numbers out that way. Obviously if you want just the one ticket number is, cut the figure in half.

Fans in Winnipeg have gotten used to AHL prices over the last 15 years with the Manitoba Moose so there’s legitimate concern that the sticker shock will stun some fans into backing off of buying tickets. Doing that, however, might give the Board of Governors reason to pause on approving the sale.

The other part of the team going to Winnipeg is need to prove it’s a viable market for the NHL. Since the MTS Centre is set to be the smallest venue in the NHL next season, they’ll virtually need to be sold out nightly for the team to not end up another potential financial mess. Of course, that possibility is lessened by having billionaire David Thomson involved with the True North group.

For years the fans in Winnipeg have clamored for the return of the NHL, now it’s their turn to put their money where their mouth is. Only thing we wonder about is just how fast they’ll get to 13,000 tickets sold.

Capitals, Penguins nearly perfect at stopping third period comebacks

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) chase down the puck during the first period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Pittsburgh only won by a single goal in Game 2 on Saturday and that deciding marker came with 4:28 minutes remaining in the third, but that contest had the potential to be far more one-sided.

The Capitals were outshot 28-10 through 40 minutes and were consequently leaning on goaltender Braden Holtby to keep things close.

“First two periods, I thought they were way better than us,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. Or has Justin Williams put it, the Capitals “were getting embarrassed out there” during the first 40 minutes.

Washington did rebound in the third period, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the Penguins from evening this series at 1-1. That puts the pressure on Washington to take at least one game in Pittsburgh before the second round’s over.

Starting the game off strong is always going to be important, but that’s particularly true when talking about the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh was 39-0-0 in the regular season when leading after 40 minutes while Washington was 37-0-1. So far in the playoffs, both teams are 4-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods.

Hemsky finds his groove on third line

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 11: Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars handles the puck against the Nashville Predators at the American Airlines Center on April 11, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
NHLI via Getty Images
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When the Dallas Stars inked Ales Hemsky to a three-year, $12 million deal, the hope was that he would be a valuable secondary scorer and help round out their top-six. Things haven’t gone as predicted, but Hemsky has emerged as a significant player for Dallas lately.

Hemsky is now playing on the third line with Radek Faksa and Antoine Roussel and he’s gone on to record 15 points in his last 16 regular season games as well as another four points in seven playoff contests.

“We had hard conversations about how I felt the game needed to be played, where I felt his game needed to go,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “Did it always go his way? No. But from his defensive responsibilities to really buying into shooting the puck a little bit more, I think he’s been a real good asset for us this year.”

The Morning News goes into much more detail about Hemsky and his resurgence, but taking a step back from that, having a third line that’s both impactful without the puck and capable of chipping in offensively is important, especially as we get deeper into the playoffs. There’s no question that the Stars have big time players on their roster, but that’s obviously not all you need in the playoffs.

A lot of the time when talking about the Stars’ areas of concern, their defense and goaltending come up and understandably so given that Dallas allowed more goals in the regular season than any other team that made the playoffs. But the value of a strong bottom-six shouldn’t be understated and perhaps Hemsky’s recent resurgence will play a role in the Stars having that going for them throughout the playoffs.

Dallas has taken a 1-0 lead over St. Louis in the second round and has an opportunity to build on that in Game 2 this afternoon (3:00 p.m. ET).

NHL schedules hearing with Orpik over Maatta hit

Maatta
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Brooks Orpik‘s late hit in Game 2 on Saturday might keep him out of Monday’s contest.

At the very least, the NHL Department of Player Safety intends to discuss the matter with Orpik today, per the department’s Twitter feed.

The incident occurred early in the first period when the Capitals forward smashed into Olli Maatta. The Penguins blueliner collapsed and needed some assistance getting off the ice. He didn’t return to the game.

You can see that hit below:

“I thought it was a late hit,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

The Penguins didn’t have an update on Maatta’s condition immediately following the contest.

‘I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,’ Jets GM Cheveldayoff gets lucky with draft lottery

Kevin Cheveldayoff, general manager of Winnipeg Jets, speaks to members of the media after winning the second selection of the NHL hockey draft lottery in Toronto, Saturday, April 30, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
The Canadian Press via AP
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The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won the draft lottery, but an argument can be made that the luckiest team last night was the Winnipeg Jets.

After all, Toronto had the best odds to get the top pick, but Winnipeg jumped from sixth to second in the draft order.

“I don’t know if it has sunk in yet,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Winnipeg Sun. “I was doing my scrum at the end (of the show) with the media that was here, I said at one point, ‘Moving from six to two…’ and I had to catch myself and go through the mental notes in my head that it had just really happened.”

It’s likely, though not guaranteed, that the Maple Leafs will take Auston Matthews with the first overall pick. Assuming that’s the case, moving up to the second overall pick means that Winnipeg will have the option of choosing one of the two promising Finnish forwards available: Patrik Laine or Jesse Puljujarvi.

That’s potentially a big break for Winnipeg, especially after this campaign where the Jets went from making the playoffs for the first time since relocating to posting a 35-39-8 record. Through five campaigns in Winnipeg, the Jets have missed the playoffs four times.

The last time this franchise drafted this high was back when the then Atlanta Thrashers took Kari Lehtonen with the second overall pick in 2002. That was the final year in a string of four straight drafts where the Thrashers always had the first or second selection. The previous three years they took Patrik Stefan (1999), Dany Heatley (2000), and Ilya Kovalchuk (2001).

Related: Shanahan: Leafs earned No. 1 pick ‘the hard way’