Nazem Kadri

Lockout effect: AHL Marlies a hot ticket in Toronto


Until recently, the Toronto Marlies had been a failure as a business operation.

This was always somewhat surprising, as one might think the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, playing within minutes of the perpetually sold out Air Canada Centre, would garner fan interest. But it didn’t, and after arriving in 2004, the Marlies consistently languished in the bottom half of the AHL in terms of attendance.

Things didn’t really improve until last spring. With the Leafs out of the NHL playoffs once again, the Marlies went on a run all the way to the Calder Cup finals and average attendance at the 7,800-seat Ricoh Coliseum rose to nearly 7,000, the third highest in the league.

Now the Marlies have another thing going for them – the NHL lockout.

According to the Globe and Mail, season-ticket sales are up 74 percent while single-game tickets are being snapped up as well.

“I love that,” head coach Dallas Eakins told the newspaper. “I love telling people you can’t just walk up to our building like two or three years ago, and grab a ticket on game night. That’s not happening. You might want to call in for the end of October. Because we’re starting to sell out.”

The Marlies aren’t the only AHL franchise that stands to win during the lockout, however long that may last. Other teams in NHL markets include the Chicago Wolves and Abbotsford Heat (Vancouver). In a somewhat odd twist, the Wolves are the affiliate of the Blackhawks’ heated rival, the Canucks, and the Heat is the affiliate of one of the Canucks’ traditional rivals, the Calgary Flames.

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.