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With hockey season one week away, plenty of cheap Caps tickets are available through the resale market

Caps tickets on StubHub

There are many opportunities to see a Caps game for less than face value in October.

The Washington Capitals took a break from raising ticket prices this season after being pretty aggressive with some of their increases for several years in a row. I’ve spoken with more than one person who feels it’s become a bit expensive to go to a Caps game during the Rock the Red era and that’s certainly something I can relate to as a father of three.

Demand rose as the team got hot and the days of $10 top row Eagle’s Nest seats at Verizon Center are gone by miles. It would cost about $250 for my family to attend a Caps game this season in the 400 Level seats furthest from the ice (which I don’t mind sitting in at all), if I purchased them through the team. And that’s just for the tickets.

Park the car or pay for Metro, buy a snack and we’d be at over $300 for one family night out at a regular season game in the cheapest face value seats available. People are right to say a trip to Verizon Center has become a pricey experience over the past five-plus seasons or so.

But here’s some good news if you enjoy going to Caps games, yet don’t have a budget that allows you to spend the equivalent of a car payment for your family to attend a sporting event. Washington opens the 2013-14 NHL season next week and tickets to most of the team’s home games are available at big discounts on the resale market, including several in October.

First, the most expensive of the upcoming games: For the Caps home opener against the Calgary Flames on Thursday, October 3, tickets currently start at $32.20 on StubHub and at $27 on the Capitals Ticket Exchange, prices that are well below face value. There are 2,594 available for that game on StubHub and 1,818 on Ticket Exchange. Those $32.30 seats available through StubHub, which includes all fees in that price, are in a section of the 400 level at Verizon Center that would cost $57.90 total with fees through TicketMaster. That’s close to half-price for the first home game of the season, which I’ve always found to be a fun event.

From there, most of the October tickets get even cheaper. When the Carolina Hurricanes visit a week later on October 10, tickets are currently priced at $16.80 on StubHub with 2,870 available and at $14 on Ticket Exchange with 2,132 seats listed. The New York Rangers, often a fairly hot ticket in DC, visit Washington on Wednesday, October 16 and prices for that remain relatively low as well. 2,729 tickets are currently posted on StubHub, with the lowest priced at $31.10. On Ticket Exchange, 1,889 are available and they start at $26.

You can also see Edmonton when they visit on Monday, October 14 for as little as $13 (StubHub), Colorado on Saturday, October 12 starting at $24 (Ticket Exchange), and Columbus for $27 (Ticket Exchange) when they visit on Saturday the 19th.

October isn’t the only time when 2013-14 Caps tickets are available at discounted prices. As of this posting, there are plenty more tickets for sale at below face value over the course of the season if you scroll through the listings for the Caps on StubHub or Ticket Exchange.

If you really want to see a game for dirt cheap, check out the resale prices for the Caps two preseason games at Verizon Center this week against Nashville and Philadelphia. You may not see all the stars in those lineups and the games don’t count in the standings, but seats can be had for $4.49 (StubHub) versus the Predators or for $5 (Ticket Exchange) when the Caps face the Flyers.

Another approach is to wait until the day of a game to see if prices drop further on the resale markets as the start time approaches and ticket holders look to just get whatever they can, rather than nothing at all (be sure to confirm what time the resale sites cut off sales). This can work against you if inventory gets low and prices start moving up instead of down. But sometimes you can get some bargains – I got five seats for a grand total of $54.90 using this approach the season before last: “How to see a Washington Capitals game without spending a ton.”

Knuble’s comments on Caps fans were tame, but let’s put an end to some blanket statements

Knuble Next To Knuuuuble Sign

Knuble Next To Knuuuuble Sign (Photo credit: clydeorama)

Former Washington Capital Mike Knuble didn’t say anything incredibly alarming about DC hockey fans on Philadelphia radio today. According to a transcription from the Washington Post’s constantly-transcribing Dan Steinberg, Knuble was asked what Philadelphia is like as a hockey market and he replied:

“It’s great. You talked about New York and Boston, I mean, it’s just tradition. Being a Flyers fan, being with the Flyers is passed down from generation to generation. Washington, everybody’s a new fan. Nobody’s from there really, they’re kind of just jumping on the bandwagon.  But the cities like Boston, New York, Philly, Detroit, it’s like my grandfather was watching, my grandfather was a fan, he passed it to his son, then he passes it to HIS son. It’s all the way down.

That statement’s not the end of the world. And the four cities Knuble mentions are bigger hockey towns than DC; three of them are Original Six teams that date back to the 1920s and all four have won multiple Stanley Cups. There’s a lot of hockey history there.

But I will say this as a lifelong Caps fan and a native of the DC suburbs: My Maryland-born dad, whose parents were also Maryland-born, passed his love of hockey down to me and took my family to Caps games as a kid; to say we became huge fans feels like an understatement (this is a good excuse for me to link to one of my favorite Steinberg posts ever). I then passed my love for the Caps along to my now-five-year-old, hockey-crazy son, who has a Knuble jersey, a puck and stick he got from Knuble (the guy has always struck me as the epitome of class act) and a Knuble autographed picture in his room. I had to take some time to think about how to break it to him that Knuble was no longer a Cap after last season.

That makes three generations rooting madly for the Caps, a team that’s about the same age as I am, the middle of those three. And the DC area absolutely does have a ton of residents who aren’t from the region originally. But my family is far from the only one who can share a story of Caps tradition like the above, so let’s put an end to the untrue, blanket statements like ‘nobody’s from DC’ and ‘everybody’s a new fan.’ While I understand why they exist, these broad generalizations have grown tiresome and just keep creating more of the same talk.

Resale Report: A new column on the secondary ticket market

BCWpPhcCcAALDkSThis is the start of a new column, Resale Report, that will be posted every Wednesday, focusing on the secondary ticket market.

First some background on it…

I’m fascinated by the ticket resale market and sites like StubHub and Ticket Exchange. I tweet frequently via my own Twitter account or BrooksLaichyear’s when I see interesting prices on hockey tickets, such as a 99 cent bargain for an NHL game in Ottawa last week.

As I’ve written on my own blog at mikeholden.com in the past, these resale markets are no way to keep your tickets out of the hands of the opposing team’s fans. If you believe in and are looking to protect your team’s home ice advantage or don’t want a bunch of people in the other team’s jerseys cheering or rubbing it in when your team gets scored on in your home rink, sites like StubHub and Ticket Exchange are no way to unload your tickets. However, those sites can be a nice way to score some deals if you’re a buyer.

I’ve blogged here on BrooksLaichyear.com about how you can get some great deals on seats for a game via the resale market, if you’re willing to wait until the day of to purchase them and don’t mind sometimes seeing a potentially less popular opponent or going to a game on a weeknight (some fans will go see any two NHL teams play any night of the week if the tickets are under $10 or $20, for example). But just this past weekend, tickets could be had for less than half of face value to a Penguins-Capitals game in Washington, a match-up that normally comes at a higher cost in the resale market, even when there’s last-minute inventory that people have slashed prices on.

There are times when it make sense to pay face value for a seat or when owning season tickets results in a price break. But there are other times when demand falls and you can do much better on price, if you don’t mind some small sacrifices such as sitting in different seats each game and not knowing if you’re going until just a few days or hours before puck drop. In fact, two and half hours before face-off is when some of the best deals start to fall into place (Note: StubHub cuts off sales two hours before game time).

So, given my own hobby of following the secondary ticket market and knowing others share an interest in it, I’m starting this new column here on BrooksLaichyear.com. Each Wednesday I’ll highlight some of the notable things I’ve come across involving the secondary ticket market. To start, much of what I post will likely be hockey-related but it could grow from there.

Please feel free to pass along tips and other info to me via Twitter at @mikeholden or through email at brookslaichyear AT gmail DOT com. In the meantime, here’s this week’s column:

Resale Report, 1/6/2013

  • $9 to see Sid and Malkin play the Islanders?$34 for an upper level ticket in DC for the Penguins at the Caps this past Sunday via Ticket Exchange seemed like a good deal. Those seats would normally be priced by the Caps at around $80 in the primary market through TicketMaster. But on Tuesday, when Pittsburgh visited the Islanders, the price to see Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin got absurdly low with tickets available through StubHub for $9. Not a bad price for the first place Pens versus a young Islanders team showing a lot of promise
  • Stanley Cup Champs for $6 – If any big hockey fans in Columbus were bummed about the NHL lockout forcing the cancellation of this season’s NHL All-Star Game, which would have taken place in their city, they had the opportunity to catch a pretty good hockey team in their town this week. Tickets to see the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings face the Bluejackets last night could be had for $6 on Stub Hub yesterday afternoon.
  • Winnipeg seems to like the Jets – On Tuesday, the vast difference in demand for hometown NHL hockey in two Canadian cities was on display. Tickets to see the Winnipeg Jets play at home have typically been the most expensive in the hockey resale market recently, with the least expensive options on StubHub often going for $100-$200+. For their Tuesday game against the Panthers, the cheapest StubHub seat that morning was priced at $129. At the same time, in Ottawa, the lowest priced ticket to see the visiting Buffalo Sabres face the Senators was going for $8.
  • Steal of the week – Speaking of Ottawa, the most ridiculous deal in NHL hockey so far this season may have been on January 29, when tickets to see the Washington Capitals face the Senators in Ottawa were available on StubHub for 99 cents the day of the game. #hockeyisback, but the news may not have reached the Canadian capital just yet.
  • Cheap seats in Hockeytown – Tickets to see the Calgary Flames visit the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday were going for $8 on StubHub on game day. Perhaps the opponent wasn’t attractive, as the Flames sit near the bottom of the standings. That may have also been the case back on January 29, when you could see the Wings host the Dallas Stars for $9. Yet a look at the rest of Detroit’s home games on StubHub shows many games already hitting the $20-$30 range with 1,000-2,000 tickets available. Even home games against the Central Division rival Blackhawks and Predators start below $50 on StubHub at the moment.
  • Nothing for under $50 in NYC – As you might expect, there are few bargains to be had for any upcoming New York Rangers games. The cheapest seat to any Rangers home game through StubHub at the time of this posting is $51 and that’s when they’re visited on February 26 by the team with the most expensive StubHub home tickets in hockey, the previously mentioned Winnipeg Jets. There are currently 2,751 tickets on StubHub for that game. If the inventory for that remains large as game day approaches, those prices could fall a bit.
  • Resale market news from Time – In a Time article, one economist says, “arena box offices should consider a buy-back strategy so that they could sell the same ticket not just once, but multiple times.”
  • Send me your best deals – Send me a screen shot of the best deals you find on hockey tickets or other events. You can do that on Twitter at @mikeholden or through email at brookslaichyear AT gmail DOT com.

With new slogan and simple apologies, NHL still doesn’t seem to get it

Backyard hockey

Announcing their return from another lockout, the NHL’s new slogan states, “Hockey is back.” In reality, their brand of hockey is back. Other leagues—from college to juniors to the minors and even recreational and instructional ones—carried on, as did thousands of informal street and pond games. The NHL may be home to the best men’s hockey players in the world, however, the sport exists outside the boundaries of their business.

But the NHL’s new marketing copy goes along with the way the league and the players’ association often appeared to be operating during the latest lockout: as if they are the only thing that matters.

As has been written many times at this point, the two sides turned their back on fans, businesses and arena employees by not getting a deal done in time to for the start of the season in September and then dragging out their work stoppage for four months. The NHL and the NHLPA even released statements in their back-and-forth on the day of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, while many were focused on that tragedy, hammering home the fact that the two parties seemed to be living in a clouded world of their own.

And with their new slogan, the NHL still doesn’t appear to get it. Hockey never left. A bunch of guys who waited too long to start seriously negotiating a deal deserted thousands who were invested in them. The game of hockey itself is more than just a business and goes on, with or without those men.

If the league and the players want to engage fans who are feeling uninspired to watch the NHL brand of hockey, many of them need to rethink the way they’re issuing their post-lockout statements.

Some players and owners have been thanking fans for their patience and some have apologized; I do not question the sincerity of these statements. If this had been the first time the league had shut down on its fans, perhaps words of sorry and thanks would be enough.

But after four work stoppages in the last two decades, more players and owners, as well as Commissioner Gary Bettman, need to not only thank people for their patience and apologize, but show true regret and that they understand they flat-out screwed up by allowing another lockout to occur.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller came out with some of the more honest talk I’ve seen from a player since the lockout ended, telling ESPN:

“The best thing to do is acknowledge that it was stupid,” Miller said Friday, before turning his attention to Sabres fans. “I appreciate their patience. I know it’s a hard situation. I still don’t even know the right message because it was just a stupid, useless waste of time.”

Miller, who played a role in negotiations, called himself “embarrassed” that it took more than six months of negotiations to reach an agreement.

Roughly worded but honest statements like Miller’s are a good place to start as more in the NHL draft their own messages. NHL hockey may be back, but some fans will be slow to return until more is done by the league and the players to show they truly grasp what they’ve been responsible for.

As my six-year-old daughter likes to say, “Sorry isn’t magic.” To win more people back, the NHL and NHLPA need to show that they understand just how big of a mistake they made and then, like any good team must do, stop making the same ones over and over and over.

Uninspired to watch: The NHL is back and I don’t care

The NHL is back and I don’t care.

Strike that. I care because of the innocent businesses and arena employees whose income was affected by the work stoppage. I’m excited for them that the lockout that began in September has finally ended. But other than that, there’s not a bone in my body that’s excited about NHL hockey at the moment.

My current disinterest in the league has nothing to do with protesting. This is not a situation where I’m ignoring a game I enjoy, just to stick it to the NHL and the NHLPA. I’m simply feeling uninspired to watch after sitting through yet another of the league’s work stoppages—the fourth in the last two decades and the third lockout of the Commissioner Gary Bettman era—with this latest version having lasted for well over 100 days.

In the early stages of the lockout, I felt disgust toward Bettman, the owners and the players’ association. I expected that, once NHL play started up again, my skipping games would be part of a personal boycott due to the greedy parties appearing to forget about the fans as they dragged out their back-and-forth.

But at some point in the last few weeks, my frustration gave way to apathy and, eventually, I found myself comfortably thinking I could live without NHL hockey. Now, I’m at a point where I need no convincing; I have no urge to turn on an NHL game as soon as they start-up.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the NHL brand of hockey, I’m very much feeling inspired to watch the sport itself. If I still lived in the DC area, I imagine going without NHL games would be tougher, as there aren’t high quality hockey options in that region other than the Washington Capitals. The AHL’s Hershey Bears are over two hours away and high level college hockey is even further. Perhaps I’d reluctantly go to Caps games, just to see some hockey, until my passion for the NHL eventually returned.

Harvard at Quinnipiac, January 5, 2013

Harvard at Quinnipiac, January 5, 2013

But a few weeks ago, my family and I moved to Connecticut and on Saturday night I attended my first Division I college hockey game in over 10 years, watching the Quinnipiac men’s team defeat Harvard to extend their unbeaten streak to 14. The hockey was exciting, the arena was great and at no point did I find myself feeling like I was watching a lower quality product than I’d see at an NHL game (though obviously there is a difference in the overall skill level). I can’t wait to get back to another college game and I imagine it will be weeks or days before I attend my next, not years like last time.

I’m not sure when I’ll feel the urge to invest time and money in the NHL again. It could be weeks or days or months. I doubt I’m gone for good. But the end of the lockout hardly has me excited to watch. The last of that desire left me weeks ago, drained while witnessing two sides bicker as if they didn’t care much about when NHL hockey started up again either, or for anyone but themselves. The agreement they are finalizing now would have been great news last summer.

Take the 30 second NHL lockout poll

Take 30 seconds and answer our one-question poll on the NHL Lockout.

Have more to say on the topic? The comments section is available for that below or jump into the discussion about the lockout poll on reddit.

Past words of lockout wisdom from The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell

The Washington Post’s sports columnists may be failing to write about the current NHL lockout, but they’ve had plenty to say about past collective bargaining agreement battles. In looking through some old Post pieces on the subject, I came across one from March 2011, written by Thomas Boswell on the NFL labor dispute.

Much of Boswell’s column, which suggested that the NFL learn from baseball’s 1994-95 strike and the damage it did to that sport, applies to the current NHL situation as well. Hockey fans might enjoy this part in particular:

There’s another side of the coin: our side. Fans of the NFL, even the most ardent, should also learn something from baseball’s misery: Don’t care. Or care as little as you can. Don’t live and die with the latest twist in talks. If the current 24-hour extension leads to progress, that’s great. But if this moment of hope leads to nothing, be prepared to mock both sides and, when you can, try to laugh. That’s the only pleasure we’re going to get.

Because there is one certainty when labor fights get this intense: Neither side cares about you. If you pick a favorite and scream your opinion, then you’re probably the sucker. The owners will only listen to those who back them. The same goes for the players.

The sound that really worries them is silence. Try to provide it.

Perhaps the scariest parallel between baseball then and football now is the idea that the healthier the sport, the less likely a disaster. That’s backward. Lots of money on the table brings out the worst in people, seldom the best.

I’m not ready to go silent yet, but I’m certainly not taking sides either. I place blame for hockey’s current situation on both the owners—whose side includes three-time lockout commissioner Gary Bettman—and the players.

Now’s a fine time to make noise that you don’t appreciate what any of the parties involved in this lockout are doing to the fans. But more importantly, the time when people can really make an impact is when the games finally start-up again. That’s when silence could speak volumes or perhaps millions is a better word, as in millions of dollars in lost revenue.

As I wrote in a lockout-related post earlier this week, “Having waited out a few of these NHL dramas before, I wouldn’t mind seeing the league struggle to draw spectators before things return to normal. Considering the two sides had years to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement that could have prevented the cancellation of games and satisfied all parties—including the seemingly forgotten customers—Bettman, the owners and the players deserve it, especially when they’ve behaved as if they learned little, if anything at all, about fan frustration from the 2004-05 lockout.”

Make noise now or go about your business quietly. But when hockey returns, that’s when it’s time for the fans to impose their own lockout, rather than going rushing back to games as if nothing ever happened. Sparse attendance, lackluster merchandise sales and poor television ratings are ways the public can send some well-earned frustration back in the direction of the owners and players.

Perhaps the NHL will never learn, but I’m willing to take a chance that they might by taking my entertainment dollars elsewhere for a bit.

Where are the Washington Post sports columnists on the NHL lockout?

The NHL is now one month into a lockout that has delayed the start of the 2012-13 season. Games have been canceled and the league and the players association are engaged in back and forth that fans and local business owners hope will soon lead to some hockey.

Here in D.C., the Caps would have opened their season at home last Friday night against the Stanley Cup runner-up New Jersey Devils and, while Washington Post Caps beat reporter Katie Carrera continues to cover the sport, there’s been almost no mention of the NHL work stoppage by any of the paper’s sports columnists. Save for one piece which featured the fake diary of league commissioner Gary Bettman, I’ve yet to see a Post Sports opinion item on a topic that seems worth at least a column or two by now.

I realize that the Nats’ playoff run and the excitement around RG3 and the Redskins have been the main focus for sports pundits in this town lately, as they should be. But a major team in Washington is currently season-less and that deserves some ink from the columnists with the city’s largest newspaper.

A few tweets and thoughts on Alex Ovechkin’s ice time

This is going to be a quick post, with a few tweets and thoughts on what seems to be the sports story of the day in DC and beyond: Alex Ovechkin’s ice time in Game 2 versus the New York Rangers last night.

A few of mine from this morning…

One from Mike Vogel after the game last night…

And a couple of mine from after the game…

One way to look at this: it often feels good when you don’t need to go to your closer to win a baseball game, knowing he’ll then be better rested the next time you need him. If the Caps get involved in another long series or make a deep playoff run, keeping your players from getting too banged up is usually a good thing.

See the chart at the bottom of this article from The Globe and Mail for a look at Ovechkin’s minutes for every playoff game he’s played:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/globe-on-hockey/alex-ovechkin-the-role-player/article2418893/

Ovechkin’s ice time last night is an interesting story, but I don’t see it as an issue right now.

How Caps fans are feeling after Game 1

This morning on Twitter we asked how Caps fans are feeling after the Game 1 loss to the Rangers. The answers:

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