A column of opinion, some facts and a bit of a rant...
My view on Wednesday night's 3-0 Wild win over Anaheim:
Yes, it was boring. Yes, it was not the most scintillating game either team has played this season. But it was a game with no 'loser point' and that was indeed the important thing, as every other team the Wild are trying to get above in the Western Conference race lost last night.
The Ducks came out as uninspired as anyone in Minnesota has ever seen them since they ditched the purple and teal uniforms (which my wife, a purple lover, still misses BTW). It looked like Chris Pronger was going about half-speed most of last night. Was it fatigue? A long road trip still ahead? Or maybe the realization for the Ducks that the window of opportunity for them is finally closing, and that as the trade deadline approaches, the Ducks may actually be sellers for the first time in years?
Whatever, Cal Clutterbuck continues to show that he is the best thing the Wild have had come up from Houston in a long, long time. Now, we know Ms. Conduct and some of the Texas contingent who read this blog on a regular basis miss him dearly, but he was ready, obviously, to make the jump to the big show, and, well, B-b-b-Benny wasn't. He draws penalties like honey draws bees; quickly, and in large numbers. If he can keep his wits about him, he will have a successful NHL career as the agitator you want on your team...if your team is playing against the Wild. Because the Wild already have him.
And one more thing Nick left out from his game blog:
Next: vs. Nashville, Friday, Feb. 6, 7:00 PM Central, Xcel Energy Center (TV: FSNorth (in HD), FSWisconsin (in HD), FSTennessee; XM Ch. 207)
(OK, I did it because I know y'all love to know when games in HD are on!)
OK, now a few things from around the league:
The Los Angeles Kings are also trying to boost sagging ticket sales in an uncertain economy. They are having a 44-hour 'President's Day Sale' on four remaining home games at STAPLES Center; the three-game homestand over President's day weekend (vs. Calgary, Edmonton and Atlanta) and the March 16 game vs. Nashville, who also are running ticket deals (and papering the house) in order to get the maximum amount from the NHL's revenue sharing pool...Calgary must not be a very popular opponent. Both the Kings and the Ducks are running multiple ticket deals for the Flames' road trip next week...
And now, the (sorta) rant:
The Wild announced yesterday (via conference call to season ticket holders) that the team would not raise prices for either the 2009 playoffs (if they make it, and that's still a big 'IF') or the 2009-10 regular season. Now, mind you, the club and suite level holders prices have held steady for now four seasons, as per their signed contracts with the Wild, while the upper level seats have gone up in price by nearly 1/3rd or more (in some cases).
Now, here's where the fun comes in: The Wild say that should you decide to avail yourself of the new 10-payment plan, that you have to begin paying for 2009-10 season tickets no later than March 20th, or about three months earlier than normal. In fact, before they even drop the first puck in September, they will have over 60% of your money already in escrow accounts, drawing interest. The conference call also said that the 'Select-A-Seat' season ticket holder days, where STH's can change their seat locations (and move up or down in class, depending on location) will also be earlier this year (normally mid-July, about the same time as the NHL schedule is released).
What does all this mean? That fans, some of whom get their tickets thru now-cash-strapped corporations, will now have to shell out more money earlier than ever before. Also, it means that despite the best efforts of the Wild fan base to get the Hockey Operations department (read: DR) to move on player issues (most notably Gaborik and Backstrom), it will be 'business as usual' over at 317 Washington Ave., St. Paul, no matter what.
" Damn the torpedoes! Full speed in Neutral! "
That's it... WRT