Random Thoughts – What Now, Season Ticket Holders?



Because I have used up my allotment of satire for the year and there remains almost zero actual Flames news to discuss, it’s time for another random thoughts post.

– I’ve never been a Flames season ticket – I was too young when ST’s were cheap and plentiful and now as a working adult they are expensive and in short supply.

So I can’t really relate. At this juncture in the lock-out with the league canceling games and the tqo sides engaging in little more than posturing, I wonder how many STH’s are starting to question their financial commitment to the Flames. Particularly in the wake of three completely lackluster seasons (and with no real end in sight on that front).

I’m guessing Calgary didn’t offer 10% interest on ST monies like the Wild, so there’s no financial incentive to keep paying for a season that isn’t. The risk of abandoning tickets in Calgary, of course, is that they could be snapped up by opportunistic folks on the waiting list.

That said, this type of action is pretty much the only kind of leverage fans have for hastening the end of the lock-out. Earnest petitions and impotent wailing on messageboards and on blogs is only so much sound and fury to a league that saw its customers come back in droves after a canceled season eight years ago.

I’ve seen a lot of expressed anger and apathy towards the NHL over the past month or so form various quarters, but until that translates into actual, financial consequences (loss of ticket holders, damage to the brand, etc.) the owners are going to continue to pursue their interests versus the players by whatever means necessary.

(it’s either start canceling tickets or go full French Revolution on Bettman and the owners)

That’s easy for me to advocate, of course. I don’t have season tickets so I have nothing to lose. Still, I think the fact remains until the fans start manifesting their displeasure in some tangible way during this work stoppage, the league will continue to do little more than pay them lip service.

No room for Worthy Gambles


– If and when the season ever gets going, the Flames roster is more or less set with 13 NHL forwards + Sven Baertschi up front and nine NHL defenders (if you include Brett Carson) on the back-end. Even if the club uses some sort of amnesty clause to drop a guy like Stajan, it means there isn’t much room for any kind of meaningful additions.

Which is too bad, because there are a few bodies having nice starts to the year that I wish the team could look at.

First up is Linus Omark. The former Oiler had a rocky start to his career in Edmonton thanks to a host of factors – the prevalence of higher-end prospects, the club’s insistence on dressing borderline goons on the 4th line and Omarks own outspoken disinterest in being cast as a checker.

The 25-year old is tearing apart the Swiss League so far this year with 25 points in 17 games. Before crossing the pond, Omark was a PPG players in the SEL and managed 20 goals and 36 points in the KHL, so there’s reason to think there is upside there. In addition, during his first 51 games in the NHL, Omark’s underlying numbers were solid – he managed the third best relative corsi rating on the Oilers behind only Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. The reason he struggled to put up points was a PDO of 95.7 (!!), the lowest amongst regular skaters on the club that year.

As a result, Omark was cast as one of those guys who is "too good for other leagues" but not good enough for the NHL. It doesn’t help that he’s small and NHL coaches/GM’s typically want dudes who are big, tough, mean and with team-first attitudes on the third and fourth lines.

Still, he strikes me as worthwhile gamble. He won’t be expensive to acquire or sign for whoever takes the plunge. If he works out, you have a 25 year old 2nd or 3rd line forward who can score 40 or more points, play on the powerplay and maybe manage a nice shoot-out goal or two.

Another guy I figure should be back in the league is Patrick Thoresen. Also a former Oiler, Thoresen is another guy who had solid underlying numbers during his time in the league but couldn’t seem to get the bounces, which stigmatized him as little more than a checker. Since leaving, however, Thoresen has averaged more than a point-per-game pace in the KHL over three seasons and is currently second in scoring on St. Peterburgh behind only Ilya Kovalchuk with 19 points in 20 games. 

Grim Reality

– Commenter Clay brought up an interesting point recently: 

It worries me that with a shortened season it is more likely that a tail event occurs. This is all well and good for this team’s needs going forward if it is a left tail event, and we get McKinnon, Jones, or another high ranking prospect. I’m worried about the right tail. This team finishes third and/or buys big at the deadline, and gets bounced out of the playoffs quickly. I’d prefer to take my chances with 3 balls in a Mckinnon draft lottery.

 A shortened season certainly comes with the elevated influence of luck. Smaller sample = bigger chance a streak based on percentages (one way or the other) confounds things.

I’ll go on record saying I’m completely okay with the Flames riding a hot streak and playing above their level as long as it comes with a siginificant measure of success. Meaning, of course, an extended playoff appearance (conference finals or better). Otherwise, I’m with Clay on this one – if the Flames pull a Minnesota Wild for a month or two and it convinces the decision makers the team is somehow a contender again, it could damage the team down the road.

– On the periphery of the lock-out, things are starting to get real for the little people. We here at the Nation had to institute a 30% rollback for paid writers this month because we can’t drum up new business to pay the bills. Today, the Phoenix Coyotes laid off some support staff:

I’m guessing a lot of other such folks in every front offices around the league are either facing the same fate or operating with significantly reduced pay.

If the labour stoppage ends in a month or two it probably won’t cause lasting damage. If this stretches the rest of the year, however, things are going to get pretty complicated for a lot of people.

  • marty

    flames did offer 3% and that stands, i did call yesterday because when i recieved my letter of the offer i was pretty sure that it said if you took back your money you would lose your seats. so when i called to take issue with this yesterday i was informed that STHs can now take back their money and keep their seats. still doesn’t matter, after inquiring about what other teams are offering i haven’t found a team that offers less or even the same. this contridicts what ol’ kenny king said, when the 3% was made known he said what the flames were offering was around the middle of the pack. i have not looked into all teams but since i have not found a team that offers the same or less i don’t believe this to be true. i just chalk it up to one more reason that ken king should be fired. what this city needs is a riled up joe sports telling everyone to burn their tickets, but no the flames control the only sports radio station in town and moderate their questions. sigh, whatever at least there is……………………………… to fill the sports void.

  • Parallex

    With a couple of buddies, we have split a season tickets since the 80s. All of us are basically hockey nuts who have ridden the roller coaster that is an NHL franchise.

    We have chosen to let the Flames hang on to our money and have the luxury of not being too fussed about interest paid. I know, however, that we are not in the majority of individual season ticket holders. I think, though, that a large portion of Flames season tickets are held by corporate Calgary.

    Those ticket holding buddies just met over a beverage and it was a unanimous feeling that there will not be a season. So we in Calgary figure that we’d be very happy to have that lottery spot for McKinnon or Jones or whoever. What concerns us most, though, is the fact that Iggy and Kipper are losing the last season of their current contracts. Regardless of whether you think they would have been moved before the end of them (for assets of some description), I think the Flames end up losing more with there not being a season.

    As a result, we are focused on what the Flames look like in September 2013, not what they look like in January.

    Last, do want to comment on the grim reality of what this lockout does to those whose non-hockey livelihoods have a tie to the NHL. This is a part and parcel of the blinders that both the owners and the players have. Should they care? Well, probably not in the ego fueled existance, but they should be aware of the alienation of those folks along with Joe Phan, the ones that actually end up paying the freight. What they should care about is that alienation resulting in reducing or reversing any uptick in revenues (HRR or not) that will result. There is a strong possibility, in my opinion, that, should this season be lost, the NHL will not return as a 30 team league, but more a 24-28 team circuit. And THAT would be devastating to all.

  • RexLibris

    Looking over the RW position while doing some research for another Flames article I was shocked at how poor their depth was. Nemisz is virtually their only prospect at that position and the NHL-level players are either at peak or in the latter half of their careers.

    To that end I wondered about Omark but hesitated to make any mention of him here on the Nations. I didn’t want to come across as suggesting Oiler castoffs being fit for the Flames.

    I do think he would be a good asset for the team, especially in the area of a 2nd powerplay unit.

    From the sounds of it the Red Wings are interested as well.

    I suspect that the asking price right now is probably a 2nd round pick. High perhaps, but if someone is willing to pay it…

      • Parallex

        I dunno, this upcoming draft is pretty deep… I’d still pull the trigger if that was the deal on the table but I think I’d be more apt to offer Nemisz. I think he’s a borderline NHL’er but if Edm is looking for the prototypical “Big Guy” for their bottom 6 then he fits the frame, he has some draft pedigree, and he was Hall’s teammate (linemate even) on the Spitfires.

        Call it a “change of scene” trade.

  • Scary Gary

    Hard to say what Omark would do without Zetterberg and Brunner; I’d rather use that second rounder on a solid puck moving D, with “high hockey IQ”.

    • Are Zetterberg and Brunner who Omark is playing with right now? If so, I’d take this 25 points in 17 games with a grain of salt. We already have one Hudler, we don’t need another.

      If you bail on your season tickets, you shouldn’t get them back. It is an unfair business practice to make people pay for tickets to a show that doesn’t exist – sue the Flames ownership. They have a boat load of oil money, it won’t hurt them at all. But if you let go of your tickets, without fighting the Flames’ ownership, then you don’t deserve them back.

      As for our RW depth… should’ve picked up David Clarkson or Niclas Bergfors when we had the chance. Not prospects, but young enough to fill the gaping, cherry-picking void left by Iginla when he abandons the team.

  • The Flames pay 3% on the money you’ve paid for each cancelled game. So right now, they’re paying 3% on roughly 15 homes games (counting pre-season) or 15/45ths of your account. It adds up to about a buck a month for me FYI.

    I have 4 ST’s. Bought during last lockout as I was done school and working. Now, to decrease my financial commitment I’ve added partners and we split 1/4 each, basically. To say we’re questioning our commitment would be an understatement.

    However, the tickets remain a decent investment for us – and people I know with tickets. These guys sell 15 or so of their games, easily making up the money they put in and then go to 5 or 6 every year for free… or even pocketing a bit of cash on top of that.

    They’ve told me they’ll go one season of losing money before ditching their end of the partnership. I think that season will be the next one as it’s become increasingly difficult to offload the tickets for more than ST price – outside of the Edm, Van, Mtl, Tor games etc.

    It’s not like 2005-06 where the Flames were fresh off their lightning-in-a-bottle run to the finals. The city then was rabid for hockey to return. Not so much this time around. Ken King is going to be surprised how much a full-season lockout will hurt fan support for a non-playoff team.

    And, I think you can get your money back this year and keep your tickets but you lose your seniority/priority on the list. Making it very difficult to improve your seats at the relocation events.

  • I think there are a lot of RW’s in the league that fall into a “change of scenery” bucket…. ahem Iginla.

    I like Omark, and would be willing to part with Nemisz or a pick, but I’d prefer to go for an NHL tested asset with some size(cost permitting). I want to be clear, not a refrigerator, but someone who may have consistency issues that lead to a cheaper price.

    Chris Stewart gets ragged on a lot by fans, but I wonder what that finishing skill would look like with the distribution skills of Hudler, Baertschi, Backlund or Tanguay.

    I’m rambling, but a good, strong, 22-27 year old 3rd line shoot first player might be nice. Maybe Rene Bourque is available (kidding)

  • Michael

    A shortened season is likely to hurt the Flames much more than it helps.
    The Flames are becoming notorius for slow starts, with a late season spurt to compete for the final playoff spot. The typical Flames twenty game slow start (in a reduced 60 or 70 game season) is another season that we miss the playoffs.

  • 24% body fat

    Apparently I’m in the minority here, but I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in acquiring Linus Omark. The last thing the Flames need is YET ANOTHER winger, and the ABSOLUTE last thing they need is another Jiri Hudler.

    I’ve never been a fan, and I never will be a fan. If someone asked me what I’d give up for him, I’d start with a 7th round pick, and maybe add Mitch Wahl. And I’m actually coming close to second guessing myself about that one.

    The Flames already brought in a european import in Cervenka, and they added a winger of questionable value in Hudler. Where exactly does Omark fit into the plan? I don’t honestly believe Omark can out-perform either one of those players. So basically, he’d be a high-scoring addition to the Heat. Which entirely defeats the purpose of adding him in the first place.

    If you’re looking for upgrades to the NHL team, look for hard-minutes forwards, or checking 3rd liners. And preferably get them through trade to clear some of the surplus wingers from the roster. OR get a center (and move a winger).

    • “look for hard-minutes forwards, or checking 3rd liners. And preferably get them through trade to clear some of the surplus wingers from the roster.”

      Once again, David Clarkson and Niclas Bergfors. I agree re: Hudler/Omark comparison. And yes, he is currently UFA in terms of NHL availability. Oilers put in a qualifying offer on his RFA and he didn’t take it (2-way deal probably), so he was let loose.

      We don’t really have Hudler though because he went and got himself hurt like a month ago and was cut from his team.

  • Scary Gary

    and anyway, why are we talking about trading for him? His contract with the Oilers is over. No NHL team owns his rights any longer. It’s a FA signing, no?

  • RKD

    This time is a whole lot more interesting to see what happens. I say this because last time there were a lot of rule changes, the game was faster and more exciting. The fans came back in droves. This time there are no radical rule changes as of yet.

    The big market teams who make a lot of money I believe, will be unaffected. However, I would not be surprised to see dwindling or even further declining attendances in struggling markets like Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, etc. If one of these teams sinks further and Phoenix doesn’t move then Quebec, Southern Ontario and Seattle just became a whole lot more attractive.

    Even though this season hasn’t been cancelled yet, if the lockout were to drag on to another season then maybe big markets could start to see some impact, maybe.

    The players just got their escrow cheques, $80,000 for every million. The NHL while they may not like it, have to stick to 50/50 and honour all existing contracts or change the HRR split. However, the more games they miss, the smaller the pie keeps getting.

  • RKD

    I dont think we have a 2013 2nd to trade for Omark, but that is too high of a price for him. I agree that a Nemitz for Omark is a pretty solid hockey trade of prospects needing a change of scenery.

    The last lockout came after our run & hockey was at its peak. Sutter was Mayor & Iggy could walk on water in this City. The economy in North America & Globally was light years from what it is today. Back then our cash flows were so good, there wasnt even a consideration for letting the tickets go. The NHL/NHLPA are making a very poor poor decision having a media hyped money grab brawl this time around. Paid for my tickets last year & wasnt happy with the teams performance and management decisions these last few years. The Flames sent out a letter last month saying if you get a full refund you lose your rights to your tickets, which ticks me off. But they did say they will refund for official cancelled games at the end of each month & we have a choice. 1/ The monies would go into our ticket account & stay there collecting 3.0% & will be used for next year, or we can get the tickets for games cancelled refunded each monthend without losing the rights of the seats because they still have the $$$ for the games that havent benn cancelled yet. I chose to get the refund because 3.0% is peanuts & maybe these owners will negotiate if they are refunding $$$ as opposed to playing hardball knowing they have my $$$ for next season. The biggest danger is I am re evaluating whether I will renew in 2013, as our business has been hurt the last couple years & our Finance Minister is determined to destroy our Canadian real estate industry. Dont get me going on that one. But the numbers dont equate to the value added of having these Flames tickets. Yes, they have been harder to give away these last few years, especially for some games like Columbus & Minny.

    Right now, if there is no season, I will not renew for 2013. If we get a partial season, my decision to renew will based on what I see from the Flames & the decisions I see moving forward. If I see the same mediocre garbage I’ve seen these last how many years, I’m done.

    Will always be a huge fan & probably buy a few 3-4 game packages to teams I want to see. Last few years, I dont know which I love more, my team or my Hockey Pools & I dont need STickets to enjoy my hockey pools.

  • RexLibris

    Nemisz for Omark is not an even deal. Omark may be a perennial power-play specialist and a future KHLer, but Nemisz does not have any attributes that the Oilers need right now, including size.

    His skating is an issue and frankly, for a center prospect they have better options developing in Lander, Ewanyk and Martindale.

    Feaster traded away the 2013 pick in the Cammalleri deal to get Gauthier to throw in Ramo and even it up with a 5th rounder.

    • RexLibris

      I think you are hanging on to a value for a prospect that wont ever get a sniff on the Oiler team & in a year Oilers return will be zero. Not saying Nemitz would be the right deal for Oilers but a 2013 2nd rounder, really?
      Nobody is going to part with that on a 25 year old that couldnt crack a non playoff team lineup & may have attitude issues. Sounds like he needs new scenery, but if thats the asking price, he will have to wait until he’s 26 to get it in the NHL.

  • xis10ce

    I called my ticket agent and got the scoop on refunds and season ticket holders. If you ask for a 100% refund you loose your seats and priority, but you can get a 90% refund and only leave 10% (which doesn’t get the 3% per year) as a ‘retainer’. With the 10% you keep your priority and seats, but in the event the season starts say… tomorrow; they’ll have a old school 1929 margin call and you’ll owe the 90% up front to keep your seats, if you don’t pony that up at the time it’s game on, you loose your seats.