The Washington Times - February 15, 2012, 10:49PM

The Washington Capitals had a 98 percent season-ticket holder renewal rate for this season, up slightly from 97 percent a year ago. Getting that same number for 2012-13 could be a challenge, more because of results than price, though an email sent to season-ticket holders Wednesday indicated most will be paying roughly 8 percent more next season.

Caps season-ticket holders got a “Note From Ted,” written by owner Ted Leonsis that spelled out what is coming with renewal material.

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“Most of you will see a change, an average increase of about 8%. Some seat prices have changed more than others, while some have stayed the same and a few seating areas actually have decreased in price. I realize no one wants to pay more, but our season-ticket pricing has been moderate when compared with others around the league,” Leonsis wrote. “Without knowing every team’s 2012-13 individual ticket prices, we estimate that our average ticket price will be in the middle of the pack. More importantly to you, however, our season-ticket pricing will be in the lower half of the league.”

Many fans expressed happiness about proposed NHL realignment, which would have meant more games against the Penguins, Flyers and Rangers and fewer against the Lightning, Panthers and Jets. Because the NHLPA did not provide consent, the current format will remain in place for 2012-13.

And while that is a factor, whether the Caps make the playoffs might be a better indicator of how many season-ticket holders renew.

“It certainly has been an interesting and challenging year from the outset, but I guess that’s what makes sports such an exciting and unpredictable entertainment option,” Leonsis wrote in the email. “Despite some unforeseen circumstances, I’m seeing signs that our team is beginning to adhere to Coach Hunter’s style. It’s not easy to implement new voices and significant changes during the season, but Dale’s philosophy is sinking in, and soon it will become second nature for our players.”

Going into Wednesday night’s games, the Caps were one point out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and four points back of the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers.