This might not be the timing the Washington Capitals wanted, but in an email sent to season-ticket holders on Wednesday night, owner Ted Leonsis indicated most will pay more next year.
The Caps have fared well at Verizon Center (19-8-2) this season but are currently outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference (28-23-5 overall) and amid a three-game losing streak. That's a far cry from preseason Stanley Cup expectations.
"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 in the email, obtained by The Washington Times. "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."
The Caps had a season-ticket renewal rate of 98 percent for 2011-12 after 97 percent for 2010-11. It's likely that the next two months will go far toward determining how high that number is for 2012-13. Washington hasn't missed the playoffs since 2007.
"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."
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 NHL Players' Association did not provide consent, the current format will remain in place for 2012-13.
Mike Green skated as part of a full practice Wednesday, his first time doing so since Jan. 17 sports hernia surgery.
"I've got to get my lungs back, but overall I felt good," the defenseman said. "Another day that's in the right direction, and we'll go from there."
Green admitted feeling the after effects of his groin surgery still, but this represented significant progress.
"You definitely feel it, but as far as strength and durability, it's strong," he said. "That's all that matters."
Coach Dale Hunter said no official decision had been made on whether Green will go on the Caps' upcoming road trip. The team leaves for Florida on Thursday afternoon, and Green figures to be on the plane then.
Knuble done talking
Mike Knuble made some rather pointed comments Tuesday about wanting to play, following three straight games as a healthy scratch. But by Wednesday, the respected 39-year-old veteran was skating on a line with Brooks Laich and Matt Hendricks and not in the mood to talk any more.
"It's already gone on too long. I feel like it's a little bit too dramatic," Knuble said. "I don't really have anything else to say about it. I just want it to end. You've said your piece, and it doesn't need to carry on. Consider this the end of it, then."
Barring other roster moves, Knuble will play Friday night at the Florida Panthers, but that's far from a certainty.
"Between here and Friday, you don't know. If it is, it's a chance to play and it's a chance to try and stick in there. It's always a great opportunity to play," Knuble said. "The ball's in your court after a while, you know? Until you get a chance to play, maybe. Who knows what's going to happen between now and Friday. I mean that's the way you have to look at it — just be prepared either way."
Associate goaltending coach Olie Kolzig was on the ice for Wednesday's practice, spending time afterward working with Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth. "Simple goalie drills. Nothing special. Just focusing on the little things and trying to get myself better," Neuvirth said. ... Hunter said Wednesday afternoon that no decision had been made yet about recalling another forward for the upcoming four-game road trip, but that seems likely given that the Caps have just 12 healthy ones on the roster.
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