RICHMOND, SEPT. 28 -- With today marking the end of the third week of the Washington Capitals' training camp -- and the absences of holdout defenseman Kevin Hatcher and unsigned free agent goalie Don Beaupre -- there are some things to remember when following the negotiations between General Manager David Poile and the players' agents.
First, the franchise made more money last season than ever before, although owner Abe Pollin has declined to say exactly how much. A franchise-record average of 17,251 fans went to Capital Centre for 40 regular-season home games. The playoffs are where teams really make their money and the Capitals went further than ever. The team also had the second-lowest payroll in the NHL at midseason, according to players association figures.
"With the fact that we had more playoff games than we had in the past, we did make a profit with the Capitals," Pollin said in an recent interview. "Not a large profit, but a small profit. In terms of the more than $20 million I've lost on the team, it's sort of a drop in the bucket.
"But it sure was a hell of a positive to win and have some profit rather than a loss. In the last couple years, we have had some small profits and last year was the largest profit we've ever had. So it is headed in the right direction, and I'm really pleased with that."
Secondly, the Capitals have the lowest ticket prices (on the average) in the NHL. The highest-priced single-game ticket is $25. The Los Angeles Kings' top ticket is $205, with the next three categories going for $55, $47 and $40. The best seats for Rangers games at Madison Square Garden went up $10 to $45.
The Capitals' best seat is $1 less than the best seats in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and $5 less than those on Long Island. The St. Louis Blues raised tickets $4 to $6 and attributed the increase to having to pay the lucrative contracts given to Brett Hull and Scott Stevens.
Thirdly, there are 14 players in the organization entering the option years of their contracts, an especially high number. Some of the 14 may never get out of Baltimore this season, but others -- Rod Langway, Mike Ridley, Michal Pivonka, Steve Leach, for example -- are important members of the squad. They are watching the Hatcher-Beaupre negotiations because they want the players on the ice, but also to see how the organization is going to pay players in the changing salary environment.
Turcotte: Minor Concussion
Alfie Turcotte suffered a minor concussion and a sore shoulder when he was rammed into the boards in Thursday night's 2-2 tie in Philadelphia. . . . Poile said he spoke today with Ron Simon, the agent for unsigned free agent goalie Don Beaupre. Poile declined to discuss the conversation other than to say there was no progress . . . Rod Langway's back tightened up in the third period and, though he stayed on the bench, he did not return to the game.