Empty seats in spotlight . . . Draisaitl to Rockets? . . . Ice won’t be sellers



There seems to be some surprise over the number of empty seats at World Junior Championship games in Montreal.

Perhaps those people responsible for setting ticket prices weren’t paying attention during the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon. Perhaps those people now will realize that there is a limit to what fans will pay to watch teenagers play hockey. It seems there are people who won’t pay $106 to watch Canada play the United States on New Year’s Eve.

. . . Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star has more right here.

I paid less $ for flight/accom/tickets to WJHC2014 in Malmo than the ticket package offered for WJHC2015.

— Mitchell A (@mitchyav)

For perspective I saw 9 games in Malmo incl all medal round. Cost <$200 CAN all in.

— Mitchell A (@mitchyav)

It may come as a surprise to some but I would suggest that there are a lot of sports fans who are about tapped out. And it isn’t getting any better as politicians and those responsible for guarding the public purse and for the cost of many of life’s necessities continue to spend like it isn’t their money. Oh, wait . . .

I don’t know what it’s like in your neck of the woods, but here in B.C., the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been kind enough to point out that in 2015 we will see increases in what we pay for Medical Services premiums, Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, B.C. Hydro, ICBC (car insurance) and B.C. Ferries. Of course, property taxes also are sure to increase, as they always do.

“It will be another expensive year for taxpayers, as we hand out more money to government,” Jordan Bateman, the CTF’s B.C. director, told Cassidy Olivier of Postmedia News. “. . . it’s no wonder B.C. is joked to be short for ‘Bring Cash.’ ”

Assuming that this is pretty much the story everywhere, sports fans simply don’t have nearly the disposable income necessary to be paying $100 or more to watch a junior hockey game.

With this in mind, it will be interesting to see what happens with ticket prices in advance of the 2017 World Junior Championship, which again is scheduled to be held in Montreal and Toronto.

It would seem that F Leon Draisaitl’s WHL rights have been moved by the Prince Albert Raiders to the Kelowna Rockets.

I’m hearing Leon Draisaitl’s junior rights have been traded from Prince Albert to Kelowna. Up to parties to announce it..

— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty)

Perhaps the first clue that it was a done deal came on Dec. 23 when Sportsnet’s John Shannon tweeted:

Email convo with Kelowna Rockets’ owner Bruce Hamilton…on Draisaitl’s WHL rights being traded “Nothing going on. All talk. No action.”

— John Shannon (@JSportsnet)

At the end of the day, it is quite likely that a Draisaitl deal was built into the exchange in which D Josh Morrissey moved from the Raiders to the Rockets on Dec. 11.

Draisaitl played the last two seasons in Prince Albert. Last season, he finished with 105 points, including 38 goals, in 64 games.

Draisaitl, of course, is on the roster of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. They added F Matt Fraser on waivers from the Boston Bruins, so will need to make a move to clear room on their roster for him.

Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier, who has speculated on Draisaitl moving to the Little Apple for a while now, also has reported that Ryan Olsen, a 20-year-old forward, may well end up back in Kelowna, where he played the last two seasons. A sixth-round pick by the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL’s 2012 draft, he is with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.

In 275 regular-season WHL games, the first 130 of them with the Saskatoon Blades, Olsen, who is from Delta, B.C., had 166 points, including 84 goals.

A note from Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “The Pats have recalled D Nathyn Mortlock from the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires for the second time this month. He’ll fill in for D Chase Harrison, who was injured on a hit from behind by Carter Rigby on Sunday against Swift Current. Rigby has been suspended by the WHL, with the length TBD.”

The Kamloops Blazers are into Vancouver tonight for a game against the Giants. As Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province reports right here, both head coaches — Don Hay of the Blazers and Claude Noel of the Giants — have close ties to Ken Hitchcock, who now is the head coach of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues.—

When Saskatoon dealt F Cory Millette to the Prince Albert Raiders on Nov. 20, Blades GM/head coach Bob Woods said he made the move in order to free up playing time for Russian F Nikita Soshnin. As Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix writes right here, Woods is quite pleased with the results.

The Seattle Thunderbirds aren’t interesting in going head-to-head with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, and who can blame them. . . . The Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans were to have played on Saturday, Jan. 10, 7:05 p.m., at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. However, the Seahawks, the defending Super Bowl champions, will play their first playoff game on Jan. 10, at 5:15 p.m. . . . So the hockey game has been moved to Sunday, Jan. 11, 5:05 p.m.

The Moose Jaw Warriors are four points out of a playoff spot. They have 35 games remaining. With the trade deadline arriving on Jan. 10, will the Warriors (15-19-3), who have lost five straight games, be buyers or sellers? Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has more right here.

Jeff Chynoweth, the general manager of the Kootenay Ice, has told Scott Fisher of the Calgary Sun that he won’t be trading away his best players between now and the deadline. That story is right here.

F Austin Carroll of the Victoria Royals won’t be suspended after being hit with a slashing major and game misconduct in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars on Sunday night. The WHL reviewed the situation and decided that “there is no further discipline warranted.” . . . Carroll scored twice in that game before being ejected at 14:02 of the third period. . . . The Royals are at home to the red-hot Spokane Chiefs on Friday and Saturday nights.

Meanwhile, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers were fined $250 each for the fight between goaltenders Zac Robidoux and Nick Schneider on Sunday night. . . . Just in time for the WHL’s New Year’s Eve bash, too!

What goes on at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocate Centre in Calgary? Allan Maki of The Globe and Mail takes a look right here.

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— Lee-Gaye Hicketts (@lhicketts)