Sens shoot for ticket boost

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

The Senators have just the ticket for Ottawa hockey fans.

Senators president Roy Mlakar said yesterday the club will freeze season-ticket prices for the 2006-07 campaign in a bid to increase sales.

While the Senators have boosted their sales to 10,000 this season, they've set a goal of 12,000 for next year and 13,500 in 2007-08.

The club's peak season-ticket level of 11,300 came in 2000-01.

This season, the Senators have had 20 sellouts at the 19,153-seat Scotiabank Place, but Mlakar said the stress of trying to move tickets for every game is difficult. The Senators reduced ticket prices by up to 33% to entice the public back after the NHL lockout.

"What we're trying to sell the fans on is the scarcity of tickets," Mlakar said at a news conference yesterday. "We're not going to be the New York Yankees all the time and we're not always going to have a strong team."

LONG-TERM VIABILITY

Mlakar said season tickets are important to the long-term viability of the club.

"The fact is, for long-term success, you need to have a strong season-ticket base," he said. "We've been able to achieve the 10,000 mark with the return of hockey and by having a strong team."

Fans who buy in now will have a shot at playoff tickets this year and enjoy a bigger discount on seats for the post-season, which are going to be more expensive on a single-game basis. Season-ticket holders have until March 1 to renew for next season and buy playoff tickets.

"That's the whole strategy. People who buy tickets on a season-ticket base are going to get a significantly better discount than the people who get them for single games," said Mlakar.

"Everybody thinks what we've been able to do with a 10,000 season-ticket base is just incredible. That's because we've had success with single-game sales and the other initiatives we've been doing with group sales and in other areas."

HASEK'S THE MAN: Senators coach Bryan Murray is sticking with his hot hand. Murray said yesterday Dominik Hasek will make his eighth straight start in net tonight against the Canadiens at Scotiabank Place. "He has a history of being a very good goaltender on a nightly basis and he definitely has been that for us," said Murray. "A couple of games we've lost it wasn't anything other than us not playing well. And a couple of games we won, we didn't play well and he won for us." Hasek, who will celebrate his 41st birthday Sunday, said he likes the heavy workload. "I always feel good when I'm playing," said Hasek. "That's always the way it has been for me in the past. I feel good and I want to play as much as I can play. The only concern I have is my health, but I feel good. I know I can't play every game and it's up to the coach to decide when I play, but I think it's a good idea to stick with the hot goalie." Murray said backup Ray Emery, who has given up 12 goals on 38 shots in his last two starts, will get a start next week when the club plays four games in six nights. "(Emery's job) right now is to make sure he stops every puck in practice and he works really hard," said Murray.

AIMING FOR FIFTY: Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson (31 goals) and winger Dany Heatley (30) both are headed for 50-goal seasons if they maintain their current pace. "They are really playing well, there's no question about it," said Murray. "Points seem to come to them when they're together (with Jason Spezza). I would hope with the way it's going and the number of games left, they would have a real good chance at it. I don't see any reason why they can't do it."


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