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From the editor's desk: Tampa Bay ticket policies a step too far

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Protecting home-ice advantage is one thing. Treating your fans poorly to do it is another.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay's highly controversial ticket sale policies generated a strong reaction from around the hockey world. Fans league wide are outraged at the lengths the Lightning have gone to keep opposing fans out of their arena (with mixed results), and Tampa may have overextended its hand when it threatened to cancel or move the season tickets of an active-duty Army captain on the verge of deployment for trying to sell his tickets.

Hockey fans to the North in more established markets may not understand why Tampa's policy is so restrictive. But for Sun Belt fans, it's probably not a big surprise. You can ask pretty much any fan on Coyotes Twitter to share a story of opposing fans behaving badly in Gila River Arena, and they'll be able to give you at least one.

While visiting fans certainly don't have a monopoly on bad behavior at hockey games, teams in places like Arizona, Nashville, and Tampa have reasons to be concerned. One ugly incident between a visiting fan and a home fan could ruin the experience for fans attending a game for the first time, and in places like Arizona where the fan attendance rates are anything but robust, losing new fans is a major problem for the franchise.

So it should come as anything but a surprise that some teams would try to keep visiting fans out, in the hope that doing so reduces the chance of an incident occurring in the stands. But what Tampa Bay is doing is a step too far.

Tampa's enforcement of their policies are so overbearing and absolutist that they may be turning off Lightning fans who for whatever reason aren't able to go to a particular game. The prevalence of secondary ticket markets, coupled with the number of transplants who move from the Northeast and Midwest to Southern cities has also made the effectiveness of the policy hard to see.

Teams league wide should exercise caution when contemplating imposing restrictive ticket sale policies in the future, because as Tampa Bay is discovering right now, the PR blowback from doing so may not be worth the hoped-for increase in home-ice advantage.

Thoughts

  • Did anybody's draft stock fall faster in the past few months than Swedish defenseman Oliver Kylington's? Once pegged as a sure-fire first rounder, Kylington is now commonly seen as on the bubble between first and second.
  • The Coyotes could (and perhaps should) take a gamble that Kylington's rough draft season and injury were an unfortunate aberration and not at all indicative of his performance. His comparables according to some include Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, so clearly the talent is there.
  • Arizona can do it because it has two picks in the range that Kylington is thought to be available at (#29/30 and #32). So the Coyotes could take a flier on Kylington and hope he reaches his potential, while using their other selection to take someone a little safer.
  • Let's consider the following transaction:
  • Giving up Mikkel Boedker and the third overall pick might be a tough pill to swallow, especially given Michael Frolik is an UFA this year and Dustin Bugfylien is a UFA next year.
  • But, having three first rounders (and the #32 pick as well) in this Draft would give Don Maloney a variety of options. He could possibly trade back up into the Top 10, use a first or two to acquire a talented center, or hold onto all of them and load up the system with prospects.
  • I doubt Winnipeg makes this trade. At a bare minimum, both teams would have to be reasonably sure that Boedker and Frolik would sign with their new teams this summer. Winnipeg would also have to wait until #47 to pick again after #3.
  • If I were Don Maloney, I would definitely think about it though. I might consider asking for a forward or defensive prospect in place of Frolik or Bugfylien. I think my decision would depend on what kind of contract Frolik would be amiable to.
  • Interesting to see that Craig Morgan believes John Moore may not be in Arizona's long-term plans, depending on the outcome of arbitration/RFA negotiations.
  • That the Coyotes would tender offers to Moore, Klas Dahlbeck, and Craig Cunningham is not surprising. Dahlbeck was an important part of the Vermette deal, and Cunningham has demonstrated goal scoring ability at the AHL level. He might be a cheap option to play in the bottom six.