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Leafs, Habs and Canucks fans open wallets for playoff games

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Although the hockey team has advanced to the playoffs for the first time in nine years, it appears the suffering is continuing for long-suffering Toronto Maple Leaf fans, at least as far as the pocketbook is concerned.

The National Hockey League club has announced that it is hiking the price of first-round playoff tickets by as much as 75 per cent over the cost of a regular-season ducat.

And that's without even knowing yet the opponent the Leafs will play once the playoffs commence next week.

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According to Team Marketing Reports's 2013 fan cost index, the Leafs already boast the most expensive average ticket price in the NHL at $124.69 per seat.

Tom Anselmi, the president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the owners of the club, did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment about the increase.

Anselmi has been quoted as saying that the change is reflective to what other teams are charging for playoff tickets.

Anselmi's claim that the Leafs are just following the normal practice around the NHL may be exaggerating things a little bit.

The Montreal Canadiens, for example, who could be the Leafs opening round dance partner, have increased their average ticket price for the postseason by about 50 per cent according to Donald Beauchamp, vice-president of communications and community relations for the team.

Beauchamp said the increase is on par with what the club has done in the past.

Like Toronto, the Canadiens play before a capacity crowd for all its games at the Bell Centre, numbering 21,273, with about 15,000 of those seats taken up by season ticket holders.

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On Sunday, about 4,000 seats were made available to the general public and they were snapped up in about an hour according to Beauchamp.

According to Team Marketing Report, the Habs boast an average ticket price of $78.56 during the regular season, fifth highest in the NHL.

The average price of a regular season ticket in the NHL is $61.01.

The Canucks have kept their playoff ticket prices for 2013 steady with 2011-12, when they played three games, lost them all, and went out in the first round.

The increase in price of tickets from the regular season into the first round is roughly 50 per cent. Prices for the Stanley Cup finals are roughly triple the regular season, up 200 or so per cent.

A midrange ticket such as the lower bowl in the offensive end of the arena – where the Canucks shoot on twice  -- costs $111 per seat during the year. In the playoffs, the first round, it's $160, a 44 per cent increase. Should the Canucks advance, the price for round two is $190, the third round goes for $225, and the Stanley Cup final is $345, more than triple the regular season, up 211 per cent.

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The single most expensive seat – including the Best Buy Club in the rafters which is a bar and restaurant, with seating – is the club row 1, on the ice across from the benches, which in the season go for $185. In the first round, they are $270, up 46 per cent, the second round $315; the third round, $375; the Cup final, $565, more than triple – up 205 per cent – from the regular season.

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