A National Insult? Hardly
Great to see the country's "national newspaper" has taken on the task of being the propaganda arm for Jim Balsillie. Normally businessmen of that stature have to pay for such services.
The way that media outlet talks it is as though southern Ontario hockey fans are some great oppressed people straining under the rule of the tyrant Bettman, with the liberator Balsillie prepared to set them free. Guess the NHL commissioner's trips to Calgary and Edmonton in recent months to push for new arenas to support NHL teams in those cities was also about somehow denying Canadians their national birthright.
And here I was just thinking it was about the business of hockey.
Here's what's interesting. If Jim Balsillie had followed through on his original plans to buy the Nashville Predators back in 2007, right now he could be preparing to go to the NHL board of governors next month and make his case for relocating the team to Hamilton.
He could have spent the last two years building alliances with different NHL owners and gaining their trust. He could have been carefully courting the support of key league administrators and generally making himself known in the NHL community as something other than an unpredictable maverick.
Assuming the Preds had still not been able to flourish in Tennessee after two seasons under Balsillie's ownership, his fellow governors would have had to listen to his plea to move the team.
Theoretically, the Preds could have been in Hamilton by next fall. Of course, that would mean that all those people (15,000?) who put down season ticket deposits of $500 to $1,000 two years ago would be getting calls now to come up with the rest of the $8,000-$10,000 for a pair of tickets to see the Hamilton Predators.
Betcha a lot of people in this current economy would be thrilled to get that call, huh?
But Balsillie didn't have the patience for simply buying a team, getting into the club and then biding his time. He wants a team in Hamilton now, and on his terms. So to bankruptcy court in Phoenix today we go.
A couple of other points before we move on to today's mail bag.
-- Isn't it funny how those westerners who sarcastically ridicule Toronto as the "Centre of the Universe" are suddenly so impressed with us that they proclaim the GTA to be the logical place to place a second NHL club?
-- Got one comment saying Phoenix is a lousy hockey market because it has no history in the game. Fact is, the Phoenix Roadrunners of the WHL were the first pro sports team to ever plant roots in Arizona back in 1967.
-- The players union backs the relocation of Phoenix, but also wants the NHL to get off NBC and get back on ESPN. Well, where do you think ESPN would prefer a team? Phoenix or Hamilton?
-- Sorry, but 73,000 email communiques for Balsillie's website don't impress me. American Idol got 60 million votes for its competition on Tuesday. Now that impresses me.
Some questions for today:
Q: Hi Damien,
Quick turn from the NHL Playoffs to the AHL Playoffs for a moment. Do you find it odd that even under a new administration, the Toronto Marlies STILL played their backup over Pogge during the playoffs? (Game#6)
A: Odd? Not really, not this time. Last year it was about not giving Pogge a shot. This spring, well, Pogge got his shot in the NHL and was found wanting. I'd imagine there's a pretty good chance he won't be re-signed at all this summer. Maybe Adam Munro becomes the goalie of the future.
Q: Hey Damien,
Any news regarding the 'Monster' from Sweden? From what I've read he's been merely ok. Do you know if Burke still has interest or has things cooled off?
A: They're still interested. But it sounds like Jonas (The Monster) Gustavsson is going to shop his services around. In Toronto he'd get a shot at being No. 1. Not sure which other NHL club can offer him that opportunity next fall.
Q: Hi Damien,
In one of you recent blogs you wrote about the in-game entertainment packages in the Verizon Centre, the Wachovia Centre and Madison Square Garden which put MLSE to shame. Can you please provide more detail as to what these buildings are doing for their ticket paying public?
J. M., Toronto
A: Well, you have to go and decide for yourself if you find it appealing. It's just a livelier, more current show all around, less about performing skits designed to insult the other team and more about using music, video and atmosphere to create an environment in which customers feel inclined to participate, and not just when there's a simulated pair of clapping hands on the large screen.
During the playoffs, Damien Cox is answering your questions on a regular basis. Click here to submit a question.
**Note: please follow the link above to send a question to Damien. Questions posted in the comments section may not make it to the mailbag. Thanks.**