Skip to main content

Endorsements

Got any good books to recommend?

Greatest Hits from Working the Net:

Harlow Salon - one of the very best hair salons in Nashville TN.

My Letter To Gary

Dear Mr. Bettman,

When the announcement was made a few weeks ago that Jim Balsillie had entered into an agreement to purchase the Nashville Predators, speculation immediately began that a relocation to South Ontario would come in short order, and many hockey fans in the Nashville area jumped to the conclusion that we'd see a "Major League" scenario, whereby the new owner would deliberately undermine local support of the team so as to trigger the escape clause in the team's arena lease. As for myself, I decided to give Mr. Balsillie the benefit of the doubt - surely as a lifelong hockey fan and player, he wouldn't do such a thing after acquiring one of the best young teams in the game, with the Stanley Cup potentially within reach.

I've waited and watched over recent weeks, and was initially encouraged by Balsillie's promise to field a competitive team, giving GM David Poile an ample budget to put together the best team possible. His legal representative Richard Rodier assured any and all questioners that their courtship of the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton was merely a contingency plan, just in case the lease terminated prematurely. Frankly, I agree that such precautions are justified, as the question of whether Nashville hits the 14,000 paid attendance mark might not be answered until late next spring, leaving only a few months to relocate the team for 2008-9, so lining up Copps as a fallback now is entirely reasonable.

Today's news, however, makes abundantly clear that Mr. Balsillie is doing much more than arranging contingencies, and is instead actively working towards the relocation of the franchise. As reported on TSN.ca this evening, effective tomorrow he'll be accepting season-ticket deposits in Hamilton before he even owns an NHL team, let alone one that is available or approved to relocate. Is this the sort of owner you want in the NHL?

Mr. Bettman, this is clearly a case where "actions speak louder than words." Mr. Balsillie has said all the right things about honoring the Predators' lease with the city of Nashville and giving things an honest shot, but this latest development couldn't make it any clearer that he has absolutely no intention of keeping the team here, period. The local business community in Nashville has launched an effort to increase season ticket sales (found at www.ourteamnashville.com) without any input or comment from Mr. Balsillie, who states readily that the franchise is still Craig Leipold's, so he's not in the position to offer comment. Yet somehow he's in a position to start taking deposits in Hamilton for a team he doesn't own, and isn't free to move at this time? That's simply absurd.

As demonstrated in the recent rumors regarding expansion to Las Vegas and Kansas City, there are a number of interested, well-heeled parties that would love to join the ranks of NHL ownership. Admitting Mr. Balsillie into those ranks would only grant license to the most callous and deceitful practices of big-time sports ownership, and potentially undermine other NHL owners who wish to negotiate with their host cities for new arenas. Why would a city enter a long-term deal with an NHL owner if they have reason to fear that they'll act in the manner Mr. Balsillie is now?

I hope you and the Board of Governors take your time and do a thorough review of what Mr. Balsillie is proposing in terms of his purchase agreement and relocation request - and at the same time, remember that no matter what he and his representatives are saying, it's their actions that belie their real purpose.

Sincerely,
Dirk Hoag, aka The Forechecker
http://forechecker.blogspot.com

Popular posts from this blog

How I'm Trying To Make Money Sports Blogging

To kick off this series of articles general sports-blogging articles here at OTF Classic, I think it's best to start with a comment that Brad left here last week, after I shared my goals for 2012, which include specific revenue targets:
I considered diving into the world of internet marketing myself, but I felt that my friends would hate me for bugging them about stuff. I mean, it's pretty low-risk high-reward, so it's tempting. I wouldn't mind reading about tips on how to maximize impact of blogging in general to make it a legitimate income source. Trying to make money at sports blogging can be a very touchy subject - for the vast majority of us, this is an activity we pursue to both exercise our creativity and share our love of the game, whether it's hockey, football, badminton, whatever, with fellow fans. Mixing that personal conversation with a commercial message can turn people off, especially if it becomes too intrusive for the reader.

It's not unreasonabl…

Canadian Baloney, starring James Mirtle

A tireless refrain from the Canadian media is that Nashville is an absolute failure as a hockey market, and failing to move the team north of the border is an exercise in folly by the NHL.

Our latest exhibit comes from James Mirtle, usually one of the more thoughtful hockey bloggers extant:
But Nashville, quite simply, has proven it cannot sustain an NHL hockey team. Even with the lowest ticket prices in the entire league (I know: I've looked into flying there for a game or two) and a ridiculously forgiving arena lease, the team has had attendance issues despite having one of the best records in the league.

It's not a matter of Canadians not wanting teams in the southern U.S.; I've argued time and again in favour of teams like Dallas and Tampa Bay that have supported their teams and really brought something to the table in terms of bringing news fans and new energy to the game. That's a good thing.

The Predators, however, are not that, not in the beginning and certainly no…

Hooray for PythagenPuck

Back in November, around the quarter-mark of the NHL regular season, I wrote a piece looking at Expected Winning Percentages for each team, based on their Goals For/Goals Against ratio, using the PythagenPuck method as outlined in Alan Ryder's "Win Probabilities" article over at Hockey Analytics. Since we're approaching the end of the campaign, I thought it worth revisiting the two assertions I made back in November - that the Ottawa Senators were capable of getting back into the playoff race, and that the Boston Bruins were in danger of a freefall to the bottom of the standings.

Just to review, the basic idea behind win probability models like PythagenPuck is that over the course of a season, the Goals For and Goals Against numbers can be used to derive a team's winning percentage, within a a surprisingly narrow margin of error. For instance, if you only had GF/GA information, you could make a very good stab at projecting what the standings would look like. The w…