I promise this isn’t a sports blog but you’ll have to bear with me for a bit because it might seem that way.
The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas; Raider Nation is crushed but so what? Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, says that the Expos will return to the city that for a decade has been without a team since the Expos blew out of the Big O to become the Washington Nationals.
Should the Expos return to la belle province (Quebec, to those who are wondering), it will be courtesy of the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Baltimore Ravens were once the Cleveland Browns, and although Cleveland has a team again it still must smart that their beloved Browns left the dog pound in the middle of the night to go win a Super Bowl in Maryland.
The Buffalo Bills are playing footsie with the city of Toronto and have played a handful of ‘home’ games in the SkyDome over the last few seasons to show the city of Buffalo that they are serious about moving. If the city of Buffalo can’t come up with a new stadium, the owners are too happy to point out that they can play in a bigger stadium across the lake in Toronto.
The city of Quebec lost their hockey team, The Nordiques, to Denver where they became the Avalanche and won two Stanley Cups. Should the ‘Nords’ return to Quebec City, it will be compliments of the fans of the Carolina Hurricanes, who also won a cup in 2006 after moving from Hartford where they were called The Whalers, or “The Whale” to those of us who loved them.
The Hurricanes beat the Calgary Flames for their one and only Stanley Cup in 2006, and just the other day the current team President of the Calgary Flames said that if Calgary doesn’t build a new arena, they are going to move “somewhere” and not for the love of Lanny McDonald can I even contemplate the city of Calgary without the Flames.
Of course, the Calgary Flames were the Atlanta Flames before they relocated out of Georgia, and Atlanta has since given Canada a second NHL team when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg to become the reincarnated Jets. The original Jets took off to Phoenix a bunch of years ago to become the Coyotes who are rumored to be en route to Seattle. Unless, of course, they go to Kansas City, which hasn’t had a hockey team since the Scouts but that was so long ago that league doesn’t even exist anymore.
Seattle is looking for another pro team to support since they lost their NBA team to Oklahoma – I had to look that up to make sure it wasn’t the Memphis Grizzlies who moved from Vancouver where they were the Vancouver Grizzlies for a little while.
I live in Ottawa. Our NHL team is the Senators and now that the Canadian dollar is tanking against the U.S. dollar it won’t be long before ownership will threaten the city (and the fans) with a move if they don’t get a new arena downtown. They’ll get the arena is my bet, but it won’t stop the threats of relocation, certainly not when they collect Canadian dollars at the gate but pay salaries in U.S. dollars.
The fans are loyal, but the team isn’t.
We buy season tickets and walk-up tickets and we get what we were promised. Buy access to a game, see a game, transaction over, a deal is a deal. You get what you pay for, so what are you complaining about? You didn’t buy a ticket with a promise to see a win or even a good game; you paid to see a game or a bunch of them and that’s what you got. Why are you complaining?
Did you sit through some horrible seasons during the ‘rebuild?’ Cry me a river. That’s sports and sports is a business. Isn’t that what they tell you all the time on TV when an owner has to play hardball (sorry for the pun) with the city or a player over a contract?
Ken Holland … Hero
Ken Holland is the GM of the Detroit Red Wings, whose impressive record for consecutive years in the playoffs came to an end this season, 2017. The Red Wings will not be competing for the Stanley Cup this year for the first time since 1991. During this streak they won 4 Cups and offered up the most memorable goalie fight of my life. Bless them.
The smart thing to do would be to blow up the team, and everyone knows it. Trade the vets while they have some value, unload their expensive contracts for draft picks and ask the fans (or insist really) to accept mediocrity for a while, maybe miss the playoffs once or twice more, load up on even more draft picks and rebuild. This is the recipe that all teams follow; it’s the accepted formula. It’s smart business.
Smart business isn’t always good business, at least when you consider the spirit of business.
When the streak ended, and the reporters asked Ken Holland if he’d blow up the team, his reply was absolutely not. He said they would retool and not rebuild. He said it wouldn’t be fair to the fans or the city.
I’m sure that Ken Holland is disappointed to see the streak come to an end, but he isn’t abandoning the fans. He doesn’t consider the deal done. He isn’t saying, “We had a good run, 25 years of the playoffs and 4 cups … a deal is a deal. We owe you nothing.”
What he is saying is, “We owe you everything.”
He’s saying that fans trusted that ownership knew what it was doing when they lost a playoff round they shouldn’t have and crushed fans’ hearts. Fans bought their tickets and jerseys, they waited in line for burgers and beers and paid for parking, and they actually cared about the work being done there. Fans, he is saying, are committed.
This is what it means to be a fan. This is what we sign up for. This is what we love, and what non-sports fans just don’t understand.
My hunch is that this is what your customers signed up for too.
You owe them everything.
Go team. Shift with seriousness.