Ken's Rants: Balsillie and NHL Need To Remember Fans on Both Sides
I have to admit when I am more interested in the soap opera that is "as the Coyote turns" rather than the eternal crying of Sidney Crosby and his Penguins facing the dreaded Detroit Red Wings you know I'm sorta bored of hockey this season.
Lets be honest though, that situation is likely more important than the Stanley Cup. The ownerships, league, and franchise's failure in Phoenix has a lot more to do with just a name, city, and jersey change.
Is Balsillie wrong in wanting his team? No.
Or his vocal willingness to move the Canada? No.
Then the question becomes is Gary Bettman and the NHL wrong for wanting to keep the team in Phoenix wrong? No again.
I am in no way a lawyer, or corporate guru but I do know a little here and there. Even if Gary Bettman is somehow the good guy in this battle (doubtful) and Balsillie is the evil man hell bent on ruining the NHL in the United States (even more doubtful) then there are a few facts to consider.
The NHL first and foremost should consider revenue. The NHL can pump life into the Coyotes for another 50 years and never likely make it worth the amount spent.
Additionally, a new team in Canada, regardless of location, would make the NHL look kinder to our friends in the frozen north while getting a nice check to cash from fans in Canada.
Sadly the loser here regardless is the fans in Phoenix. I know a handfull who love their 'Yotes hockey, but even I feel its a failed endevor.
Would I love to see a Cup in the desert? You bet your ice skates I would, but I am not holding my breath for it.
Latest news shows that the NHL will likely be able to charge a relocation fee to Mr. Balsillie, and knowing in the NHL they will all but attempt to force out the potential buyer. In a legal sense this is 100% allowable, from a business perspective though it plain sucks.
Although the NHL should have a say in its 30 franchises, it should not be capable of dictating to the degree that it does who may, or may not own a team.
Whats a solution? Let Balsillie, without the relocation fee have his team, but the NHL and the court should force Mr. Balsillie to have a town hall meeting with every fan willing to show up to Jobing.com Arena to voice their concerns.
If he wants, he turn it into a real business oriented deal and try to sell tickets and whatever else he can to turn Phoenix residents into Coyotes and hockey fans.
He should also be forced to keep the team there for the 2009-2010 season. If the fans come through and show a renewed support for the team the team stays.
If not, he can have any city he wants as a new home. Then he alone will have to face the fans with his decision, not a board of governors and a commissioner who wouldn't know fan support if it hit them in the groin.
While owners fork out the cash and pay the bills, and the NHL handles the backround work the true owners of not only the NHL but the teams as well are the fans themselves. Even a failed team like the Coyotes deserve a voice since one is being given to most of Canada in support of Balsillie's effort.
Regardless, the fans both win and lose in this battle. The longer the fans on both sides are ignored for glamorized headlines on the legal proceedings the more clear it becomes that regardless of owners, team locations, or money, the bottom line is the fans are ignored unless it has to do with revenue.
Maybe it is time the fans remind everyone in the front offices who really holds the pen for the NHL's pocket book?
Ken Armer is a Senior Writer at Bleacher Report and a Community Leader for both the NHL and Dallas Stars. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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