As a former goaltender, Mike Smith was totally in the right.
Great piece by Eric Francis. If Edwards’ statements are accurate (rather than just marketing talking) then it is going to be a bad stretch ahead to be a Calgary Flames fan.
Just when it appeared the Flames were finally ready to move wholeheartedly in the right direction, Edwards issued the type of directive that got this franchise into this mess in the first place.
Instead of building slowly towards something the city can eventually be proud of again, comments like that suggest the organization is destined to, once again, ignore the virtues of patience and better judgment by aiming for something that is not only completely unattainable but counterproductive.
Not so, argued president Ken King, who heard the rapid backlash.
“Trying to win and rebuilding are not mutually exclusive,” insisted King.
“We are not straddling the line of trying to balance — we are completely committed to the rebuilding process and should be judged on our recent and future moves.”
To think a team can jettison Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and likely lose Miikka Kiprusoff to retirement and somehow snap a four-year playoff drought despite receiving no NHLers in return is beyond nonsensical.
So, why even float the idea out there?
While it’s important players continue to strive for wins throughout the process, standings should be irrelevant the next year or two. Improving with a re-stocked lineup should be the goal, however long it takes.
Feaster admitted Monday he hadn’t been as intellectually honest as he could have been the last two seasons by mortgaging the future to help a bad team. Edwards’ stated goal promotes more of the same.
The stage finally appeared to be set the last week for a prolonged rebuild fans have been screaming for. Calgarians are willing to sit through the growing pains absolutely necessary for every organization in pro sport to endure before going from the basement to Cup challengers.
The Flames’ age-old mandate calling for a team to challenge for the Cup every year isn’t realistic. Every franchise in every sport has to eventually take a step or two back to take one step forward.
By trying to emulate the Harlem Globetrotters, the Flames have looked more like the Washington Generals by advancing past the first round of the playoffs once in the last 24 years.
25 years ago the Saskatoon Blades opened Saskatchewan Place with a game against the Brandon Wheatkings. That night I got a phone call with an offer to go to the game. Later that week I watched the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team practice in anticipation of some exhibition games they played at Saskatchewan Place. It was a big deal and an amazing stadium. Over the years I have seen a bunch of concerts, hockey games, World Junior Hockey Championships, and even some curling at now Credit Union Centre. The stadium is rather sterile but it’s ours and it’s fun to go tonight with some friends to watch the Blades play the Lethbridge Hurricanes (who when they were the Calgary Wranglers, where the first WHL team I ever saw play). It should be a fun game night. Monday I have a column out about Saskatchewan Place and stadium economics today. A lot has changed although I am glad the famous Blades Pac Man logo still makes an appearance from time to time.
I have been hearing for a while that Harper’s book on hockey is quite good.
The prime minister is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. He helped the group erect a memorial to James Creighton, one of the fathers of the game, and has invited several historians to 24 Sussex Drive to discuss his book and show off his collection of sweaters and hockey books.
The book was first mentioned publicly in 2005, when a friend told the Globe and Mail it was a hobby Harper became more serious about over time.
In 2006, Harper told CBC that he had hoped to finish it by then, but found it hard to put in the time. He described the research as “an escape from the pressures of the job.”
In 2010, a friend told a hockey researcher that Harper had completed a manuscript, but that he was unhappy with parts of it. He had personally hired (and personally paid) a full-time researcher — Greg Stoicoiu of Calgary. He has made several visits himself to the Hockey Hall of Fame Resource Centre in Toronto to dig through its collection.
In 2011, Harper said the book would be published in 2012 after eight years of working on it for 15 minutes a day.
It sounds like a cool project and until I read Stephen Maher’s article on it, I had no idea that there was a Society for International Hockey Research. I hope the publishing of the book coincides with a political lull to allow him to hit the sports talk shows. As good as the book is, I would love to hear the Prime Minister sit down with Bob McCown and the Prime Time Sports team for an hour and talk hockey.
Christmas for us started on the 23rd as we joined our good friends Gloria, Jerry, and Kristy for our traditional Christmas together. It was a bit different this year because of Gloria’s cancer but it was a fun night of exchanging gifts and hanging out. We gave some books (as is our tradition) but I gave Gloria a Sound Spa which should help her sleep while the boys gave her a plush blanket.
Because I like to make fun of Kristy, we gave her an Edmonton Oilers Snuggie. Because most of Kristy’s life is dedicated to a) staying warm and b) the Edmonton Oilers, she liked it.
Christmas Eve had Wendy working all day. This is the worst schedule she has ever had over a Christmas season and it hasn’t been a lot of fun for us as a family but that is the life of people working retail. I worked part of the day and then headed home to spend the rest of the day with the boys. We gave the boys two early gifts of some NHLPA hockey sticks so they could play some road hockey during the day. Of course it was freezing outside so instead of playing hockey, we just taped them up. While she worked, we packed up the Mazda and headed out to Warman where we spent the evening at Lee and Brittany’s place for a traditional Christmas supper of lasagna and fighting over who got the lasagna leftovers before opening gifts.
Lee is known to master such phrases as “less talking, more chewing” on Christmas Eve. While he loves lasagna, he loves presents more. In the past when Wendy was working, he would spend most of the day badmouthing Wendy and trying to convince Mark to open Christmas presents without his mom. He takes this whole Christmas gift opening seriously.
Of the delay in eating turned costly when Oliver was playing with Tika (Lee and Brittany’s dog) and fell nose first into the edge of the carpet. There was crying, rug burn, and blood all over the place. While Oliver’s new shirt paid a steep cost, all was okay. It wasn’t as if I didn’t expect blood, I just expected it over the lasagna.
Santa gave Mark a new HTC Desire C Android Smart phonewhile I got him a Fuji AV150 camera (and tripod). I had created a Instagram, Foursquare, and upgraded his Flickr to a pro account on Sunday. We made sure we had batteries, SD (and Micro SD) cards all ready to go. Now we have to download some apps which will mean some quality time on Google Play today. I gave him a 1932 Chevrolet Truck scale model to build, Oliver gave him some adventure and Star Wars blueprint books (and some Daytona 500 cologne). He also got a graphic novel story of Canadians in WWII as well as a book on how to create his own graphic novel
In his stocking he found a new watch, a big bottle of the worst cologne known to man, Brut 33 (Wendy wept tears of pain when I showed her the bottle) Mark also got some high quality headphones; both on the ear and in ear ones. The less I have to listen to 90s rock, the better.
Lee and Brittany gave him a Denver Broncos jersey with his name and number on it. Thank goodness Tim Tebow was traded before the season started. He was pretty excited with that. Almost as excited as Tim Tebow gets about everything.
He also got a Starbucks travel mug and gift card from myself. It’s a bit self-serving as he wanders down to The Lighthouse and takes me out for coffee. To keep all of his special memories safe, we gave him a small chest to keep some of life’s momentos.
All Oliver wanted was a pogo stick and I found him one from Santa on Amazon.com. I gave him a toy F-22 Raptor jet. I would have gotten his a F-35 toy but the price kept increasing until Stephen Harper told me not to get it for him. Mark gave him a rescue play set, a puzzle from the dogs, an Obi-Wan Kenobi lightsaber, and an Optimus Prime Transformer that talks. He is getting into hockey to I got him some mini hockey sticks and nets.
Lee and Brittany gave him a tricked out big wheel for Christmas. I immediately thought of this.
What’s scary is that I think Oliver would think that was a good idea.
His favourite gift by far was a Power Ranger that transforms into something else. He was quite jacked about it.
With the new iPod I gave Wendy for her birthday, I gave her a set of iHome speakers and some perfume. We got her an electric griddle and skillet (she asked for them), a new popcorn maker (which she was really excited about). Mark gave her a pink Zepco fishing rod which she was horrified of. Lucky for Wendy, the fishing is horrible in our part of Last Mountain Lake. We also got her some high quality over the ear and in-ear headphones. If nothing else she will be able to tune us out for Christmas. The dogs gave her some new knives and a kitchen scale. Not sure where they got the money to get those.
Lee and Brittany gave her a gift card for Dutch Growers which made her day. She’s out right now waiting for spring to hit.
I bought Lee a Leatherman Skeletool multitool and case. Mark got him Red Dead Redemption for the PS3, while Oliver got him a George Reed collector’s edition figurine. Lee and Mark got into an argument a couple of weeks ago where Mark called his uncle, “Uncle Glitter” which has kind of stuck. Mark got him some glitter stickers for his new iPhone 5. ”Uncle Glitter” didn’t seem to appreciate his nephew’s gift that much.
He tried to pull his knife on the Skeletool on Mark for bugging him but he couldn’t get it open. Once he got it open, he cut himself.
Brittany was given a nice fountain pen, two journals (one lined and one unlined), and an Indigo gift card. Because both Lee and Brittany are getting new iPhones, we tossed in some iTunes cards as well. Holding her Indigo gift card was Cooper the Bear which apparently has been a Sears mascot for years (a fact that I did not know). It just seemed to work well for us. Brittany is an english teacher and I just think an English teacher with a fountain pen is more intimidating. It was either that or do what the NRA is suggesting and that is to give her a firearm.
Wendy gave Brittany a soapstone statue of a couple from Ten Thousand Villages which I really liked. As much fun as it is to bug Lee, him and Brittany are a wonderful couple.
I wasn’t expecting too much but Wendy and the boys did a lot of planning and looking for good deals. Wendy gave me a trail GPS and a George Reed limited edition action figure, Oliver gave me a Toronto Blue Jays hat, Mark gave me Assasin’s Creed II and Red Dead Redemption. I also got a Leatherman Skeletool. To balance out my Tim Tebow action figure from last year, Wendy gave me a Peyton Manning action figure. Lee and Brittany gave me a remote control helicopter. It flies and crashes quite well around the house. Also because I don’t smell enough like David Beckham, I was given some of his cologne. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. To replace my old barbecue tools (that are showing some age), Wendy also got me a simple set of three barbecue tools which is all we really use.
The advantage to only periodically playing PS3 games is that I never own the new ones which means that Wendy can find me games for $10-$15 at Wal-Mart and it doesn’t matter since I haven’t played them.
I really had no more success than Lee in using my Leatherman today although no blood was spilled.
The photos can all be found here.
Today is being spent around the house setting up things, doing some reading, and then having a more traditional Christmas dinner. I had hoped to get get down to work but for the second day in a row, someone has swiped our power cords to the car which is frozen solid in this cold. We had planned to take a long walk downtown today with Mark’s new camera but as the song says, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Hopefully your Christmas is a good one and you are enjoying the time with family and friends as well.
Ask anyone who has had to haggle out a deal with Bettman behind closed doors and they’ll paint a picture of a brilliant, calculating and ruthless negotiator, who seizes every advantage, who when presented with an opportunity goes straight for the kill. He understands his opposition’s weak points, he knows his side’s strengths, and with a cool head and cold eyes he calculates the path to victory. That’s one reason why his employers, the owners, love him, and pay him the big bucks.
Consider the last NHL labour negotiations in 2004 and 2005. Employing classic divide and conquer tactics, understanding that hockey players in their hearts still feel darned lucky to be playing a game for a living, seeing the cracks in the infrastructure around Bob Goodenow, Bettman soon enough had the union membership enthusiastically sticking knives in the back of their own leader.
And the tipping point of that process?
When the players offered up a 24 per cent salary roll back to avoid a salary cap, and Bettman and the owners gratefully accepted their generosity as a starting point, and then ground them into the dust.
The players hired Donald Fehr as their union head because he is Bettman’s equal. He is there to guard them against falling prey to their own sentimentality about the game, to protect their interests in a negotiation in which everyone understood that they would be giving back, would be surrendering rights and surrendering money guaranteed in the previous collective agreement.
Clearly a student of history, Fehr began by restructuring the union hierarchy so that there was no longer a ready-made group of potential Brutuses who might be turned against him. Bettman and the owners have attempted the same strategy this time around, contacting players directly, whispering about revolts in the rank and file, suggesting that Fehr isn’t telling the whole truth, that it’s his presence alone that is preventing a deal. But so far, it doesn’t seem to be working nearly as well as it did against Goodenow.
We have now also had “good cop” owners enter the picture, we have had Sidney Crosby ride in on his white horse, we have had numerous propaganda volleys from both sides. But what’s been going on away from all of that staged drama is a hard, grind-it-out negotiation, with Fehr playing the same kind of frustrate-the-opposition defence that the New Jersey Devils employed in the bad old days.
It is going to be tough getting to the finish, though surely that’s still in the cards. Fehr is going to negotiate against a deadline – a real hard deadline to salvage the season , wherever that actually lies – and try to hold back any impulsive moves by his membership. Along the way, he’s going to grab whatever he can.
Like when the owners offered to up their “make whole” offer to $300-million this week, thinking that number would turn heads and shift the emotional tide and lead to the players rushing past the other details in their hurry to get back on the ice.
That’s great, Fehr said. Thanks for the money.
Now let’s negotiate the other stuff.
Gee, where have we seen that before?
As Saskatoon grows bigger, more and more people have talked about bringing a pro sports franchise to the city. Hockey has been dreamt about since Bill Hunter tried to bring the St. Louis Blues to Saskatoon in 1984. We saw one group try to bring the Phoenix Coyotes here for at least a couple of games a season and there has been been some talk of a CFL franchise coming to Saskatoon (even if it meant that it would kill the Riders). A pro sports franchise would be fabulous in the short term. We would sell out Credit Union Centre and cough up money for some much needed renovations and capital improvements. There may even a new stadium built downtown, where Credit Union Centre should have been built in the first place. That is how it will start out but let me tell you how it will end.
Over the weekend, the Edmonton Oilers’ owner and senior management went to Seattle to tour the Key Arena in an effort to get the City of Edmonton to pay for an even larger part of a $500 million dollar stadium deal. After getting the city to pay for the entire stadium up front and then giving billionaire owner Darryl Katz a sweetheart loan for his portion (to be paid back over 35 years), he wants an additional $6 million subsidy to run the arena. Instead of paying back his portion back $5.5 million a year, Katz is now demanding that he gets a free half-billion dollar stadium and $500,000 a year to run it. Where do I sign up?
Katz isn’t the only owner to behave badly. For every responsible sports owner with deep ties to his community, there are numerous ones that extort their community to buy them things or as the threat goes, they will move their franchise. The threat works as there is an empty hockey stadium in Kansas City and Seattle is building a new stadium to lure back the NBA (probably the Sacramento Kings). Hockey is an excellent second tenant to make even more money. Seeing everyone else do it, enables even local billionaires to behave badly. Katz which has deep roots to the Edmonton area and is a very profitable market with a very loyal fan base is basically blackmailing the Edmonton city council to give him the deal that he wants or he will move a team that has spent its entire existence in Edmonton to Seattle.
Now that Seattle has reached out to him (and he has reached back), expect a Kansas City visit as well. Why not play multiple markets off each other until Edmonton City Council responds to the bullying. While it doesn’t excuse Katz’s behaviour, many other owners behave the same way. The NFL has an empty Los Angeles market where the threat of teams moving to Los Angeles has gotten it better stadium deals in almost every market where the NFL has a new stadium. It will be used for leverage in the upcoming years in Jacksonville, Miami, Oakland, and San Diego. While FedEx Field in Washington is only 15 years old and still cutting edge, owner Daniel Snyder has already declared it as “half-life” and wants a new downtown, stadium. Instead of wanting Washington to pay for it, he is willing, if they give him a big chunk of land to develop for free. So why does a 15 year old stadium that is the largest in the NFL need to be replaced after only 15 years? He wants to keep up with the Giants/Jets/Cowboys and maybe even the new Rider stadium. EIther the Washington taxpayers pay for the stadium or give him premium land for his own profit. Either way, taxpayers pay. Just watch, if he doesn’t get what he wants, he will move the team. Threats of moving teams got a new stadium built in Miami even when there isn’t a great market left to move to and this was after Jeff Loria had already proven that he is the worst owner in sports (he destroyed the Montreal Expos).
Heading back to Seattle, the Key Arena was completely renovated in 1995 and brought to NBA standards. NBA commissioner David Stern called it state of the art but less than a decade later, he was in town demanding that Seattle build the Supersonics a new team, invest another $220 million into the stadium or they would move. When the city said no, the team moved to Oklahoma and became the Thunder. In 2002, the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans because of their antiquated stadium that was built in 1988. The fans supported the team through 364 consecutive sell-outs but even that wasn’t enough to keep the team in town. The stadium didn’t make it’s 20th birthday before being demolished (it was 13 years old when Charlotte had their first referendum on building a new stadium).
This is what happens. Billionaire owners of profitable teams want more and the expectation is that taxpayers give it to them. It happens all over the place and as Saskatoon grows, it will happen here, whether it is a NHL team, a CFL team or even a AHL team; it’s great for a while and then all of us have to pay up for the right to buy tickets to watch a team. It’s a sick system and I feel bad for the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Oilers fans, and fans of sport in the city because it’s not right.
Will the same thing happen in Saskatoon? If pro sports come to Saskatoon in a real way, of course it will. We will tell ourselves that it won’t happen, we have local owners, and we are a growing market in a booming economy; just like Edmonton told itself when Katz bought the team. It’s only a matter of time.
It is not an election, of course, so perhaps the NHL is just ignoring public opinion, confident as ever that any anger will pass. But if they are trying, they could perhaps do better. It wasn’t just Romney-esque gaffes, though if you define a gaffe as accidentally telling the truth, then Jimmy Devellano qualifies. The Detroit Red Wings executive and alternate governor managed to offend players in an interview with something called Island Sports News, in which he could perhaps have spoken more elegantly.
“It’s very complicated and way too much for the average Joe to understand, but having said that, I will tell you this: The owners can basically be viewed as the ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle,” said Devellano. “The owners own the ranch and allow the players to eat there.
That’s the way its always been and that’s the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren’t going to let a union push them around. It’s not going to happen.” Listen, average Joe: it’s too much for you to comprehend that the really rich guys are the bosses, and they set the rules. Never happens anywhere else, especially for average Joes. Some players responded on Twitter by mooing, just as Ted Lindsay would have done.
Devellano then talked about the “unwritten rule” about not signing restricted free agents to offer sheets, and the fact that not every owner follows that unwritten rule might be the only thing that keeps it from being an admission of collusion. Which Don Fehr, having successfully fought collusion in baseball, just might sprinkle into his motivational speeches should the players waver.
The US$250,000 fine the Detroit Red Wings received will probably keep any other owner or executive from speaking their minds, but sometimes you can divine an owner’s intentions by his dealings with Edmonton City Council. As the league attempts to reduce the players’ share of revenues, Oilers owner Daryl Katz was trying to increase the share of public investment in an arena that is already slated to cost almost half a billion dollars.
“In our view, it is the team that acts as a subsidy for a city’s arena, which is effectively infrastructure, not the other way around,” Katz said in an interview with The Edmonton Journal. “For our part, on the other hand, we’re taking a lot of risk by committing to one of the NHL’s smallest markets for 35 years.” Well, study after study shows that sports arenas do not actually spur economic benefits, so no, the subsidy actually goes the other way. And while Forbes is no Bible when it comes to NHL finances, it puts Edmonton right in the middle of the league in 2011 revenues, and shows the team to be substantially profitable over the last five years. Oh, and city councillor Tony Catarina told the Journal, “They don’t want to pay taxes. They want help now in operating the arena. They want a guaranteed ($6-million per year) subsidy. They want the city to be their tenant in a major office building. They want the casino licence.” Helpfully, the NHL has told Edmonton city council that “absent a lease, and with no state-of-the-art arena either being constructed or about to be, the Oilers would be a candidate for relocation,” according to Journal columnist John MacKinnon. The Oilers official Twitter account then retweeted a link to that column, which as social media strategy goes is a hell of a way to connect with your fans. Nice little hockey team you got here. Shame if anything were to happen to it.
Sinden: To tell you the truth, I was acting. I knew exactly what I was doing. I remember Ken Dryden skated up to me and said: “Take it easy, coach.” I calmed down instantly and said, “Kenny, you haven’t stopped a puck for seven games. Get back in your net.”
- Take the stairs to the top of The Lighthouse at least daily. This seems like a really good idea now that building is only four stories but when the new tower is nine stories this summer, it could be a really bad idea.
- Carry less crap. There are days when I go to work with my DSLR, a video camera, my notebook, a Moleskine, an iPod, and my cell phone. Do I really need that much stuff? Well considering that I have never used all of it in a single day, probably not.
- Ride my bike more. Wendy has a Dave King inspired goal of riding 750 kms this year. I think I will join her although none of those miles will be done at Ice Cycle which I still think is insane, no matter how many people enjoy cycling in –40 weather.
- Read more books in 2012. Darryl Dash has a post on how he wants his reading to more focused which I tend to go the other way. I want to read and explore topics that I haven’t explored before, understand new things, and then figure out how they fit together later. In the spirit of Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book The Ingenuity Gap, I want to be a deep generalist. Part of it is the column I write but part of it is cultivating a spirit of curiosity. It may be because I am at a point of life when I have a lot to learn and I don’t have the need to be a specialist.
- Contribute more to the matrix of agencies that I am a part of as a staff member at The Lighthouse. Some of those actions are proprietary but I can’t handle agencies that don’t play that well with others. It comes from an atmosphere of fear and competition that doesn’t need to exist. Hopefully we can model a different way.
- Spend more money locally. Saskatoon Farmer’s Market, Souleio, Broadway Roastery, The Two Twenty, Collective Coffee… you know businesses that are Saskatoon born and bred. Less Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and fast food joints.
- Attend more University of Saskatchewan Huskies and Saskatoon Hilltops games. The Huskies may have the best game day experience of any football team in Canada and the Hilltops because of what they did for Mark’s understanding of football in 2011. That and all they do is win national championships.
- Post more photos. Despite having a decent camera phone camera, a DSLR, and a pretty good compact camera, I took far too photos in 2011. That needs to change in 2012.
- Keep losing weight in 2012. I lost 40 pounds since my heart event this summer and I want to lose another 120. I should have it lost by next Christmas.
- Listen to more music. I love music but I rarely take time to listen to it. It’s always a background activity and never a foreground one.
Those are my resolutions. Good luck with yours.
Ever since Winnipeg decided to build the MTS Centre to only hold just over 15,000 people, I have questioned whether they would ever get a NHL team back. Well it appears they will but the question remains, will it be sustainable in the smallest hockey arena in the league. The Boston Globe doesn’t think so.
All of which is to say that Manitoba has the kind of open space and passing lanes that could turn even Dennis Wideman into a Norris Trophy candidate. If the NHL is going to land there again, the initial pop will be enthralling, intoxicating. Returning an NHL team to that bit of Canadian soil would be like bringing Paragon Park back to Hull. Initially, everyone and his cousin would rush to the rink.
Until the L’s piled up.
Until Winnipegers realized the sticker shock of $120 lower-bowl seats and $250 suite seats (extra for the handwarmers).
Until American TV interests made it clear that they would prefer to air senior women’s bocce tournaments out of Biloxi to anything happening in Winnipeg. Shortsighted, perhaps, but there is a reason TV is referred to as the small screen.
For all Winnipeg has to offer, in terms of city size and sheer love for everything connected to the vulcanized rubber and carbon stick industry, it remains a real stretch for big-time hockey.
As for stadium size, The MTS Centre (15,015) is smaller than Rexall Place (16,839) by over 1000 seats and is over 6000 seats smaller than many new arenas. It’s even smaller than the old Winnipeg Arena (although it does have luxury boxes and other revenue streams that it does not). There also is the question of corporate sponsorship. While Winnipeg is home to an impressive amount of crown corporations, is there the corporate money to keep paying for the boxes and paying top dollar for sponsorship money?
I think it is going to be tight. Winnipeg doesn’t have the wealth that Edmonton does and even the Oilers have struggled at times to fill Rexall Place (which is still a great place to watch hockey – not the Oilers but a good hockey team) and the Flames had a hard time filling the Saddledome this year. I am not talking about the 2011 season but in 2017, things could be a lot tougher than people want to think about. Oh well, they can always move to Kansas City. via