There was no need for a third man in on the king of Kings' Friday afternoon sports panel on CFRC 101.9 FM (cfrc.ca).
TV Cogeco's Mark Potter and Tim Cunningham aired out the Kingston Frontenacs organization, specifically owner Doug Springer and GM-for-life Larry Mavety for nearly a hour on Friday. It was almost cathartic. They gave voice to what Cunningham, the former Queen's hockey coach, called "a real anger developing towards the Kingston Frontenacs," who have not won a playoff series since 1998. Potter, using the needle he wielded to great effect as the sports anchor at CKWS in the '80s and '90s, suggested Ted Nolan or the ex-Leafs coach Paul Maurice is a possible saviour.
It means so much more coming from them. It is one thing to put on a blog that Mavety has to go ("Fronts GM-for-life should be sacked over team's arrested development," March 31, 2007) or that the only hope is to have a former NHLer buy the team off Springer ("Captain Kirk is our Obi-Wan (as in only hope)," Jan., 7, 2008) and do what Bob Boughner and Warren Rychel have done with the Windsor Spitfires. It is bound to get more attention when it's two hometown media guys who have been around major junior hockey in Kingston since the Canadians came into being in 1973-74.
The whole schebangabang is available for download, thanks to some work by MisterDB from Fronts Talk. Tyler should soon add something in a more compressed format.
Meantime, here are some highlights:
Cunningham, on the low attendance (announced at, wink, 2,894 for last night's loss to Peterborough): "There is a real anger developing towards the Kingston Frontenacs and I don't know how you cure that. Winning is one way, but as I talked about earlier, you have to change the culture and they've got to make some fundamental changes. They would have to win a lot of games and have quite a playoff run for people to really forgive them and to consistently fill that building. Until that happens, we're going to see crowds like this."
The Potter proposal: "Well, you hire Ted Nolan, that's how you do. You phone Ted Nolan -- you should have phoned him in the summer -- and you say, 'Ted, what's it going to take to get you to Kingston?' And I'm serious about that. I think if they pay Ted Nolan the kind of money that I think he would want to come here, with assurance that he's going to have full control to run this hockey team, I think if you hire Ted Nolan tomorrow, within a month or two the K-Rock Centre's going to filled and you're going to have a winning hockey team."
Potter, on the attitude toward the organization: "I have never seen, ever seen -- and this is a team that once lost 28 games in a row -- I've never seen the negativity among hockey fans in this city that I'm seeing now. And a lot of it, obviously, let's be frank about it, this is an organization that has not won a playoff series in 10 years, and whether he deserves it or not, I think you'd have a pretty tough case to make that he doesn't deserve it, Larry Mavety bears the brunt of that, right?
"... The first step is to get rid of Mavety, obviously just to move him back to general manager is not the answer, get a guy like Ted Nolan, people say I'm crazy, but it would take a move like that to get a winning culture."
Potter, a few minutes later: "How about Doug Gilmour and Kirk Muller? If those guys owned this team, do you not think the community would rally around this team and do you not think they would have the right people in place and do you not think you'd have a winning franchise? I mean, look at Windsor, with (ex-NHLers) Bob Boughner and Warren Rychel. I mean, they had the worst owner in the league -- until Springer came along -- for 15 years and they turned that franchise around -- look at where they are -- and they've owned that team for three years. So it's possible, but you gotta let it happen."
Potter, on the team's lack of leaders: "It's ridiculous they don't have a captain."
Cunningham, on the need for change: "The Frontenacs have been handed a beautiful new building and an opportunity to change. The culture around the team has changed, but the culture within the team has not."
Cunningham, on accountability and the occasional lack thereof: "In fairness to the management of the team, I would wish that they would make themselves more available to tell the Kingston fans what they're doing. I think that there seems to be this disconnect between the fans and management, and because of the lack of communication, there seems to be this bitterness on the part of the fans."
On the refusal to make changes
Tim: "It's hard to know what the people in control are thinking. I would have thought there would have been some more significant chances prior to this. The word was after Coach Cassidy was fired (after a 2-9-1 start last season), from Doug Springer ... Doug said, 'I'm going to do whatever it takes to win.' Then it was, 'we're going to be a top four team in the conference. We're going to host a playoff series.' A few weeks, it was 'changes on the way.' They ended up trading for (forward Kelly) Geoffrey, who's on their third line."
Mark: "The way things work in the world of the Kingston Frontenacs, well, they beat Guelph and everything's great again and it's going to be that way for the next 10 or 12 games, where I think had they lost that game to Guelph, something might have happened this week. Either Larry Mavety replaced as coach or a key player traded -- something would have transpired."
Potter, on the permanent intermim coach: "I still fundamentally believe that Larry Mavety doesn't really want to coach this team ... it'd be very interesting to go back and dig up some of the newspaper reports from the first time he stepped down, which I guess was 2003, 2004, when Greg Bignell took over. As I recall it, it was, what, 'I can't relate to the players anymore' -- more or less paraphrasing -- the game has passed me by.
"... At the end of the day, people say to me, 'why is he still behind the bench?' I think he can be controlled by the ownership."
On the specialty units
Potter, on the league-worst power play (9.3%): "They really don't have a power play, per se. They just use their top two lines and intersperse them a bit."
Cunningham, on the league-worst penalty killing (76.0%): "I just don't see the aggression ... and that's coachable."
At least one Mav is good: "There just does not seem to be a system that this team is playing ... were it not for Mavric Parks, their win total might be one or two (instead of five)." -- Potter
One hopes that Mavety and Springer heard some of it and realized every last word was warranted from a strict business perspective. Apparently, a few hours later, Springer and His Royal Mavesty were asked to go on with Potter for a post-game interview after the Fronts lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Peterborough Petes. They declined, which says it all about the "lack of accountability" (Potter's phrase, with Cunningham concurring) with this sorry excuse for an organization.
Shame on them. You don't get better unless you're willing to listen. Ultimately, though, when you have people who command respect in the community willing to stand up and say the organization has to be overhauled, it's a good move.
Update: Via MisterDB, here are the highlights from Offsides:
Here is the post-game from TV Cogeco: