Friday, January 09, 2009

Going down with the ship

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. The DeRo contract situation at TFC has taken a lot of my attention...As information is drying up there, I anticipate having more time here...

You have to admit. There is something fitting about seeing Wayne Gretzky standing behind the bench of the dying Phoenix Coyotes. The Great One, after all, has always been front and centre with the NHL's sunbelt push. Not only with his trade in 1988, but also in later years when he would defend the league's plans. Spiritually, he never really returned to the north, even after he moved away from LA to St. Louis and the Rangers.

The Wayner has been gone for 20 years now. We aren't far removed from the day hen he will have lived in the US longer than in Canada. The footprint strategy is Gary Bettman's, but Gretzky has always been its highest profile face.

So now he stands, alone (seemingly) behind the Phoenix bench as reports swirl about the impending death of the franchise.

The numbers are staggering. They are $80-million US in debt and already tapping into league revenue set aside for 2009-10. There are now 18 people looking for work, as the Coyotes were forced to lay off 10 per cent of its front office.

Troubling still, the Coyotes apparently need the NHL's approval for any major player or financial transaction. This isn't quite the final days of the Expos yet, but it's getting damn close.

And there are likely more Phoenixs out there - Atlanta, Miami, Tampa and Nashville for sure. Who knows about Raleigh. Even more traditional markets have to be hurting.

Yet the band plays on. Bettman tells us that all is well and Gretzky is still standing there like the Louis Mountbatten of the NHL's Operation Sunbelt. The situation is hopeless, but the league just keeps pushing ahead anyway.

Of course no Canadian fan need to be reminded of where the Coyotes came from. That's just another painful coincidence of this mess for the Canuck puckhead. Maybe we could buy into the long-term plan when No. 99 was ripped from the heartland. Perhaps we might even try to understand when little Winnipeg lost its team. But, not when the endgame looks like this. It isn't what was promised. It isn't right.

Apparently the lease in Glendale is such that it can't be broken. So, it's foolish, really, to suggest the obvious. But, everyone is thinking it anyway.

The solution to Phoenix is staring us in the face. It's time for the team to come home. And if the world is fair, Gretzky will come with it.


Anonymous said...

NFL = healthy league
MLB = Ponzi scheme that will probably work (ie: Amway)
NHL = Ponzi scheme that will fail (ie Arena Football)
So long hockey as we know it, all the Winnipegs and Quebec Cities in the world can't save it.

Nick said...

Winnipeg is ready. The MTS Centre is third busiest arena in Canada and gives the new owners a revenue source they didn't have when the Jets were there-all that coming from concessions and other events in the arena. 15,000 paying customers a night is better than 7,000 and 7,000 giveaways in Phoenix or Miami or wherever. Mark Chipman says it could happen. Why doubt the guy who has kept pro hockey alive in the city for the past 13 years. Go Moose Go. Go Jets Go.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, but the days of "major league" player salaries on a minor league budget will end.