(WWSYFD is not an acronym for some new, horribly disfiguring communicable disease...at least not yet)
For those who have not crawled out from under their rock and read Julie's blog...please do so. http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=16214
Not only will it make you smarter, more attractive and almost irresistible to the opposite sex (and some species of tree frog)...but it will also urge you to answer the question of what you would do if you owned an NHL franchise.
We are all quick to b*tch (rhymes with witch) at the multi-multi-millionaires who own our respective teams when we think they are acting without our best interests at heart - myself more than included. Time to turn the lens back at ourselves and come up with what we would propose to do in their stead. I love the premise and have thought about it before.
Owning an NHL team. I can imagine nothing more rewarding, maddening, engaging, and challenging - truly a labor of love. Here are some of the things that I would propose to do if I were fortunate enough to own an NHL franchise.
* First and foremost, I would ensure that I was an active owner who made himself available and answerable to the fans. I would want my dreams (Cup), hopes (Cup) and aspirations (winning a Cup) to be understood by fans, players, media and Joe or Jane Q Public on the street. I will accept nothing less than the goal of winning a Stanley Cup and I want everyone from the GM to the guy who cleans the seats after the game to unerringly know where I stand.
I will discuss what that entails under the "fans" section.
* While being an active owner is my desire, the hockey decisions will
be left to the likes of Paul Holmgren, Brian Burke, Ray Shero and Bob Gainey. I will not pretend to understand the workings of the hockey GM's mind, I just know that I want the best one that I can get. My job is to overpay to bring him in, surround him with the best people he can come up with and let him do his job.
* When my uber-GM tells me he wants player X and can justify it, my job becomes coming up with the cash necessary to get that player into our sweater. Period. I want our name on Lord Stanley's hardware and if this player can bring me closer and my hockey people believe it to be a prudent decision - then I had better do my damnedest to support that decision and get the job done.
* I have but one rule when it comes to players - and it jibes with Julie's thoughts - Play hard, look out for your teammates and compete with a will to win. I demand maximum effort when you wear my team's sweater. I want to win the Cup and you had better want that too when you pull on your jersey. I can stand losing. But I cannot and will not accept a lack of desire. If you are not going to leave it all on the ice, go play somewhere else.
* I prefer hard nosed players. I will admit that. I could even imagine requiring the Gordie Howe Hat trick as a means of determining trade viability. That being said, I will defer to my GM and hockey people...if they want some [email protected]
Euro-style perimeter player, then that is their decision. I don't have to like it...I just have to open the checkbook.
* Disrespectful and malicious players need not apply. I am a purist and demand that the integrity of the game be upheld. The Jarrko Ruutu's and Chris Simon's of the world can play for someone else. Hockey is a violent and dangerous sport, but it also has rules - written and unwritten - that dictate how a player acts and what is expected of him. Those who routinely cross those lines and disrespect the game are not welcome on my team.
* I want every player to understand what hockey means to our fans that pay good money to sit in the seats and listen to every broadcast on the radio. It is imperative that we honor that knowledge with consistent, hard-nosed, spirited hockey. I want them to play with the same passion, love for the game and reckless abandon that they had when they first found out that they were good enough to go to the show.
* Fans are the lifeblood of this franchise. Without them, we play to an empty building. With them, all things are possible and we can intimidate the hell out of another team. At all times, we need to keep their best interests in mind.
* I believe fans should have the right to have their voices heard and that it is my job to give them as many opportunities to voice their thoughts, feelings and concerns in as many mediums as possible - a la "the Isles Blog Box." I hope that I would never be afraid of fans with opinions. I want people who care as much about putting a quality hockey team on the ice as I do. If they think I am not doing my best, then I want to hear it.
* To that end, I intend to have a "town meeting" in our building with all season ticket holders prior to the season to give them my "State of the Team." I want everyone to have a clear idea of my vision of where the team is and where we are all headed.
* Fans have the right to expect me to put a winner on the ice. They might not agree with every decision that Management makes, but in the end they have to put their faith in the abilities of those running the club. If they choose not to, then I want to hear that too.
* I want to do everything, within fiscal sanity, to allow everyone who wants to see our club the chance to purchase tickets at a reasonable price. This is a business, but there has to be a way to try to get those who want to our team play hockey that do not wear suits or watch from a corporate luxury box.
To that end, I propose the following:
One home game a month, all active servicemen and women get in free of charge and their families get in at half price. They will sit in a special group of sections with tickets reserved solely for them. If those tickets are not sold three days prior to the game, the tickets would be released to the general public.
Once a month I also propose that a game be reserved as a Father/Son or Father/Daughter game. For this game, the parent gets in at full price and the child pays half price. Young fans are the future and we must do a better job at attracting and keeping these burgeoning hockey fans.
* Beyond these examples of "special" type games, I want to find a way to keep the general admission prices for the upper bowl as low as possible. That one might take some doing, but it is a realistic goal that I will strive toward.
* I care a great deal about our fans and their experience while in our building. Because of that, it is my plan to stop the sale of alcohol at the end of the second period. I choose to do this for two simple reasons - 1) I want our fans, and anyone they might encounter on the roads, to arrive home alive and 2) I want everyone to be able to enjoy a quality hockey game without some of the unacceptable behavior that is brought about by fans who have too much to drink.
* Furthermore, it is my expectation that every fan (man, woman or child) deserves the right to watch a game without being exposed to crude, obnoxious behavior. This extends not only to our own fans, but also to opposing teams’ fans. If you cross the line, then you will be asked to leave - no matter what jersey you are wearing. We are all fans and we ought to be able to watch the game without being showered in beer or assaulted with obscenities. I will ensure that my security people enforce these rules to the letter and that violators will be escorted out. Further problems or repeat offenses will endanger the right of a season ticket holder to retain that privilege.
Above all else, I want to win a Stanley Cup every year. While I know that it is highly unlikely to achieve such a lofty goal, it is my steadfast belief that we are working towards that goal every day, in everything that we do.
Thank you for reading...