Last Friday, as I waited to board a homebound plane from Halifax, I was leafing through the Globe and Mail. Two excellent articles about the potential franchise move and the lack of print coverage for the Stanley Cup finals shared a page with…the Birth and Death Notices. Of all the ironies.
The announced sale of the Predators is nothing short of a Death Notice. Balisillie has been very clear about his interest in moving the team, and the Preds arena lease with the city allows it. A match made in heaven, to be sure. While the City of Nashville can still prevent this, it is unlikely that they will continue to spend millions in taxpayer dollars to keep a team that hasn’t been able to sort out its market economics despite a successful team and 10 years to try. City councils have higher priorities in a tough economy, like schools and roads. They are much likelier to run into election trouble spending money on a failing sports team than buying textbooks.
Before I go any further, let me simply say that I think this is a tragedy for the Predators faithful. It speaks well of them that despite having one of the lowest total attendance records in the NHL, they have one of the highest individual ticket sales totals. When the autopsy is performed on the Preds, the cause of death will be bad management. The fan base is clearly there, but they never had the corporate support that the team needs. That’s nobody’s fault but Craig Leipold – the opportunity was there.
And as long as we’re talking Death Notices, what about the lack of print coverage of the Stanley Cup here in the States? Whose Notice is this, the NHL’s or the Newspapers’? Only time will tell, but I think there is still time to decide. Perhaps, there isn’t a lack of print coverage, only a lack of newspaper coverage. Where are you right now, but thumbing through a virtual magazine about hockey?
More likely than not, what we’re really seeing is two Birth Notices on the horizon. The first is clearly a new NHL team. I have my suspicion as to where it will be, but I’ll save that for an upcoming blog. The second Birth Notice is of greater importance to me because is spells opportunity if the NHL can seize it.
The delivery of sports related news has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. Hockeybuzz.com is the perfect example of the future of media delivery. Here the news is delivered, debated and shared by a number of sources. There is more expertise among the readers and writers here than in all the sports desks of the missing newspapers combined. I count myself among the fortunate to be part of this birth; to be able to read and share and debate hockey with the sport's finest minds. Couldn’t ever do that with a newspaper.
So life goes on in the same cycle in the NHL as it does in the Halifax Obits. We mourn death and honor the memory of those lost. We share our sympathies with the families of the departed. And we look forward to the future with excitement and anticipation.