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12-12-2012, 04:35 PM
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A good example of a failed NHL franchise is the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I lived in Columbus for five years and in my mind it is clearly a fertile pro sports market. The metropolitain population is 1.7 million, and there are no pro-sports teams; closest thing are the ohio state buckeyes (who play 13 games a year) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (three hours away and Lebron James is gone). The city has a decent economy, largely supported by government and universities, but also with a surprising financial sector. There is a small cadre of dedicated hockey fans.

Its got a good arena as well, Nationwide Arena, capacity 18,144, it's a well-located arena that is right in the downtown core next to the triple-A Columbus Clippers stadium, next to a few office towers, next to some decent restaurants and bars, well accessible from around the city as the downtown is also the geographic city center, approximately. The same arena is used to host the annual bodybuilding expo "Arnold Classic". The Mayor is petitioning the NBA to relocate or expand a team into the arena.

Yet, the team is a failure, in spite of all these natural advantages. It has lost 19 million a year. It will lose 13 million if the NHL switches to 50/50 with zero make-whole on rollbacks. Why is that?

At some point, you have to stop saying that billionaire investors are all bold, risk-taking heroes, and that only employees can be to blame for when a business fails. The buck has to stop at the top. What's happened here is that a brilliant, easy opportunity was taken up, and completely fumbled. It's not because the players are overpaid. It's not because Columbus is in the sunbelt, as it snows heavily there. It's because the team has been completely mismanaged. In 10 years or so of playing they have one playoff appearance to show for themselves -- a 4 game sweep at the hands of Detroit. Their draft record is also atrocious:

2000, 4th overall, Rostislav Klesla
2001, 8th overall, Pascal Leclaire
2002, 1st overall, Rick Nash
2003, 4th overall, Nikolai Zherdev
2004, 8th overall, Alexandre Picard
2005, 6th overall, Gilbert Brule
2006, 6th overall, Derrick Brassard
2007, 7th overall, Jacub Voracek
2008, 6th overall, Nikita Filatov
2009, 21st overall, John Moore
2010, 4th overall, Ryan Johansen
2011, no 1st rounder, they gave up the 8th overall pick (Sean Couturier) along with Jacub Voracek to get Jeff Carter, whom they in turn traded for Jack Johnson and the 2012 Kings 1st rounder.
2012, 2nd overall, Ryan Murray

Overall, that is a massive legacy of failure. It reminds me of the 1990s Habs. Horrible drafting is the best recipe for minimizing playoff revenue. The fail did not happen because players are overpaid, nor did it happen because the team is in the sunbelt, as it's actually in Ohio. The fail happened because the team is mismanaged. That's why they're losing 19 million a year.

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