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Tale of two cities

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12-20-2004, 02:49 PM
  #1
shveik
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Tale of two cities

I want to illustrate one of the reasons that make me oppose a hard cap. One need to go no further than looking at the two storied hockey franchises located in two very similar markets, not far away from each other. Detroit and Chicago. Detroit was THE powerhouse of the 90s, boasting many future HOFers in the lineup, and displaying an elite level of hockey. Before then, they sucked BADLY. The attendance was worse than todays Carolina (yes, that IS possible ). Through draft and a few smart trades they have built a team that was the foundation of 10 years of great success (Illitch was inducted into the HOF as a builder for a reason). The attendance soared, the media contracts swelled. The money was used to keep the success going (pay the elite players on the team the elite salaries they deserved, and, more recently, to prolong the glory several years past due time). The high level of hockey and success of the Red Wings not only have increased the revenues within Detroit market, but league-wide as well.

Chicago, on the other hand, went over the same period of time from a strong contender making the playoffs every year, to almost a bottom dweller. Some horrible drafting, and awful trades, and the penny-pinching attitude of the owner did the trick. I think it was one of the most shameful things for the NHL when Wolves of the AHL outdrew Blackhawks in one of the oldest NHL cities.

So, how will it be with the cap? Well, the teams will never have the luxury of being at the top for a long time. They will enjoy 3-4 years of making the playoffs interchanged with 3-4 years of not making the playoffs. One out of every 5 of the "good" periods the team will win the Cup, i.e. on the average once every 30 years. And IMO what is more important, there will not be any powerhouses. It won't be worth it for the average fan to follow the playoffs if his team isn't in it. There won't be top level hockey rivalries like Detroit and Colorado, that would make you tune in even if you are not a fan of the Wings or the Avalanche, or even hockey. IMO those types of rivalries and top notch hockey reach across the markets, and sports, to gain new fans. I was kind of looking forward to Philly vs. Tampa epic battles similar to the ones Wings and Avs used to have.

The salary cap will not only cap the expenses, it will cap the highs and lows that a team can achieve. I would hate capping the highs, I think the highs bring the level of hockey and level of interest in hockey up throughout the league. And do not hold the fact that I am a Detroit fan against me. Remember this:

1) Detroit is due for a rebuild period anyways, so cap is actually benefitial to us - it is a good excuse to stop signing overpaid mercenaries.
2) The so-called "large market" status wasn't handed to Detroit, it was created out of ashes. I think people are forgetting that.
3) I would rather have clashes of the titans like Wings vs. Avs circa late 90s instead of bland parity that cap promises to bring. Even if none of the "titans" is Detroit.
4) Building the team and success come first. Large market status and spending money to keep the good thing going comes after that. Attempts to circumvent this rule by "bootstrapping" the success (buying the star team) have so far failed miserably.

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12-20-2004, 03:01 PM
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Matt13
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I dont see how this a comparison.

Illitch wanted to win. He spent the money to win, won, kept winning, and the bandwagon fans, the fans who forgot they were fans in the dry years, and new fans kept the Joe a sell out, the tv ratings for wings games high and the red wings merchandise rolling out the doors.

Look at the payrolls of the two teams and look who is commited to his team.

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12-20-2004, 03:19 PM
  #3
shveik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herbie Verstinks
I dont see how this a comparison.

Illitch wanted to win. He spent the money to win, won, kept winning, and the bandwagon fans, the fans who forgot they were fans in the dry years, and new fans kept the Joe a sell out, the tv ratings for wings games high and the red wings merchandise rolling out the doors.

Look at the payrolls of the two teams and look who is commited to his team.
Do not mess up the sequence: he built a team, WON, THEN spent money to keep winning, THEN spent even more money in the hope to keep winning.

One of my points is this. The big bad Detroit franchise, one of the "large market" boogiemen of Bettman's, is actually one of the best run franchises in the NHL. I brought up Chicago as an example of a team that could've been "large market" but isn't.

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12-20-2004, 03:22 PM
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shveik
Do not mess up the sequence: he built a team, WON, THEN spent money to keep winning, THEN spent even more money in the hope to keep winning.

One of my points is this. The big bad Detroit franchise, one of the "large market" boogiemen of Bettman's, is actually one of the best run franchises in the NHL. I brought up Chicago as an example of a team that could've been "large market" but isn't.
Yeah but in your big plan of things, you have to know that the team you build is going to cost you money. Detroits ownership is dedicated to winning. You cant question that but you can with a lot of other teams.

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Old
12-20-2004, 03:46 PM
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shveik
I want to illustrate one of the reasons that make me oppose a hard cap. One need to go no further than looking at the two storied hockey franchises located in two very similar markets, not far away from each other. Detroit and Chicago. Detroit was THE powerhouse of the 90s, boasting many future HOFers in the lineup, and displaying an elite level of hockey. Before then, they sucked BADLY. The attendance was worse than todays Carolina (yes, that IS possible ). Through draft and a few smart trades they have built a team that was the foundation of 10 years of great success (Illitch was inducted into the HOF as a builder for a reason). The attendance soared, the media contracts swelled. The money was used to keep the success going (pay the elite players on the team the elite salaries they deserved, and, more recently, to prolong the glory several years past due time). The high level of hockey and success of the Red Wings not only have increased the revenues within Detroit market, but league-wide as well.

Chicago, on the other hand, went over the same period of time from a strong contender making the playoffs every year, to almost a bottom dweller. Some horrible drafting, and awful trades, and the penny-pinching attitude of the owner did the trick. I think it was one of the most shameful things for the NHL when Wolves of the AHL outdrew Blackhawks in one of the oldest NHL cities.

So, how will it be with the cap? Well, the teams will never have the luxury of being at the top for a long time. They will enjoy 3-4 years of making the playoffs interchanged with 3-4 years of not making the playoffs. One out of every 5 of the "good" periods the team will win the Cup, i.e. on the average once every 30 years. And IMO what is more important, there will not be any powerhouses. It won't be worth it for the average fan to follow the playoffs if his team isn't in it. There won't be top level hockey rivalries like Detroit and Colorado, that would make you tune in even if you are not a fan of the Wings or the Avalanche, or even hockey. IMO those types of rivalries and top notch hockey reach across the markets, and sports, to gain new fans. I was kind of looking forward to Philly vs. Tampa epic battles similar to the ones Wings and Avs used to have.

The salary cap will not only cap the expenses, it will cap the highs and lows that a team can achieve. I would hate capping the highs, I think the highs bring the level of hockey and level of interest in hockey up throughout the league. And do not hold the fact that I am a Detroit fan against me. Remember this:

1) Detroit is due for a rebuild period anyways, so cap is actually benefitial to us - it is a good excuse to stop signing overpaid mercenaries.
2) The so-called "large market" status wasn't handed to Detroit, it was created out of ashes. I think people are forgetting that.
3) I would rather have clashes of the titans like Wings vs. Avs circa late 90s instead of bland parity that cap promises to bring. Even if none of the "titans" is Detroit.
4) Building the team and success come first. Large market status and spending money to keep the good thing going comes after that. Attempts to circumvent this rule by "bootstrapping" the success (buying the star team) have so far failed miserably.


I've made this point several times on this board, and it is largely ignored. Large hockey markets are grown by successful teams. They are not just handed to a select few teams. Fans turn out for a winner. That in turn leads to more tickets sold, higher ticket prices, better TV deals, more advertising revenue, more merchandise sold, etc. Detroit was not raking in revenue during it's dry period. Denver was considered a "poor hockey market" in the late 70s/early 80s, which was why the Rockies were moved to New Jersey. But once an elite team is in there, they generate money hand over fist.

There are only two large markets that would remain as such in a dry period (NY and Toronto). The other large markets got that way through building good teams and marketing their teams well. The "large market teams that win all the time" are not going to win forever. Detroit and Colorado are on their last legs. Other teams will rise up and become the next large market teams. Tampa (and Nashville to a lesser extent) would have experienced a huge rise in demand had the work stoppage not hijacked all their momentum. And if they kept winning and went deep into the playoffs again, the demand would rise further.

IMO, the only teams that need real support from the league are the Canadian teams. Their money problems are rooted in the weak (though gaining) Canadian dollar and the large tax burdens placed on them. But the struggling US markets are struggling because either (a) they aren't putting a good product on the ice, (b) they aren't marketing their team well enough, (c) they have a bad arena, (d) they just aren't in a market that can support an NHL team, or some combination of the above.

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12-20-2004, 03:57 PM
  #6
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Didn't Detroit lose money the last two seasons?

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12-20-2004, 04:00 PM
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shveik
I want to illustrate one of the reasons that make me oppose a hard cap. One need to go no further than looking at the two storied hockey franchises located in two very similar markets, not far away from each other. Detroit and Chicago. Detroit was THE powerhouse of the 90s, boasting many future HOFers in the lineup, and displaying an elite level of hockey. Before then, they sucked BADLY. The attendance was worse than todays Carolina (yes, that IS possible )

good post, and it refelcts my general feelings on the situation too.

I do have to point out that Detroit's attendance wasn't that bad in the 80's, and the reason it was bad in the 70's I think was more due to the Olympia being located in one of the worst parts of Detroit. Leon Spinks was once mugged outside of the Olympia about a year after he lost the heavyweight title. No doubt the Red Wings' horribleness contributed, but I think it was more that people didn't want to risk getting killed to see hockey, not that they didn't want to see hockey.

Their attendance in the 80's was near the top of the league, including a couple NHL record seasons.

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12-20-2004, 04:08 PM
  #8
shveik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceber
Didn't Detroit lose money the last two seasons?
Nobody is perfect, and IMO hanging on to the shade of past glory was a wrong decision. Rebuilding in Detroit is overdue by a couple of years, and now its going to be more painful than it had to be.

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12-20-2004, 04:11 PM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shveik
Nobody is perfect, and IMO hanging on to the shade of past glory was a wrong decision. Rebuilding in Detroit is overdue by a couple of years, and now its going to be more painful than it had to be.
A team with good attendance that makes the playoffs shouldn't lose money. They shouldn't need to rebuild to become profitable, the players should just be paid a bit less.

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12-20-2004, 04:44 PM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceber
Didn't Detroit lose money the last two seasons?
they may have, but they made a big profit in 2002 when they won the Cup, and were profitable in the years preceding the last Cup. Those profits were reinvested in the team. That investment hasn't paid off at this point, but that was a risk Ilitch was willing to take. He made a decision that he could afford to lose x amount. He knew the risks, and is not asking 29 other teams to pay for his mistakes.

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12-20-2004, 04:57 PM
  #11
shveik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceber
A team with good attendance that makes the playoffs shouldn't lose money. They shouldn't need to rebuild to become profitable, the players should just be paid a bit less.
They weren't paid as a team that makes the playoffs. They were paid as a Cup contender. That's what I said, trying to buy success in the past 2 years was a mistake. Grossly misjudging your assets should put you in a bit of a pickle, no?

And they do not need to rebuild to become profitable, they could've stayed profitable if they did not sign CuJo, Whitney, Hatcher.

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12-20-2004, 06:28 PM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shveik
Do not mess up the sequence: he built a team, WON, THEN spent money to keep winning, THEN spent even more money in the hope to keep winning.

One of my points is this. The big bad Detroit franchise, one of the "large market" boogiemen of Bettman's, is actually one of the best run franchises in the NHL. I brought up Chicago as an example of a team that could've been "large market" but isn't.

Don't bother wasting your breath. The same thing happened in Philadelphia.

Some seem have never hear of the phrase "you have to spend money, to make money"

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12-20-2004, 07:28 PM
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Why is it that anti-cap types are constantly saying "just set a budget and live with it, owners can control themselves", yet *always* denounce Chicago, a team that has done just that, as some sort of pariah?

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12-20-2004, 07:40 PM
  #14
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Originally Posted by PecaFan
Why is it that anti-cap types are constantly saying "just set a budget and live with it, owners can control themselves", yet *always* denounce Chicago, a team that has done just that, as some sort of pariah?
Because the Chicago Blackhawks recently passed the Clippers and Arizona Cardinals as the worst owned/managed team in all of professional sports.

Chicago once one of the best hockey towns in the US, now has touble filling much more than half the building.

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12-20-2004, 08:17 PM
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Flyers Fan
Because the Chicago Blackhawks recently passed the Clippers and Arizona Cardinals as the worst owned/managed team in all of professional sports.

Chicago once one of the best hockey towns in the US, now has touble filling much more than half the building.

A bit part of that is

a) team is still rebuilding

b) he still charges full noise for the tickets


Good teams are built on lots of suckage, suckage means good picks. Fans don't like suckage. Remember how bad Detroit was in the 70s & 80s, how long it took them to turn it around, how bad their fan turnout was at times? Are the Hawks any worse? Wirtz might be a tight wad tool but he's stockpiling plenty of young talent.

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12-20-2004, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by me2
A bit part of that is

a) team is still rebuilding

b) he still charges full noise for the tickets


Good teams are built on lots of suckage, suckage means good picks. Fans don't like suckage. Remember how bad Detroit was in the 70s & 80s, how long it took them to turn it around, how bad their fan turnout was at times? Are the Hawks any worse? Wirtz might be a tight wad tool but he's stockpiling plenty of young talent.
Bottom line is that Wirtz doesn't care. When fans believe that an owner feels like $$$$$ are more important than winning they can tell, and that's why they stay away.

Since you're in excuse making mode, I'd love to hear your reason for why the Hawks don't televise their home games.

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12-20-2004, 08:43 PM
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PecaFan
Why is it that anti-cap types are constantly saying "just set a budget and live with it, owners can control themselves", yet *always* denounce Chicago, a team that has done just that, as some sort of pariah?
1) Chicago has been, by far, the worst drafting team in the NHL in the last 15 years. And one of the worst trading teams.

2) Chicago's financial decisions have been ridiculous. They couldn't find the cash to keep guys like Belfour and especially Roenick, but at the same time they were giving ridiculous contracts to the likes of Doug Gilmour.

Yes, they've kept a budget and stuck to it, but they've been managed in a completely incompetant fashion for the last decade.

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12-20-2004, 09:34 PM
  #18
shveik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PecaFan
Why is it that anti-cap types are constantly saying "just set a budget and live with it, owners can control themselves", yet *always* denounce Chicago, a team that has done just that, as some sort of pariah?
I do not mind a team that sucks and pays its players accordingly. The problem I have with Chicago can be summed up in one word: mismanagement. Not only Chicago team is having problems making playoffs, they had a revolving door for coaches/management, they overpaid their bad players, and underpaid their good ones, and they went out of their way to alienate the fans (as if the weak team wasn't enough). For an example of well managed "frugal" team look at Minnesota.

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12-21-2004, 12:31 AM
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PecaFan
Why is it that anti-cap types are constantly saying "just set a budget and live with it, owners can control themselves", yet *always* denounce Chicago, a team that has done just that, as some sort of pariah?
Because Bill Wirtz was voted one of the worst owner in pro sport by ESPN2. Heck he is ranked the 3rd greediest.

http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/owners/greediest.html

On the fan satifaction survey Chicago has the honor of being ranked dead last.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/sport...franchiseRanks

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12-21-2004, 12:48 AM
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanlady
Because Bill Wirtz was voted one of the worst owner in pro sport by ESPN2. Heck he is ranked the 3rd greediest.

http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/owners/greediest.html
Seems most of the owners on that list are on it because they expect their business to make money. Who'd have thought.

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12-21-2004, 10:50 PM
  #21
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Originally Posted by Kodiak
There are only two large markets that would remain as such in a dry period (NY and Toronto).
This simply does not apply in New York. Islanders or Rangers, win or lose. Those days are long gone. This is one of the worst hockey markets in the US for coverage today.

Even if these teams were dominate baseball now owns the NY market during hockey's regular season. Even basketball and football is flying under the radar trying to compete with baseball.

Nothing hockey can do here will change that.

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12-21-2004, 11:22 PM
  #22
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i never thought i'd see the day.

someone defending bill wirtz for what he's put the blackhawks' fans through.

SHAME SHAME

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