Apropos of nothing in particular and while sitting for five hours at Dulles airport
Stop describing Sens fans as “fickle”
Try to imagine for a moment that sports are treated less like a religion and more like any other product or service. Say, like a restaurant. Now imagine that the restaurant was difficult to reach, and the quality of its cooking was pretty good, but variable. You never know if you’re going to get a real bummer of a meal, and management, in an attempt to save money, has cut back on talent in the kitchen. Now imagine that the restaurant owner gets on some widely listened-to cooking show and says that the variable quality has less to do with anything that exists in reality and more to do with the perception of the customers and their fickle palate. Would you, as a possible patron at this restaurant, imagine it your community-minded duty to support this business? How about if the business owner kept calling you variations on picky and entitled?
Yes, Ottawa fans don’t mindlessly and automatically purchase the maximum number of tickets possible regardless of the performance of the team, especially considering how inaccessible the arena is. Does that suck as a business owner? Sure. Are we less awesome than fans who lose their shit for a team and shell out no matter what? I guess so. Is there any reason why you have to keep going on the radio (usually Toronto radio, at that) and describe your core customers as fickle? Nope. Knock it off.Your franchise’s value has increased fourfold in the last ten years, you have the kind of stability that only two lockouts in that decade can provide, and we ain’t the Florida Panthers. It never plays well when a billionaire calls normal people cheap.
Stop presenting that you bought UFA years on Gryba and Borowiecki as evidence that you’re not a budget team
As far as I understand it Ottawa has been trying to include Gryba in trade packages for like a year and Borowiecki is a replacement level defenceman who’s played few NHL games and put up poor possession numbers when he did. It’s early in both player’s careers and all that, but my point is that neither player should feel particularly secure that they will play in the NHL for years to come, or so secure that they would want to hold on to their UFA years and negotiate for a higher salary a year or two from now. For management to repeatedly point to their decision to lock both of these players up – at a very low amount of money – while playing hard ball with much better defenceman Marc Methot is just weird. It’s also transparently an effort to lock up the only kinds of players that Ottawa can afford, which is to say, not terribly good / expensive ones.
It’s ok to say that Ottawa plans to spend money later. It’s also ok to say that Ottawa doesn’t have the money and doesn’t know when it will. We can take it. Melnyk can’t generate money from thin air and it’s not like he’s going to sell the franchise with all the money to be made over the next decade. There’s a new television deal, both local and national, expansion fees and a league that keeps expanding in value. We can handle business truths. But contorting budget moves as evidence that the team is doing just fine looks pretty bad.
Spend a little less time with the traditional media
Look, nothing against the talented and connected journalists at the Citizen and the Sun, and also the nationals who spill occasional ink on the Sens. They do their job, but that’s exactly what it is: a job. They have to cover every little in and out of the team, turn every minor drama into a major one, push and push the players so that they know nothing is ever good enough. It happens in every Canadian city, and it might be one small reason why no Canadian team can consolidate the kind of talent required to win a Cup. The Sun has two – two! – full time writers who are expected to cover every single little story with microscopic attention. It’s suffocating to read – I can’t imagine what it’s like to live it.
So screw it. Give them the access you’re obligated to give them, but insulate the players from it. Let Pappa MacLean give his post-game press conference. He doesn’t seem too bothered. But spend less time feeding that particular beast, because it’s never full. All it does is alienate players and develop unrealistic expectations among fans.
We promise: we like hockey. We like the Sens. If we’re not there in person, we’re most definitely watching at home, or at a local bar, and buying up jerseys and shirts and building the kind of loyalty to the team with our families that the two nearby original six teams enjoy. We appreciate that you’re doing all of these things to try to enhance the arena experience and get more butts in the seats. The stuff with Red Scarf Union looks cool, as does this multimedia thing you’re trying, whatever that is. We’re up for an experiment or two. But these things are always secondary to the fact that this is a Canadian city that is coming into its own. Anyone who lives here can feel it. It used to be that you turned 20 and moved somewhere else. But we’re only going to keep growing. So stay the course here. It’s only going to get better.
KEEP MELNYK OFF THE RADIO
Pretty self explanatory. If you don’t know what I mean, listen to literally any Melnyk interview from the last three years or so, or as I like to call this period, “one man’s descent into madness.” I’ve given up on him even having a coherent message, let alone agreeing with him. So, absent a PR director, maybe just lead him into a room with a mic that isn’t plugged into anything and let him go. We can keep a secret.