The hockey world is filled with joy and despair today.
True North announced that they have bought the Atlanta Thrashers and will bring “Canada’s Game” home to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Fans in the frozen north are elated to have NHL hockey back after over a decade without. But Thrasher fans are losing their team. Inept ownership and management withstanding, no fan base deserves to lose “their team”
At least Gary Bettman wants you, the money spending puckheads of North America, to think.
Many of which reside in St. Louis and bleed blue for their Blues. One of several other NHL franchises currently in ownership transition. Who absorb today’s news and wonder if a Game Plan LLC doesn’t find a buyer for Dave Checketts and TowerBrook Capital Partners soon, that they will be the next “to not lose their team”.
As the great fantasy writer Robert Jordan wrote, ” The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills and we are only the thread of the Pattern”.
With the inconsistencies in issue handling by the league, specifically comparing Phoenix to Atlanta, there is only hope that should the Note end up on the Wheel of Relocation that ownership groups from Hamilton, Seattle or Saskatchewan are not chosen over league intervention.
If Jordan’s words are taken in one direction, that what will be will be and no mortal soul can prevent it, then a bumpy ride await those who live and die with the 44 year old club. However, threads do not always go where they were intended. One finished product has slight variations from its predecessor and the next to follow will have its quirks.
Bottom line is, there is no stopping the process, but the outcomes can be different with.
What does this mean?
The Blues are not the Coyotes, nor are they the Thrashers. There is tremendous fan support in St. Louis. Whether or not big ticket promotions and fuzzy math are used to create and determine sellouts, there are sellouts. Not just when the big fish come in to the little pond. The Blues sold out all 41 home games this past season. in 2009-10 they were at 98.6 capacity.
Support just isn’t in the seats, its on couches too. In November 2010 they broke a 10 year old record with a 5.6 HH Rating in St. Louis. Their figures throughout the season continued to be the strongest in years. In April the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported as such.
The Blues fizzled again, continuing their long string of malaise. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2004, haven’t won a postseason series since 2002 and were out of realistic Stanley Cup contention for more than a month. They don’t even have a marquee player — no Blue was in the top 38 in scoring in the league.
But still their fans proved to be a resilient bunch, not only turning out in droves for home games but sending the team to its best TV rating ever on cable/satellite.
Also impressive: The rating was fifth-best rating by any U.S.-based NHL team, and the four above them made the playoffs.
According to The Nielsen Co., 3.1 percent of homes in the market tuned in on average to Blues telecasts on Fox Sports Midwest, the second year that outlet has been the sole provider of the team’s local TV coverage. The previous record was 2.9, set in 1995-96 — when the Blues began utilizing cable. Games then were on Prime Sports, FSM’s predecessor.
There is a relative ease of access that certainly helps.
The business end of the Blues is a fairly well run machine. The staff fans are in contact with, primarily sales reps, are very easy to deal with. Combine a solid staff with the glutton of ticket offers and folks are generally willing to buy.
There are no endlessly congested highways leading to long drive times for Blues fans. They aren’t making a hike to Glendale or fighting Atlanta’s infamous traffic. They’re driving relatively efficient interstates and taking the Metro Link light rail system that is designed to funnel commuters in to downtown (from Illinois as well). Mind you it drops off riders right across the street from the Scottrade Center. No long, unsafe walk required.
While Fox Sports Mid West has had its squabbles with a few important Satellite/Cable/Telco providers, the network is on almost everyones basic package and most standard HD packages.
If someone wants to see the Blues its very easy process.
Surely the league loves the support found with a mid market club struggling to make the playoffs. Imagine what could happen if they actually made the second season on a consistent basis. So long as support stays strong there is little chance that the wheel lands near the Thrashers outcome. Just as long as the foot doesn’t come off the gas pedal of fan support.
Blues Sign Berglund to Two Year Deal
According to the Blues official website, stlouisblues.com, Restricted Free Agent Center Patrik Berglund has agreed to a two year contract extension.
The deal appears for an AAV of $2.25 million. Paying $2.1 in 2011-12 and 2.4 million in 2012-13. He will still be a RFA at the conclusion of the contract.
Any speculation on dealing Berglund is now dead. However, talk of trading TJ Oshie will likely heat up. At least among fans and media. Especially if the conversation hasn’t begun by the draft.
In an interesting change of operating procedure, the Blues will make the media conference call available online tomorrow.
Fans will be able to watch Berglund’s media conference call live on Wednesday at noon at stlouisblues.com. Fan questions for Berglund can be submitted by clicking here and may be asked during Wednesday’s conference call.
In three seasons with the Blues the Vesteras, Sweden native has appeared in 228 games. Registering 56 goals and 125 points. Last season he set career highs in Goals (22) and Points (52). In the recently concluded 2011 IIHF World Championships Berglund tallied 8 goals and 10 points in 9 games. A key figure in Sweden’s Silver Medal effort.
About the Author: Bleeding Blue from the IL side of the Mississippi, I've been a Blues fan since I can remember seeing the Blues take on the Oilers at the Arena when I was about 5. All I remember is that Brett Hull scored and I was hooked. Now I cheer on the likes of David Backes and TJ Oshie. It's a great time to be a Blues fan as this team rebuilds itself.