Lots of good Flames golf jokes on Twitter this week, and even more fan outrage, most of it directed at Eric Francis.
Now, in nearly all situations, vitriol directed at Eric Francis isn’t exactly something to be frowned upon. He’s a regular Gloomy Gus about this team (not that he shouldn’t be these days) and as such says a lot of things Flames fans do not like to hear about their team.
And so, when he ripped into them for skipping the team’s annual charity golf tournament, the first thought many had was that he simply made it up. He even conceded that, as far as the players were concerned, they had a very good excuse to not go to the golf tournament: A last-ditch effort to save the league from yet another lockout (brought on in no small part by Murray Edwards, let’s not forget). That’s a noble cause for hockey fans everywhere. Not as noble, say, as the Flames Foundation For Life, which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for Calgary charities annually, but noble enough in the players’ eyes. One that can at least be seen as reasonable.
The response was devoid of reason. Granted, the Flames had committed to the event, and thus not attending in an effort to save their jobs for a few months (or more) was them going back on their word. In a sport in which ethics seem to play so large a part — every story ever is about what great guys Hockey Players are because That’s How They Were Raised — going back on your word, especially if it was your word to raise money for a charitable organization, is borderline unforgivable.
This however, did not prevent Flames fans from lashing out at Francis, despite the fact that Ken King confirmed in a team-issued press release that the players wouldn’t be in attendance just hours after the story first broke.
And then the Flames backed off their decision to sit out the tournament. Those players who were traveling to New York still did so, and those who remained behind in Calgary said "Okay we’ll be there," which I guess should have been the plan all along. After all, though Edwards is one of the most repugnant owners in the league, he is eclipsed by Philadelphia’s Ed Snider, for whom Scott Hartnell and other Flyers players appeared at an eponymous charity’s golf tournament earlier this week.
Let’s be perfectly clear about all of this: No one went to this golf tournament hoping to see Matt Stajan, but at the end of the day, a whole lot of money was raised for a very good cause and all it took was a front page story on the local fishwrap controversy-specializing newspaper to get that to happen. Oh well.
2. Arena deals and greedy idiots
Yesterday, two seperate bits of news shook out with relation to arena agreements in two very different hockey markets. And yet, they involve people asking for more than what they’ve already agreed upon simply as a means of a cash grab.
The first was in Edmonton, where they’re so desperate to get a new rink and downtown center built that the city was ready to cut owner Darryl Katz a $125 million check, and charge its residents (and visitors, one supposes) a "ticket tax" of $6-7 per seat to fund another $125 million. Katz himself is only putting up $100 million of his money, and the other $100 million is, they hope, being paid for by the province.
But despite the fact that Katz is ponying up just about 22.2 percent of the money needed for his rink, he apparently felt compelled to go to the Edmonton City Council with his pockets turned out and a cup with some spare change and pencils rattling around in it. He was promptly told to take a hike, as he should have been.
The nerve of a guy worth $2 billion (according to Wikipedia) to demand more money from the taxpayers who support his team to begin with, and essentially hold the city’s beloved squad ransom, because its City Council refused to give him EVEN MORE than the 77.8 percent already coming to him in taxpayer dollarsm, us stunning. But given that we’re dealing with an NHL owner in a city making a decent amount of money, maybe we start need to look at crying poor as par for the course.
Of course, when you mention teams making a decent amount of money, franchise No. 3,174,142 that comes to mind is the Phoenix Coyotes. And there, it’s not the owners asking for too much money, because of course there is no owner. Instead, the Glendale City Council, bastion of responsibility, decided that its agreement with Greg Jamison wasn’t quite good enough.
The result? They are trying to amend their agreed-upon deal to pay Jamison’s shadowy ownership group $72 million over the first five years of what was supposed to be a 20-year, $300 million contract. That money, by the way, was to be paid to Jamison’s group to operate the arena.
As discussed above, I am firmly of the belief that not giving rich people taxpayer money is a good thing, especially in a city facing a $35 million budget gap this year. Nonetheless, it is paying a hell of a lot of money already to keep the ownerless team. Therefore, since you’re trying to get someone to take it off your hands, it’s probably a good idea to NOT try to blow up the deal with the only semi-serious suitor in half a decade right on the launchpad.
But hey, I’m not a city council member or rich person, so what do I know?
3. Good news, Flames fans
We all know by now that we’re not getting a full 82-game season. But that might actually help the Flames out and allow them to achieve their goal of Going For It.
On Goal Analysis recently did, well, some analysis and determined who, since the end of the lockout, would be most likely to make the playoffs through a 50-game season. And wouldn’t you know it, hey, Calgary squeaks into the playoffs on that metric, finishing sixth with an average of 58.1429 points in those first 50 games. For the record, that’s a pace for 95.35 points over an 82-game season, which is typically good for about eighth.
But I know what you were going so say: At some point since the lockout, the Flames were actually good. Throw those results out the window, they’re being skewed upward by the good times. Well that’s what I thought too, but no! In the past THREE seasons, Calgary has averaged an even 58 points through 50 games, also good for sixth in the West. I couldn’t believe it either.
So, Flames fans, maybe you want to actually start rooting for a 50-game season.
4. Visnovsky to the Islanders
This has been the undercover best story of the offseason. Basically the timeline goes like this:
a) Lubomir Visnovsky and his $5.6 million cap hit are traded to the New York Islanders by the Anaheim Ducks for a second-round pick.
b) Rumors of Visnovsky, who believed he had a no-trade clause, being discontented with the trade and refusing to report to Long Island begin to surface.
c) New York News Day writer Arthur Staple does an interview with Visnovsky, who is all like, "Yeah I don’t know where all that stuff came from, I’m happy to go to the Islanders."
d) Visnovsky files complaint over trade in an effort to block it from taking place.
e) Arbitrator tells Visnovsky his no-trade wasn’t in effect so have fun in Nassau.
f) Visnovsky cries, probably.
It was awesome.
5. Help me out with a good cause…
I don’t ask you guys for much (except, I guess, to put up with me on a weekly basis), but in this case, I’m going to do it.
I’ve been helping out at a tutoring/writing center here in my home city of Boston for about seven months now and, like all nonprofits, it relies heavily on the support of outside parties to continue operating. Every year they do what is called a Write-A-Thon, and participants write things in exchange for donations.
That’s where you come in. I’m going to try to write something about hockey every day between now and Oct. 12 (when the event ends) at my personal site, which is where you can also get more info about this whole situation. But the important distinction is that there will be no CBA talk whatsoever. None. I refuse.
If you’d like to donate — and again, it’s a really great cause that helps foster a joy of writing in kids from grade school to high school — you can do so by clicking here. My goal is to raise $500 in US dollars, and I hope you can help me out with that.
For more information on 826 Boston, visit their site. Again, super-cool and awesome organization.
Thanks for sitting through this part.