Monday, July 7, 2008

Burnside on Hockey Markets

I strongly urge all of you to take a gander at the Falconer's excellent rebuttal to Scottie Burnside's recent column about the cap. Of course, before you read the Falconer's deconstruction you might want to read Doc. Burnside himself. 

I agree 100% with the Falconer's post, but allow me some fisking of my own. 

The doctor begins:

We must admit we find all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the media and fans over the amount of money spent during the first days of free agency a bit confusing.

You have to love Doc. Burnside's non-ironic use of the royal "we." It confers such authority on everything he types.

He proceeds to talk about how the exorbitant amounts of money thrown around this past week are a direct result of the salary cap that the owners and GMs of the NHL wanted. If they don't like some of the trades and signings of late, they can go fuck themselves, says Doc. Burnside.

From there our good doctor begins to salivate over the prospect of the cap system ending the lives of several NHL teams. Doc. Burnside is a sober, hard-headed realist: he believes that if an NHL team isn't performing well, it needs to fold:

Wouldn't it be ironic if the very fantasy of many hockey fans and observers, the constriction of the NHL's 30 franchises, came about as a direct result of the very system that was supposed to ensure the health of all 30 franchises?

League officials have quietly said the beauty of the cap is it creates a "survival of the fittest" environment. They were talking about the on-ice product, suggesting that with a narrow gap between what teams must spend to reach the floor ($40.7 million this coming season) and the ceiling ($56.7 million), only the best hockey people will succeed. But survival of the fittest might also extend to franchises themselves. If teams can't cut it, even with revenue sharing and cost certainty in place, they should be gone. Simple as that. Shut the doors and say good night, Irene.

Oooooh, Scott, we love it when you talk tough. Of course, Burnside doesn't really mean a word he says, or that's what I'm led to believe from his column. The examples of badly-run teams he lists are Atlanta, Florida, and Toronto. No question about how badly-run those teams currently are. But our doctor curiously shifts gears in the next few lines:

Can't hack it in South Florida? See ya.

That tough talk again, Scottie! 

Made a hash of it in Atlanta? See y'all later.

He uses the common Southern slang term "y'all" because Atlanta is, like, in the South. Get it dude? Funny, right?

Fans won't turn out in Phoenix? Put that cactus in a box and catch you later.

What the fuck does this even mean? "Put that cactus in a box and catch you later" doesn't even make sense on the level of metaphor. I suppose it has something to do with Phoenix being in the sort-of desert. Have any of you, readers, ever seen someone put a cactus in a box? Is this a common practice in Arizona? 

But that's all beside the point. When I read Doc. Burnside's death sentences I notice that Toronto (one of his trinity of horribly-run teams) has magically transformed into Phoenix. If Scottie thinks badly-run teams should be bought out of existence, why has he neglected to include a cutting, snarky line like "Out of muffins at the Tim Horton's in Toronto, eh? Well, I'm afraid you're required by Section 23A of the NHL Code to dissolve your franchise."?

Because that would be, like, snarky. 

Does Scottie think it's time we give up on the under-performing Toronto Maple Leafs? By his ruthless and realistic logic, we should. Not only are they disastrously run, but they haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967. What a horrible team! Let's get rid of them.

But wait...of course Scottie doesn't want to dissolve the Toronto Maple Leafs and relocate them to...where, exactly? Quebec City? 

Why? Legendary and much-loved hockey institution, you say? Some things more important than "markets" and money, you say? Don't tell me you're one of those wet blanket crybabies that wants to give the Leafs a chance! After all, they're horribly run...

I can't improve on the Falconer's central points, so I'll shamelessly duplicate a few of them here:
1) Cities like Atlanta and Miami would fill plenty of seats if their teams were actually good. 
2) There are quality NHL teams that flourish in smaller NHL markets like Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, and Edmonton. 
3) Give us a chance, you resentful asshole. 

To be fair, I do think it's a bit weird that there are only six Canadian hockey teams. I think it'd be a fine thing if the NHL expanded to five more markets: Winnipeg, Quebec City, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas. Or replace one of those with San Antonio. Or with Portland or Seattle, even. 

The more the merrier, I say. If Canadians are this upset about not having more Canada-based franchises, why don't they follow the best traditions of Canadian democracy and lobby their federal and provincial governments to subsidize new franchises in Winnipeg and Quebec? I suspect Scottie Burnside, given his Augusto Pinochet logic as applied to evil teams in evil sunny places like Atlanta and Miami and Phoenix (does Tampa Bay count?), wouldn't be sympathetic to this. 

Which is no surprise, really, since he sees the sport of hockey as something to do with numbers and markets and not as the humanistic expression of endurance, strength, and athletic creativity that it is. Allow the evil Southern American teams some time to develop, eh? 

You dickhead. 


Tiffany said...

Re #2: I don't like Falconer and won't read him, but did that dipship really say Edmonton is a small hockey market? I knew he was smoking crack.

Otherwise, LMAO. You rule.

Big Shooter said...

Perhaps Scott Burnside would feel differently if he had a horse in the game...

Mortimer Peacock said...

Maali- I think the Falconer means that even though Edmonton is a hockey-mad city, it's a relatively small city with not a ton of people to go round. Atlanta and Miami have much, much bigger populations. But of course Edmonton is sold out almost every game.

The point, I think, is that Burnside can't seem to make up his mind as whether a hockey team should be eliminated because it's a small city, an underperforming team, bad management, or a non-traditional market that isn't generating interest. He's very confused.

FrenchCatalogues said...

Edmonton maybe small, but they sell out pretty much every game. Everyone in the city loves the team. It's a small city, but it is so dense with hockey love.

I just don't get this contempt and hostility to our team these days. It's like we poured sugar in their gas tank.

Big Shooter said...

Might have been in the same article, but I read the Oil have sold out every game but 1 since the lockout. They have only made the playoffs once since the lockout...