Archive for May, 2009

30
May
09

Fallout

This is far from over and it seems that the entire situation will get uglier before it all finally clears up. Since the initial news broke that the Blue Jackets were lobbying for a Sin Tax to help Franklin County take over Nationwide Arena, there has been a large amount of negative attention for the franchise. Yesterday Portzline gave a breakdown of the situation as told by CBJ President Mike Priest:

— After making a modest profit in their first two seasons, the Blue Jackets have lost money every season since, including more than $10 million this season when they made the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time. I asked Priest if the club would make money late in the season, and he said no. I asked if they’d make money if they went deep into the playoffs, and he said no. The Jackets would not have made money, Priest said, if the Blue Jackets made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. In other words, $10 million may be the low end of what they’re claiming for losses.

— Priest said the Blue Jackets would be in good financial standing if they got this part of their business model rearranged. “I spent the first year on the job trying to get our club headed in the right direction, in terms of hiring the right people to give us a winning product on the ice,” said Priest, whose first big hire was GM Scott Howson. “Ever since then, my focus has been on getting the rest of our financial picture in order. If we’re able to have a building that generates money for us like most clubs in the NHL, we’ll be in decent shape. We’ll have good seasons or bad seasons based upon how our club performs, and that’s how it should be. That’s all you can ask for.”

Pretty scary to read some of that. I cannot say the loss of money is a huge surprise given the team’s woeful performance on the ice prior to this season. The goodwill garnered by the Jackets when they first arrived was quickly destroyed by delusions of grandeur from one former GM Doug Maclean. Porty goes on to explain the proposed tax itself:

— If the “sin tax” goes through, it’ll cost 28 cents more for a 12-pack of beer, 6.4 cents more for a bottle of wine, 60 cents more for a fifth of hard liquor and 4.5 cents more for a package of smokes within the limits of Franklin County. It does not have to be approved by voters.

Puck-rakers

Frankly, to keep my team in place this is a small price to pay. If these facts and figures are true, I would vote for the “sin tax” although I’m certain I’d still be in the minority. That’s what the issue really comes down to, pushing the new tax through without voter approval, which could be done. In 2009 when we are in the midst of an economic slow down, when the government on all levels is threatening to cut services is many vital areas lest they get a tax increase, the climate is any thing but conducive to helping the CBJ get a new lease.

Today Bob Hunter, Dispatch sports columnist, echoes many of the same thoughts and proposes that we take a look at the bigger picture of what could happen if the team were to leave town:

Team officials say the Blue Jackets have lost $80 million the past seven years and that their lease with Nationwide Arena is a big cause of that. Are we really prepared to let this continue and eventually see the team move to Kansas City? And if it did, what kind of economic impact would that have on the city? How would it affect restaurants, hotels, bars, stores, etc., and those who work there? What would happen to the Arena District if the arena didn’t have a major tenant?

Those aren’t pleasant questions, and they aren’t about hockey. This is a problem that has to be solved.

Plan needs considered

Hunter is looking at the big picture and seems relatively to feel the same way that I do about this mess. I think that the Jackets need to tread lightly because this could destroy a lot of the positivity that surrounded the team after finally making the playoffs this season.

More to come…

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28
May
09

Nationwide for sale (updated)

Out of nowhere Jackets fans get sucker-punched with this doozy today:

The Columbus Blue Jackets are leading discussions about the possible sale of Nationwide Arena to Franklin County, using higher taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to help fund the deal.

Preliminary talks have been held between Blue Jackets and Franklin County officials, state legislators and Nationwide Insurance executives over helping the National Hockey League club solve its economic problems, Columbus Business First has learned. One option under discussion calls for the county to buy the 18,000-seat arena from Nationwide so the team can work toward getting a better lease.

The article broke today from Columbus Business First, it goes on with this:

Priest was asked if the Blue Jackets would consider leaving Columbus if the arena issue is not resolved.

“The very reason we are being so proactive,” he said, “is to avoid having to deal with that question and issue. I believe as a community we have the ability to find a solution.”

Nationwide has participated in discussions on “public-private opportunities” for the Blue Jackets, including a sale of the arena, said Eric Hardgrove, a spokesman for the Columbus-based insurer.

“We are not actively looking to sell the arena,” he said. “It is one of the many options under consideration to help ensure the Blue Jackets remain a strong, viable presence here for years to come.”

Here’s the link to the full article… Business First

I’m not sure what to think at this point other than to just take a breath, sit back, and let all the facts come to surface before forming an opinion. Off the cuff? I’m completely opposed to a state tax on things that are already over-taxed, but it would be nice to see something that guarantees the Blue Jackets stability in Columbus. I also believe that the franchise owners need to give more time and consideration to the future of the franchise and a building that could and should be selling out much more frequently in the near future…

What are your thoughts?

UPDATE

Official statement from team President, Mike Priest:

“The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the process of seeking a solution for a structural problem in the economic model that was created over a decade ago to ensure the construction of Nationwide Arena and the procurement of a NHL team for Columbus. This is an issue for us because we manage and operate the team as well as the building. Because the building was financed and constructed privately, there are certain revenue streams typically available to teams that are not available to the Blue Jackets.

As an organization, we have incurred substantial losses over the past several years, of which a significant portion is related to arena operations under the current structure. It is a building financial problem that has become a team financial problem. If we fix the building problem, we fix the team problem.

To that end, we have been working with Nationwide over the past several months to come up with a solution. They understand the issue and stand ready to be a significant part of the solution. During that time, we also began discussing the problem with the NHL, State, County and City officials.

We want to work with the community to come up with a resolution and have provided ideas to the public sector similar to how Cleveland handled their sports facility issues a number of years ago. We have asked the general assembly to provide a tool in the toolkit for our local governments to consider.

Our priority is to secure the long-term financial viability of the Blue Jackets because we believe it is important to our fans and to the economic health of our community.”

Link to BlueJackets.com and the statement… more to come for sure

12
May
09

Little Bit of Blue

Not that there isn’t enough going in the NHL right now to keep a blog full of stuff, it’s just that much of it doesn’t pertain to the Blue Jackets. Today some CBJ news finally broke including the theoretically infinite extension of GM Scott Howson’s contract:

cbj gm scott howson

Howson has an “evergreen” contract, similar to the deal MacLean struck one season before he was fired as president and general manager. What is an “evergreen” contract? I’ll try to put it in sportswriter’s parlance so us non-legal types don’t get a headache.

If, with one year left on the “evergreen” contract, neither side exercises or verablizes their desire to get out of the contract at the contract’s end, the contract adds an additional two years. In other words, if neither president Mike Priest or Howson express to the other by next summer that they want out, Howson’s deal will extend to 2012-13.

If, with one year left on the “evergreen” contract, one side says they want out, or they want to negotiate a new deal, etc., the contract term will expire one year later.

Puck-rakers

Considering I never knew these existed, its nice to know that ownership has as much faith in GMSH as the coaching staff and fans do. Howson has made a ton of great moves, typically very subtle moves, but the franchise has made great strides in a very short time, and as Porty has said on many occasions, the hard part awaits…

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FSN Ohio announced yesterday that they will be airing a special on the 2008-2009 Blue Jackets Season. The special premieres on Wednesday, May 20 at approximately 10:00pm, immediately following the Reds-Phillies steroid shoot ’em up. Click here for the complete schedule.

IIHF_Hydra

This little bit courtesy of On the Forecheck… the IIHF announced a bit of rule changes to prevent teams from poaching as well as bailing on contracts (see Alexandr Svitov and Alexander Radulov):

In an explicit reaction to last summer’s Alexander Radulov case, the I.I.H.F. announced that contract jumpers would be banned from playing for a four- to six-month period. Offending players would also be banned from international competition for one to three years, and offending clubs would be banned from the transfer market for 3 to 24 months.

A national federation that failed to stop a club from luring a player under contract in another country would face a $4,500 to $13,500 fine for each game the contract-jumper played with his new club.

It doesn’t have a lot of baring on what the Blue Jackets have been doing for the last couple seasons, but it could always become an issue should someone like Maxim Mayorov or Nikita Filatov decide they are better served heading back to the motherland.

I’m going to do my best to increase the frequency of posts as school is winding down for me and I’d like to keep regular updates coming throughout the off-season… Carry the Flag!

06
May
09

Bidin’ My Time

Okay, first some Blue Jackets news. The biggest story out of Columbus is the non-renewal of TV Color Analyst Danny Gare….

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Another goodbye, to a great guy, thankfully this isn’t as hard as the last one…

Danny always was able to provide us with some funny/awkward moments during his time here. Here’s a little gem, where as usual, he seems out of breath or under some other duress:

The next bit of news is a bit brighter, Rick Nash has been selected as a finalist for the NHL Foundation Award along with the Kings’ Dustin Brown, and Kovalev of the Canadiens. The Foundation Award is the recognition of the player’s commitment and service to charities in their communities. Here’s the write-up on Nash from NHL.com:

Rick NashColumbus Blue Jackets — Nash is not only the Blue Jackets scoring leader, he’s also their captain and a leader in community relations. Nash has supported a wide range of Columbus-area charities.

Nash established the #61 Club to encourage students to make healthy choices and rewards those who do with tickets to Blue Jackets games. He donated $100,000 to The Ohio State University Athletics Department to endow a scholarship for a student-athlete and contributed $25,000 as a founding donor to the John H. McConnell Scholarship Fund, in memory of the team’s founder and majority owner.

He has contributed $15,000 annually for the past four years to Santa’s Silent Helpers, which helps families with children, single mothers and the elderly in Central Ohio who are experiencing financial difficulties. 

When the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets competed in the 2009 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, Nash contributed $5,000 to help with family travel expenses.

Nash developed “Rick Bands,” which come in red for dedication, blue for believe and silver for character, and donates proceeds from their sale to the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation to fight pediatric cancer, and to support education and children’s healthy and safety. 

Nash is the spokesman for several Blue Jackets’ charitable initiatives, including the Columbus Dispatch Newspapers in Education program; the Jackets for Jackets program that collected 1,200 winter coats, and the Time Warner Cable Adult Literacy Campaign.

Around the NHL there is obviously a lot going on for the teams still in the playoffs. Unless you’ve been living in a hole, Ovechkin won the opening rounds of the Capitals showdown with Crosby’s Penguins, but tonight the Pens get a chance to put their first win of the series on the board in Pittsburgh.

The Red Wings fell on the road last night at Anaheim, but not without a little controversy. The Wings failed to tie the game in the waning minutes of the 3rd period because of an early whistle that caused a goal to not count… tough luck guys, no pity from this direction.

Also in the west the Canucks stole a victory on the road to take a 2-1 series lead over the Blackhawks while Carolina comes home to take on Boston in game 3 of their series.

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Finally there are some big rumblings around the Phoenix Coyotes. News broke last night that co-CEO of Blackberry Jim Balsillie offered $212.5 million for the team and also breaking was that the ‘Yotes were filing for Chapter 11. The original thought was that the Bankruptcy Court could help regulate who would get to purchase the team but now news is breaking that the NHL is going to ask for the Chapter 11 filing to be thrown out… Puck Daddy (Wysh) and From the Rink (Mirtle) have been all over it, check out their latest posts on the topic:

Puck Daddy

From the Rink

02
May
09

A moment of silence

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Former Blue Jackets defeseman Ryan Salmons lost his fight with cancer yesterday at the age of 19 at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Aaron Portzline and Tom Reed take the lead:

Brad Salmons described a scene of how Chimera and Malhotra would help move Ryan around his bed in order to find a comfortable sitting position. Ryan was in great pain over the final 48 hours, his father said, and the players did all they could to relieve it.

“They have gone above and beyond through this entire ordeal,” his father said.

Howson said the actions of his players would have pleased the franchise’s late patriarch, John H. McConnell.

“Part of the reason Mr. Mac brought a team here was to reach out to the community and help people,” Howson said. “They have lived up to Mr. Mac’s goals.”

Not only is it disappointing to lose Ryan, but it should make everyone feel good down deep in their heart the class that this organization has. Here are the links with stories about Ryan and the Blue Jackets:

Blue Jackets mourn Ryan Salmons – NHL.com

Fan who inspired Jackets dies of cancer – Dispatch.com

Ryan Michael Salmons, May 1, 2009 – Ryan’s Fight

Ryan Salmons 1989-2009 – BlueJackets.com

Please take a moment soon to think about the Salmons family and send a prayer their way. We all know that Ryan and Mr. Mac will enjoy watching many Blue Jackets games together for years to come.




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