Monday, August 25, 2008

Meet the new owner

The Blue Jackets were, in a lot of ways, late owner John H. McConnell's baby, and when he died in late April, there were some legitimate concerns over just what would happen to the franchise.

Now we know.

McConnell's son, John P., had a good sit down with The Columbus Dispatch for Sunday's paper where he offered a pretty frank assessment of where the team was at:
Q: The ownership group meets next week for a financial update. Do you have those numbers?

A: We have them, sure, but I'm not going to divulge them. The (financial reality) is much deeper than say, if you looked down the road at five more years of this, it's deeper than any of the four (ownership) families are willing to accept. But I believe we've identified a number of things we can do to strengthen that situation, and No. 1 is putting a winning team on the ice and getting people back into the building.
Deeper's a good euphemism for uglier, really, and that is likely to continue until they can start a winning tradition. I caught one game toward the end of the season in Columbus this year, and sat in the best seats in the house for about $80 — although Blue Jackets tickets are about in the midrange on average in the league.

The problem's been that no one's buying lately.

We haven't seen financial figures for the team, but my guess is Columbus lost a significant amount of money last season with a payroll under $40-million, and with that bumped up to the $45-million range for 2008-09, it's going to be awfully difficult to recoup that without some playoff dates.

The good news is that the younger McConnell sounds as if he's ready to make a valiant effort to make the team profitable — and that Jim Balsillie hasn't come calling.


All that said, I think they're headed in the right direction, and Scott Howson's done a decent job given the hand he was dealt. It just might take some patience.



At 2:37 a.m., August 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're going in the right direction only if the definition of "right direction" means "we hope to draft Tavares next spring."

At 8:20 a.m., August 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see the question on that QUITTER Foote? Does this change your mind on whether or not it really did happen that he QUIT?

At 10:39 a.m., August 25, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

It would be a damn shame if Columbus got into trouble. The Blue Jackets and Minnesota were far away the best expansion choices the NHL has made in the last decade or two; both solid markets. The fact that Blue Jackets' fans continually filled the building to watch Doug MacLean's comedy of errors tells you that this is a place the NHL needs to stay.

With any luck, Columbus is a team Balsillie leaves the heck alone.

At 10:49 a.m., August 25, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) We agree that Columbus would be a good NHL city if given a chance. You can't expect to fill a building when you haven't even sniffed a playoff berth in your existence.
2) When the team first started there was a lot of buzz and fans filled the place. If they can right the on-ice product we'll see a sold out arena, which differes from a team like NJ who have had great success and a new arena and still struggle to get to 90% filled.

At 12:38 p.m., August 25, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

My opinion on the Foote situation seems pretty clear to me.

At 12:49 p.m., August 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Playoffs can't be deciding factor if the organisation is surviving. There's 14 teams every season that misses playoffs.

And another eight that can't see the second round.

At 1:00 p.m., August 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Playoffs can't be deciding factor if the organisation is surviving. There's 14 teams every season that misses playoffs.

And another eight that can't see the second round.

Too true. I also can't help wondering how much patience the fans have left. Some mey not be willing to "reset" with the new owner, figuring they have spent enough time watching poor teams already, regardless of ownership.

If the Jackets don't get off to a fast start and start winning right away, how many fans will write off the team for good - or at least until it is too late for the current ownership to survive the financial losses?

At 12:24 a.m., August 26, 2008, Blogger Doogie2K said...

Yes, but the same 14 teams don't fail every year. Just look at the post-lockout NHL: the Oilers went from Game 7 of the Finals to just missing the lottery the next year; Philly went from the Eastern basement to the Eastern final in one year. Turnarounds are possible. They're not easy (especially in Philly's direction), but it's doable, and I think the fans should demand it. It's not fair, but I'd wager Howson's not got a whole lot of time left -- a year, maybe two -- before the fans start getting the knives out.


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