Sunday, October 21, 2012

Moving Matches

The unfortunate fact that there will be no NHL dates filling the calendars at area arenas anytime soon shouldn't stand in the way of there being hockey played there. All three of the metro franchises have AHL affiliates nearby, affiliates that they own. So once the NHL season is officially scrubbed, why don't they relocate a few minor league games to the major league ice?

It is certainly not like the minor league teams are exactly packing them in in their minor league towns either. The average attendance over 38 home games last season for all three was under 5,000. It would be easy to make any Islander joke right here, but restraint is a virtue. Plus, their AHL side actually had the highest attendance of the three - the Sound Tigers filled 4,875 seats out of the 10,000 at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, good for 20th in the league. In Hartford the Whale's attendance ranked 23rd they had 4,573 out of the XL Center's 16,294 seats filled. The little Devils, well, they were dead last in the AHL. Albany's Times Union Center received an average of 3,435 (out of a possible 14,236).

For the Islanders and the Devils, there is very little standing in the way of hosting AHL games in their NHL arenas - both have done it before. The Rangers would have a more difficult time, with MSG being a union shop and thus a far more expensive endeavor. But let's face it, the Blueshirts can easily cover the tab and they should want to show off the latest stage of renovations.

Hell, all three should do it and make the games free for season ticket holders (of both the NHL and AHL clubs) and sell the rest of the tickets off for charity. They would still collect considerable concessions and would keep their product on the market - something valuable in today's current A.D.D. society with it's plethora of entertainment options.

So which games should go? Weekend games are the lifeblood of minor league life so let's look past those. Another criteria for the kid league is rivalry games, as bigger crowds congregate when there is a little hate involved. So what selections are left?

For Hartford (with affiliate franchise and key players in parentheses):
Wednesday, December 12th v. Worchester (Sharks - where Tim Kennedy ended up)
Wednesday, January 23rd v. Adirondack (Flyers - Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn)
Tuesday, February 5th v. Albany 
Wednesday, February 20th v. St. Johns (Jets - Alex Burmistrov and Carl Klingberg)
Tuesday, March 5th v. Portland (Coyotes - Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Andy Miele and Chad Dos Nueve, who is now wearing #30 actually)
Thursday, March 28th v. Worchester

For Bridgeport:
Wednesday, December 19th v. Albany - Forget the Coliseum, hell, the franchises owe the Barclays Center an exhibition game and the Brooklyn arena just happens to be empty that night ...
Tuesday, January 8th v. Hershey (Caps - our pal Braden Holtby in net)
Tuesday, February 12th v. Springfield (BJs - Tim Erixon and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault)
Tuesday, March 12th v. Springfield

And for Albany? Pretty much any game of theirs can go, last place in the league and all. They outright scheduled four of the Sunday games in Atlantic City, so that leaves 34 others that can be welcomed to the Rock and similarly ignored by New Jersey hockey fans.

If the owners do truly care about their public image, moving some matches would go a ways towards alleviating the hatred. And, certainly, free tickets for those matches would go even further ... but let's not get too crazy here - ownership's greed is why there are empty arenas in the first place. Let's drop the puck already!


riplevon83 said...

I find it very nearly pointless if there is no deal done to save any of this current season for myself at least to give the NHL one more red cent of my money. This is two work stoppages in eight years and the third under Bettman's tyrannical reign. Enough is enough...I wasn't anywhere near as perturbed by the 2004 lockout as I am this one, but this is all a product of the short-sightedness that Bettman employs making business decisions...Blame his lack of acumen when deciding to foist the NHL upon non traditional markets (see Phoenix/Glendale, Atlanta and Columbus, and to a lesser extent Sunrise and Denver) where people give less than a crap about hockey and expecting there not to be any revenue issues...I'll digress at this point, because frankly I'm not enamored with Donald Fehr either, the bumbling buffoon who was at the center of the MLB work stoppage and subsequent cancellation of the World Series in the 1994-95 season...the difference here is that more people in this country actually give a crap about baseball...putting a traditionally Canadian sport into markets already inundated with more appealing sports interests to the population is just stupid. so that being guys can spend your waking hours desperately trying to fix or appease your puck for me I cannot fathom any real reason for getting up obscenely early in the morning to watch a broadcast of a hockey game whose commentary I cannot even begin to decipher just to catch a glimpse of overpaid current Russian NHLers or players not good enough to play in the NHL...I cannot allow hockey to consume my life (as it has in the past) even as much as I love it...when you close your mind to the outside world, to those who care about you, when your relationships are severely affected by your obsession, it isn't healthy for you or those who care about you, and maybe this NHL stoppage is just what some of us need actually, to focus more on our lives outside of the haze of a hockey obsession.

Scotty Hockey said...

If that works for you, so be it and best wishes. But do not presume to know what is healthy and what isn't. Obsessing over a sport is quite preferential to many other options available in the world today, that is for sure.

And Denver is a strong market that features NCAA, CHL and NHL, they do not deserve inclusion on any list with Phoenix, Atlanta and Columbus.

riplevon83 said...

I'm not "presuming" anything. I'm speaking from experience. I've been watching hockey since I learned to crawl, and in my teens my hockey obsession controlled my life. As any competent psychotherapist will inform you, obsession of any kind is most certainly unhealthy, regardless of what measure of justification you employ to lessen the blow, an obsession is not good for your psyche and sometimes puts you inside a box. You'll ultimately elect to do whatever you want anyway, I'm simply expressing my opinion, just as you do. As to my inclusion of Denver on this list, yes the market in Denver is strong, but mostly just when the Avs are contending. I suppose I'm still just a little bitter about their relocation from Quebec City, so my opinion is somewhat biased. Other markets though that are not drawing the revenue unless their teams are at the least decent enough to contend for a playoff spot have caused a great deal of this. I do have to give you Ranger fans one thing...regardless of how they are playing, you support them in droves, and I do appreciate that degree of loyalty.