4/5/08

Islander Fans determine the plan

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/05/2008 02:49:00 PM
I have done no blogs this year about tickets and I made it clear during camp I would not do ticket promotion ads on this blog. The Islanders have to do the business side for themselves and to me have done a solid job with a lot of creative promotions with virtually no media or television support behind it.

I also will tell you hockey tickets are very expensive and I'm not telling anyone who simply cannot afford it to spend money you do not have before you continue reading.

This is not just an Islander issue, we have seen the problems in Boston, Manhattan, Chicago, St Louis where there have been a lot of empty seats for several years, New Jersey has been a model organization and had crowds of eight thousand last year and do not fill the Prudential Center.

Outside of Canada you could pick virtually any US market in it's history and we could talk about empty seats sooner or later. When the Isles were a dynasty Detroit had to give away automobiles to get anyone to attend games in the eighties, everyone
knows the Red Wings could not even fill the building in the semi-finals and play before many empty seats today.

Having written that the Islanders can have a plan and talk about the prospects and taking the pains to develop them but the fans and how we vote with our wallets ultimately determines the direction sooner or later.

This is not a new story for the current management but the only true remaining story from the nineties to talk about.

We all know the history.
Isles needed to get fans coming to the games after Charles Wang's ownership finished 30th his first season after losing seven years in a row because he had to prove his ownership was different from the people before him.

Back in 2001 no one knew what Mr Wang would do in terms of spending or if he would go the extra mile to get a franchise player on a long-term deal.

We all know what happened. Isles gave up prospects/draft picks for players that got the club winning short term and brought a lot of people to the building that sold out more than half the schedule in 2002. No one was complaining on opening night against Detroit, no one complained through the playoffs against Toronto when the building was rocking.

I know it's fashionable for some fans to claim we would still have Luongo, Chara, Bertuzzi, Jokinen, Connolly in a cap league for fifteen years and they would all have won four more cups here for New York at two million but to be honest our fans did not come out and support these players when they were developing so the Isles found players who you would come to games for.

And for the short-term it worked.

Once again we seem to be back at the same crossroads but this time with an owner who has an established record who will try and spend money to improve his club and quietly has spent more on veteran free agents the last two summer than at any point in the clubs history. We know Garth Snow will not have it easy signing prime unrestricted talent as no team does. Front-loaded contracts, corporate ownerships, veterans stars on other teams closer to winning all play into it as apparently does the building the club plays in.

Bottom line the fans once again ultimately determine the direction and how long a club can be patient with it's prospects.

The Isles can be more patient if we are patient and support the prospects by purchasing tickets but sooner or later if you do not support the direction the Isles will again have to find players that will make you attend games because you want a winning team now.

A team cannot survive with the lowest attendance in the league building with prospects because you will not spend your money until they start winning, it simply does not work like that. Prospect built teams fail too, one look at Florida should tell you all you need to know.

Montreal can take a few losing years as they develop prospects, same for
some other markets in this league but that's mostly in Canada. You can bet the Leaf fans are not going to stop going if it means three years of losing to get some young franchise talents, but the management always feels the pressure to win now and in the end we have seen the result.

Bottom line if you cannot be patient and support what management is doing with these kids by purchasing tickets because you want a winner now and will not spend your money until they do start winning, the Isles at some point will look at the bottom line (as all teams do) and make a deal involving quality prospects so they can make a marginal improvement short-term so you start attending games.

I also more than understand the lack of patience after fifteen years without winning a playoff series and your frustration. That I think was Garth Snow's reason for taking what he considered his most expendable prospects and trading for Ryan Smyth, he had a sixth ranked team and wanted a run at a Stanley Cup.

Once again, I am not writing anyone who cannot afford a ticket to spend money you do not have.

What I am is writing what the bottom line is and that for the fans you are once again at the crossroads here and will decide the direction.

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