Question: After more than four years of trying, what is Kansas City’s outlook for landing its own NHL team?

"I don't know"
--Luc Robitaille, current president and former player of the Los Angeles Kings.  AEG writes his checks.

Awesome.  Not a very encouraging Q&A by Randy Covitz on the KC Star's site today.  That line pretty much sums it up, although it's obvious Covitz was looking for more of an answer out of Luc.  KC needs an owner, it's hard to move NHL teams (but it's not--/laughing), KC needs to support the arena, yada, yada, yada.  The problem is no one has "stepped up royally" and we should all just deal with it.  It's the same old talk, but I am not sure what Covitz was looking to get out of the president of the Kings.  He knows hockey operations, he is not in on the day-to-day of AEG and Tim Leiweke.  Yes, he was in charge of finding a team for the building back in 2006-07, but he is far removed from any business dealings with KC.  His team is coming for a preseason game because the ownership group and a bunch of other people thought it was a decent idea from a marketing standpoint.  Oh, and it is.  Find a decent sized market with no rooting interest and saturate the market.  This will be the third Kings preseason game in KC.  The St. Louis Blues have played in four, they are closer, they appear on local TV occasionally, but they are by no means the Missouri's team.

Covitz asked decent questions, but he asked them to the wrong guy.  Robitaille can only answer based on trends he has seen around the league and hearsay that may or may not be true about Leiweke's motivation to bring a team to the city.  Take it for what it is; a piece by the media to show they are still looking out for the city's interests.  Also, that Luc cannot truthfully answer these questions even if he did have all of the answers.

But, he said this on the topic of tickets sold for the preseason game, which I do not believe.

"We have over 10,000 tickets sold. … We expect to sell out the game. We expect nothing (less). We expect people to come to the game and make this building alive …”

10,000 tickets?  Really?  It has to be corporate or group seats.

But I can't stay mad at him...

“I don’t think you’re being used. You have the best option. Look at North America. Is there another arena that is better than (the Sprint Center)? A city better than this? You have the best options. It’s really hard to move a team. The (New York) Islanders still have to figure out to do their deal … their lease is up in 2015. If that doesn’t happen, what city will take the burden to build a new arena and take the risks they did here? There’s a reason every concert wants to come here.”

Gasp!  Lucky loves us!  *swoon*

Now watch him hit some dingers!

2012 Champions: The Mavericks Quest for the Cup Starts With Scoring

The Missouri Mavericks will win the Central Hockey League Championship this year.  No, they will.  Why?  Because they have bought all of the good players.  No, no, it's not what you're thinking.  It's not like the Yankees, Heat, or Eagles.  No, how childish of you.  But, yeah, it's totally kind of like that almost.  That's just what the good teams do.  Have good players that win games.

Jump to see how this will happen.

Having recently won the CHL's franchise of the year in 2010-11, the Mavericks are looking to add the Ray Miron President's Cup to their growing trophy case.  Now, it's easy to say that the team has been to the playoffs both of their years of existence, but we all know that's not really that impressive.  But, the Mavericks are looking to make it count this year by adding a little offense.

First, they signed forward Ed McGrane, recently off of a stint in Sweden.  McGrane joins the team with 512 points in 440 career games (1.16pts per game).  As the press release states, the biggest plus for McGrane is that he "played four full seasons with the CHL’s Colorado Eagles where he averaged 1.33 points per game and finished in the top ten in the CHL in scoring every season he was with the Eagles...(he) led the entire CHL with 44 goals during the 2009-10 season, his last season in the CHL."  He played in three championship series, winning the cup once.  He has also spent time in the ECHL and AHL.  Since losing 2010-11 point leader Nick Sirota and Todd Griffith who scored 25 points in 24 games, McGrane should be able to fill the role of a top six forward nicely.  Although there has no mention of last season's leading scorer Mike Berry resigning with the team, McGrane has the experience needed.  Plus, 45 goals in a season is more than 27 last time I checked.

But, it may not matter because they also signed last season's CHL leading scorer Sebastien (Sea Bass) Thinel.  He only had 110 points (35-75=110) last year, so, yeah.  He is also a CHL vet, spending all nine of his professional seasons with the now Junior A Odessa Jackalopes, acting as the captain last season.  "(He) has eclipsed 90 points in each of his last three seasons and has a total of 647 points ( 235-412=647) in 502 games played in the CHL...Thinel is a six-time CHL All-Star and two-time winner of the Joe Burton Award as the league’s scoring champion. He was awarded the CHL’s Most Valuable Player Award following the 2008-09 season when he led the league with 97 points and tied for the league lead with 38 goals."  So, he will probably help improve the 12th ranked powerplay (of 18 teams).  Odessa had the 5th best, scoring 19 more goals than the Mavericks.  He could fit well with McGrane, and with assist leaders Sirota and Toby LaFrance gone and a question mark respectively, maybe the two newbies will be forced to gel together.

Along with the announcement of Thinel's signing, the Mavs picked up former Calgary Flames fourth round pick Kris Hogg.  Only 25, he spent five years in the WHL, scoring 69 points (30-39=70) in his final season, and four years playing at Lakeland University.  He has lofty penalty minute totals (which could be a reason for his NHL demise), 495 minutes in the WHL, but at 5-11 180lbs, he will have to find a place in the top six, or maybe act as an energy guy on the third line.  Maybe the Chester the Terrier to Carlyle Lewis's Spike the Bulldog.

The Mavs add even more top sixers to the lineup with the signing of one familiar face and three new guys.  Derek Pallardy returns, and despite having his best pro season last year, may get shuffled to the bottom six depending on who returns.  But, at +13, he is a valuable source to have on a penalty kill that was ranked 2nd last year.  He won't take an obscene amount of penalties, an example of the depth and discipline of this team.  Plus, he knows coach Scott Hillman's system and knows the IEC ice well.

23 year old Matt Dias also joins the team straight from the Italian League where he averaged a goal per game.  A scorer first, he had 21 goals in 22 games in Italy, and was 90-88-178 during a four season, 258 game stint in the OHL.  At 5-11 195lbs, he fits a similar mold of guys recently joining the team to provide goal scoring.  As Hillman says, "We have been pursuing him for a few seasons and are very happy to have him joining the Mavericks,” which makes it appear he will fill multiple roles on the team.  Definitely look for him on the powerplay, definitely look for him in the top six in some way.

And finally, the Mavs also grabbed 5'11, 185lbs (!) Lachlan MacIntosh and 6-3 214 pound John-Scott (J.S.?) Dickinson who played together at the University of New Brunswick and won three CIS Championships.  MacIntosh, a points guy, went 38-57=95 while in school and 112-115-227 in 156 games in Tier II.  Maybe a top six, but with so much depth, he may get pushed to a very effective third line.  Dickinson has played at the AHL and ECHL levels.  He doesn't score much, but he will provide the size and physical presence Lewis already desperately provides...

The top nine could look something like this:

Lewis-Hogg-Nathan O'Nabigon/Dickinson

So, with a new look top six (potentially) this team can provide a little skill to go with the aggressive play of guys like Lewis, Cole Ruwe, and Mike Wakita.  Also, it's important to note that all defenders were positive in the plus/minus column except Dominic D'Amour who was -1 and is no longer on the team.  Take that!   Five have yet to be resigned, though.  Buy your season tickets now if you want to see the first Kansas City-area pro sports championship since the KC Sporting Wizards won in 2000.  Remember that?  No?  Oh.

Next up, a post on the goaltending situation that will only get better when they sign Michael Leighton or something ridiculous.

Oh, So This Is Why KC Sports Fans Hate Tim Leiweke...

Much of the fallout from the Islanders' failed arena plan has focused on what happens next (read: where will the Islanders go now)?  The Village Voice in New York tackles this question, citing a 2009 article in KC's Pitch.

From the Voice:

Kansas City has a new arena, but as our K.C. sister publication the Pitch revealed, it's not likely to throw a sweetheart lease deal at a hockey team. That's because AEG, the management company that runs the publicly owned Sprint Center, would have to give up "a very sizable chunk of the arena revenues" to lure an NHL (or NBA) club, K.C. budget director Troy Schulte told the Pitch, making a full year of concerts sound great by comparison.

Despite the age of the article, it is still relevant today.  Why in 2011, when the Sprint Center has established itself as a profitable arena, would AEG offer a Penguins-esque offer circa 2007 to an NHL team.  Then, the arena was just a NEW arena with HOPES of getting a tenant of some sort.  What many sports fans in Kansas City are slowly beginning to realize is that AEG isn't just going to lure a team out of the goodness of their heart anymore.  It's all business, baby!  

Leiweke doesn't owe us anything, but in our eyes he does.  Look at Mellinger's articles.  To his credit, he speaks as a KC sports fan.  He also wants to cover another team (job security), but it's also easy to root for him to expose AEG for its KC lethargy.  I must kind of agree with Chris Suellentrop's poor assessment of Kansas City that even he disagrees with, but KC does have a step-child mentality, a history of striving to be the 'big' city while denying much of what still holds it back from that distinction in the eyes of the rest of the USA (i.e. "Cow Town," even though the city was built from the stockyards out).  We're cultured ("Sophisticated-- God, we're sophisticated!") folks here in the Midwest, but the biggest putdown from outsiders is that we're a bunch of slack jawed farmers...and for some reason we hate to be seen as inferior (ed. note: in my experience farmers are good people, so no putdown here).  So, AEG's want to make the most money in this instance is seen by Kansas Citians as KC being too small of a market (thus, inferior to say...Columbus, Nashville, or St. Louis).  Instead, AEG is just happy to make the money they are making from an arena that maybe, just possibly was not supposed to make this much money off of concerts.  And the bitch of the whole thing; Kansas Citians deep down assumed it wouldn't be this profitable, but they still want a team.  Concerts don't put you on the map (or make you a 'travel destination' which is a term going around a lot these days), sports do.

This doesn't absolve Leiweke for his failed promises and a lack of effort to bring a team, but it certainly explains the city sports fans' growing impatience with anything new to report about an NHL or NBA team looking at the Sprint Center since about 2008.  KC is a good place, maybe not a 'hockey town' (yet), but its downtown business owners should be getting a better story from those that control the entertainment that comes to their district.  No, AEG does not owe them anything, but someone deserves an explanation, dag nabbit.

Jump for the 2009 Pitch article.

Here is the post for the Pitch, lest we all forget (or it gets erased or whatever):

I also mentioned a blog post by Field of Schemes author Neil deMause, who tracks public money being spent for professional sports franchises. In clarifying the $1.8 million in profits that AEG was kicking back to the city, deMause wrote that the money was "operational profit -- in other words, it doesn't count the cost of paying for the building it in the first place."
Understanding the funding for the Sprint Center can be confusing. For a refresher, I called Shani Tate, communications director for the Sprint Center. She walked me through the basics:
The building cost $276 million. AEG put up $54 million in cash. The NABC put up $10 million. The city is financing the rest through taxes on hotel rooms and rental cars. And the city is taking is taking in more from the hotel/rental car tax than expected.
DeMause guessed the city was paying between $10-$15 million a year in arena bond payments, adding "there's almost no way it [the city] will actually turn a profit on building the Sprint Center."
His guess was close.
"We pay an annual debt service projected this year of about $13.8 million," said Troy Schulte, Kansas City's budget director.
Schulte says the hotel and car rental fees have "exceeded projections over the last couple years every year." For example, last year the city projected $8.9 million in arena fees. They actually received $9.3 million. As far as the $1.8 million operating profit, Schulte says that comes after AEG takes its 16 percent cut and then the city and AEG split the money going forward.
"As long as that continues to generate activity like it has been, it'll be profitable for AEG to operate," Shculte says.
Schulte knows that it'll be tougher as the building loses its shine and if the economy doesn't improve. And should AEG finally find an anchor tenant, that sports franchise would take "a very sizable chunk of the arena revenues."
"Obviously an anchor tenant would have an effect as far as pulling down the available revenues because a lot of those revenues would then go to an anchor tenant," Schulte says.
Right now, it's more profitable for the Kansas City and AEG to book concerts. But as the newness wears off, the stability of having 41 guaranteed dates a year will become more and more important.

Jarret Stoll and Bailey Make Kansas City Cool

Los Angeles Kings center (centre) Jarret Stoll and Kings' mascot Bailey was in town recently to pump the upcoming exhibition game.  He also offered Kansas Citians a chance to beat the heat and buy tickets to skate on the Sprint Center ice, which also gave them tickets to the preseason game.  It was a decent idea and hopefully many people took advantage of the opportunity.  Plus, tickets for the game are not really moving at the moment.  I invite you to mock-purchase some tickets and see what's available, because there are A LOT of good seats still available.

NBC 41 Action News Video

KC Star photo gallery (better look at it while it still exists...)

Air Bailey super link, for your enjoyment

No Crosby At Sprint Center? Yeah, Probably...

If you have followed any of the Big XII/ Texas A&M/ SEC rumors, then you know rumors are just rumors.  Well, here is one from the NHL.  Via Puck Daddy via Josh Rimer (producer for XM NHL Home Ice apparently), Sidney Crosby may not be ready to go by the start of the season.  Which, also means he won't be able to go for the exhibition game at the Sprint Center against the Los Angeles Kings on September 27th.  Will this affect ticket sales?  Probably, as people like NHL21's Paul McGannon were banking on Crosby being there and Kansas Citians basking in his glory (this happened, but KC Star archives suck, so no link).  Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will have an update on Monday, but either way, it does not appear that Sid will be good to go for KC.  Maybe that's a cynical point of view, but let's look at history.  The past two exhibition games have featured no Anze Kopitar, no John Taveras, and I'm pretty sure Tkachuk or Kariya missed out.  So, no Crosby makes sense, but now he may have a more severe excuse.

The 'Nos' Have It: Long Island Residents Reject New Arena Plan

Just forget you know what this looks like

According to reports on Long Island, voters rejected a referendum to borrow $400 million to build a new arena for the New York Islanders and build a minor baseball stadium.  The future of the Islanders is now in the air, as this was probably the last ploy by owner Charles Wang to keep the team on Long Island.  The team's lease in the rustic Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum runs out in 2015.

This means Kansas City's chances of getting a hockey team in the short-term remain on life support.  The Islanders uncertainty stems further than just the need for a new arena and lack of support in their current location, but also the New York area's ability to support three NHL franchises.  Of course, KC is a long shot, but another NHL franchise may be mobile unless Wang sells the team or he starts building an arena brick by brick in a field somewhere.

In the meantime, KC's focus should not be fully on landing an NHL team.  As KC hockey blogger pucKChaser says, grow the game in the area through a grassroots movement and youth involvement.  Quit closing local rinks, because that's just silly.