I Like the NHL, But I Live in Kansas City. Please HELP!


Have you recently come down with hockey fever for some reason, but you are unsure about which NHL team to cheer for during the upcoming season?!?!  Well, your ol’ friend Dr. Flubber is here with the remedy.  Over the next couple of days (or week or two) I will be listing the top 5, count ‘em FIVE, NHL teams for the locals to follow this season.  Maybe you will find a favorite team and start a long-lasting relationship, and get married to this team and live happily ever after.  Or not.  It is what you make of it.

There are no predictions.  No previews.  Just a simple way for Kansas Citians to get acclimated to some NHL teams that either have some connection to KC, have unstable ownership/low fan support, or other qualities area residents are used to in their sports viewing.  Basically, a team or franchise that could fit well in the city’s sports landscape.

Of course, this may be all for not since the entire area is full of Penguins fans, as evidenced the other night.  Hey, how about cheering for someone other than the Penguins.*  It will make you interesting at parties and junk.**  The first possible choice after the jump!

*The Penguins, obviously, are not one of the teams.
**Cheering for one of these teams will not necessarily make you interesting at parties.

"Ow, my face." 

YOOUUURRRRR Los Angeles Kings!

Why do I put the Kings here?  Because I like the Kings?  Well, yes.  But that isn’t the only reason.  You know the story.  AEG (run by C. Montgomery Leiweke) owns the Sprint Center and the Los Angeles Kings NHL franchise, thus the Kings have played in the last three NHL preseason games in Kansas City.  The Kings are featured as the home team in the exhibition games, and the commercial advertising the Pens game in KC featured all of their best moments in the past year (or something like that).  

KC, for all intents and purpose, is the Kings home away from their Southern Californian home.  Yes, that may be a stretch, but KC is somewhere they can play with the ownership right there watching them and Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” playing after every goal.  So, that’s cool.  But, are they your team?  Find out below.

Village West Best Potential Award:  Player that brings the most to the team

It would seem to be Anze Kopitar, freshly back from injury that kept him out of the playoffs.  Alas, that is the wrong answer.  Mike Richards is correct, coming over from the Flyers in a trade this offseason.  He fits the 2-way player theme that head coach Terry Murray has been mumbling about for his whole tenure in Los Angeles.

Union Station Biggest Burden Award: Player with least upside and carries a big financial burden (editors note: I like Union Station as a symbol for the city, but, yeah, people have lost money on it in the past.)

Dustin Penner, who has a lot to prove after his disappearing act at the end of the season and in the first round of the playoffs last year.  He is a UFA at the end of the year and is already making $4.25MM this year.  Also, Jarret Stoll may not be worth $3.6MM as a third or fourth line center, but, alas, he is an animal in the faceoff circle and in the shootout.

Eric Hosmer/ 2004 2008 2012 Royals Hope Award: Reason for Optimism

After being terrible and having to start a rebuilding process a season after the fateful lockout, the Kings have made the playoffs the past two years.  This year they appear to have most of the pieces in place, and have a lot of veteran skill guys that can work with the still very young core talent players like Kopitar, Richards, Jack Johnson, and Drew Doughty(?).

Katie Horner Scared-Sh!tless Award:  Reason to Worry

No Drew Doughty yet due to contract negotiations.  He plays the most minutes of any and every game, has missed very limited time due to injury, and pilots the powerplay effectively.  All at the ripe old age of 21.  But, with multiple other guys in the pipeline, the Kings are by no means short on talent.
Wait...what....WHAT????  Forget what I just said!  Doughty be back, baby!

If not Doughty, then the usual coaching errors that seem to plague the team as it has attempted to finish the past two seasons (i.e. poor powerplay, unnecessary line juggling, etc. etc. etc.).  Also, veteran guys who are injury prone (Gagne, Williams, Moreau...)

Buck O’Neil Positive Attitude Award:  Reason to cheer them

AEG (thus, Tim Leiweke) owns the Kings, and we hate Tim Leiweke.  But, like him or not, AEG has given Kansas City an exhibition NHL game three of the past four years, and as long as people keep showing up, that’s the best we are going to get for a while.  Also...

  1. They have been to KC three times in the last four years.
  2. If you are a bandwagon jumper, now is a good time to jump on.  The Kings have many of the right pieces in place that they have been building for the past 4+ years, and they could be a serious contender for the cup this year and in the years to come (this said ignoring my annual f-bomb laced tirades against Terry Murray come February).
  3. They fit the whole royalty motif (Chiefs, Royals, Kings (remember the NBA?), etc.)
  4. If you don't like the jersey, just wait about five years for a new one.
  5. Um...they have quite a few Americans on the team...

Mark Funkhouser Memorial Trophy:  Reason to Hate Them

You hold a personal grudge against AEG and Tim Leiweke or you are an Edmonton Oilers fan for some reason.

Worlds of Fun Ride that Best Describes the Franchise:  Cyclone Sam’s

This team has seldom been the favorite, especially in their recent history.  Only during the Gretzky years were they seen as much of a threat, and even then they only made the Cup Finals once and lost.  The past two seasons they were over-matched by the Canucks and Sharks, respectively, in the playoffs, but played those series hard enough to push them both to six games.  So, like Cyclone Sam’s, which a lot of my friends don’t like but I think is cool, the Kings have a tendency to be overlooked and even disliked for their status as a "non-traditional" market team.  Plus, after that Game 3 loss to the Sharks in the playoffs, my head was spinning so hard it almost popped off in a hurricane of wonderment and awe and anger.

Here we go again!!!

Number of Floating, Disembodied Jack Harry Heads:

Two out of Five

The Kings don’t have a championship to their name (40+ years and counting), so they don’t have any expectations to live up to like the ’70 Chiefs and ’85 Royals, but they have been around long enough to field one of the most starving of fan bases. Like Kansas City’s teams, the Kings have had hope in the past, but always seem to play the underdog.  Unlike Kansas City’s teams, expectation rarely gets the best of them (i.e. 2011 Chiefs, 2004 Royals, to name recent examples).  Playing in the shadow of the Lakers and local collegiate power programs, the Kings are just a part of the shuffle in LA.  But, their ownership group seems to give a crap (as much as you may dislike them).  Jack would probably yell about them as much as he does Sporting KC.  And that’s JACK SMACK!

Next up, another mystery team.  Who will it be?  Stay tuned to find out... 

Kansas City is Abuzz With Hockey-Related News

A day after the EPIC Kings-Pens overtime game that decided the best hockey team in the history of the world (or something), Kansas City has even more hockey news.  Even the KC Star is getting into the act, after the jump of course:

Randy Covitz sat down with Darth Leiweke (and presumedly KC mayor Slyyyy James).  Just a fun little interview talking about Kansas City hockey fans and the thrill of the crowd and all of that fun stuff...right?  Uh, oh no, no no.  Don't say that...

Via the KC Star's Randy Covitz:

“Kansas City can take its time,” said (Tim) Leiweke, whose company manages the Sprint Center, where an announced crowd of 17,779 saw the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in an overtime shootout.“The key is you can chase a team, but you’re going to end up not making a great deal and maybe being disappointed. Or you can wait and not only try to find the right situation, but economically make the right deal.“We’re not chasing, and I love the mayor’s attitude, which is: ‘Under our terms.’ ”

Oh, that's not good.

“Right now there is not an urgency,” Leiweke said. “This building is doing phenomenal. When we began this process, if we would have known this building could stand on its own two feet and be one of the top five buildings (for concerts and family shows) without an anchor tenant, we would have been going around telling people, ‘If there is an anchor tenant that makes sense, we’ll get it, but we don’t need it.’“We’re fine without one, and we probably make more money without one. And the city makes more money without one. That said, if we can make the right deal and find the right team, I definitely think that’s what we have to do here.”
Uh, well, at least no one will freak out too much about this.  Nothing to see here, right?  Please tell me I'm RIGHT!!!!
Via CBS Sports
Via KC Star's Don't Kill the Mellinger
Via Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy
Really, should we be too surprised by Timmy "Living a Lie" Leiweke's statements?  This is the same jargon that anyone and everyone close to AEG has said for the past two years.  Of course, it's good to see some members of the media and blogosphere reacting to such statements, but when does that become blown smoke?  The media can only be angry for so long, but, and I'm sorry to say, the best thing they can do is just keep being angry and mad until that one day the NHL comes to KC for some reason or another.  Is any news good news?  In this case as long as people in Kansas City are talking about hockey (even in a pessimistic light), then I will be happy.  It's unfortunate that everything reported by the media about hockey is usually panning Leiweke (although there is a reason), but as long as they feel slighted, then keep up the talk.  It good to keep the discussion going.  
So, the positivity train lasted about two hours after last night's game until Covitz's article came out online.  Good deal...
But, in other positive hockey news, there are a few special games coming to the area that you should know about if you don't already.
Initially reported by pucKChaser, the NCAA's 2012 Ice Breaker Tournament was formally announced yesterday and is coming to KC's Sprint Center October 12-13 2012.  You can learn more here, but the tourney will feature Nebraska-Omaha, Army, Notre Dame, and historical powerhouse Maine.
Also, if you stuck around after the game last night and watched the Mizzou-Kansas club hockey game, or even if you didn't, you get another opportunity on January 20th, 2012 at the Independence Events Center.  I have been to one of these Border WAR games in the past, and they are damn fun to watch.

Kings vs. Penguins in Perspective, Plus Pictures!!!

Well, if you attended last night’s preseason game at the Sprint Center, you certainly got your money’s worth.  The Kings and Penguins tied 2-2 after regulation and a five-minute overtime, and went eight rounds into the shootout before deciding a winner.  Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen beat Jonathan Bernier in the shootout to seal it 3-2 for the Penguins and sent the KC hockey fans home relatively happy.

Politics, and Tim Leiweke, and struggling downtown businesses, and all of that nonsense aside, this kind of game is what makes Kansas Citians desperate for pro hockey.  

As you can tell by my pictures below, the arena was not totally full.  But, it wasn’t empty either. Of course, bringing in a nationally recognized product like the Pittsburgh Penguins helps.  I would say the Sprint Center sold out about as much as the Scottrade Center in St. Louis “sells out” for a weeknight game, and that’s a good sign for Kansas City/KC region hockey fans.  It does not mean KC will be awarded an expansion franchise tomorrow or the Coyotes players are packing their bags and FedEx-ing their belongings to Overland Park, but it is comforting to know that there are some hockey people in and around this town.  Eh, allow me to explain that better.

I cannot help but shake the fact that this game felt like a midseason game between these two teams.  Of course, the product on the ice did not meet the same criteria, but it just felt like the crowd ebbed and flowed with the game.  They were attentive, but not overly engaged in the action, and the fervor in the crowd built leading up to and during high action events in the game.  The game played to the crowd, as the big moments unfolded from the moment people started shouting to rising out of their seats.  But the crowd was not too excited throughout the game, meaning they didn’t just jump around and lose their minds when someone was checked into the boards or even when post-whistle scuffles broke out.  By the third period, the crowd knew what was on the line and knew that the teams weren’t going to start laying right hooks into each other when the situation did not call for it (although, it should be noted that everyone really wanted to see a fight). 

The atmosphere was good, the crowd seemed to favor the Penguins, but the dual loyalties (or no loyalty to either team) gave the buzz running through the arena a certain calm which allowed the game to be watched and enjoyed.  It didn’t matter who won this game because the fans won by buying a ticket and watching this play out in a familiar home.  Again, no, the product on the ice was not in midseason form, but this type of game is ours, if that makes sense.  This is what Kansas Citians and Nebraskans and Kansans and Iowans and others who travel from not too far get to see.  These exhibition games mean something to us, and it’s great to see it play out in front of a (semi) packed house in the middle of where many of us work and call home.  Neither of these teams are our team that plays in our house, but it’s a sport we all love played in our house, and even for one night that’s pretty cool.

Now I want MOAR!!!

A retrospective of the game in grainy pictures below (click for bigger picture):
Game during the first period.  During a "two minute media timeout!"

Dustin Penner: Look how big he is!

Getting ready to faceoff

Your logo here

Bernier warming up before the 2nd period

Start of the second period

Click on this for a better view, but this is my attempt to show the whole arena and what is labeled a "sell out."  The patching of the panorama function on my camera is not too great, but you get the idea.  And, wow, that came out a lot darker than I thought it should.  Damn.  Taken during the second period. 

Long shot of the arena

Bailey, the Kings mascot.  Sadly, no Air Bailey for this game.

More Bailey and Zambonis

The final score.  Penguins 3, Kings 2 OT/SO

Bonus!  Mizzou-Kansas Shootout Game.  Here is Mizzou in their generic hockey/baseball jerseys.

Kansas in their less generic jerseys.  This game had very little structure, but these teams are fun to watch.
Hey, what was up with those trivia questions during the second intermission?  I mean, what the hell?

Shoot over to my YouTube page for some videos of the game.

Penguins Expected Lineup...? (UPDATED, full roster after the jump)

No definite roster that I can find yet.  But, we can infer a bunch!

Per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Bylsma suggested the exhibition game Tuesday against Los Angeles at Kansas City would likely feature a final audition for on-the-bubble players to win consideration for a roster spot. He said there would "probably be two" rounds of cuts before selection of the season-opening roster and that weekend games at Chicago and Detroit would be used to determine line combinations for regulars. The Penguins expect to make another round of cuts Thursday.
Also, according to that same article, no Brooks Orpik still sidelined due to offseason abdominal surgery.
No Crosby either, but possibly Jordan Staal will play.

“I’m kind of excited to see a new arena and a new city,” said Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal. “It’s very cool. To hear that it is going to be sold out makes for a pretty impressive sign for a team.” 
Here were the Penguins line combos and practice groups on Monday.

Second Practice Group:

4 Zbynek Michalek7 Paul Martin9 Pascal Dupuis10 Mark Letestu15 Dustin Jeffrey18 James Neal19 Jason Williams23 Ryan Craig24 Matt Cooke26 Steve Sullivan28 Nick Johnson29 Marc-Andre Fleury 30 Scott Munroe58 Kris Letang70 Joseph Morrow71 Evgeni Malkin87 Sidney Crosby 

So, let's go through and see what we do know.  Bylsma wants to play bubble guys, but he also will throw in a few vets just so he doesn't send an AHL team up against a predominantly NHL roster (although it didn't seem to hurt him last year...).  Personally, I believe all of the guys in the line pairings above travel.  So, the team needs at least three more forwards, one more defenseman, and two goalies.  Already we can say that Malkin probably won't go, Crosby definitely will not, Williams apparently has some kind of injury, I would be really surprised to see Fleury.  The goalies will probably be Brad Thiessen and Brent Johnson, just cuz son.  Matt Cooke will more than likely be held back because he is Matt Cooke.  I would not be surprised to see Paul Martin and 2011 first round pick Joseph Morrow just as throw in players, but I would have to imagine either Letang or Martin make the trip.  Forward-wise, maybe Dupuis or Letestu just for a veteran touch.  Nor would I be surprised to see Steve Sullivan either, just to see what he has left in the tank.  Maybe Dustin Jeffery or Nick Johnson as the final choice.

I don't know, though, what do you think?

The next page has the Penguins lineup.  How well did I guess?  Probably not well...

Via, the source of all sources, Rich Hammond at LA Kings Insider (of all places):

10-Mark Letestu; 11-Jordan Staal; 12-Richard Park; 14-Chris Kunitz; 18-James Neal; 25-Eric Tangradi; 27-Craig Adams; 28-Nick Johnson; 33-Steve MacIntyre; 46-Joe Vitale; 48-Tyler Kennedy; 71-Evgeni Malkin.
2-Matt Niskanen; 5-Deryk Engelland; 6-Ben Lovejoy; 7-Paul Martin; 37-Brian Strait; 70-Joseph Morrow; 78-Scott Harrington.
29-Marc-Andre Fleury; 39-Brad Thiessen

Yeah, not great, but HOLY CRAP MALKIN AND FIRST ROUND PICK JOE MORROW ARE COMING!!!  Well, garsh, they do like us...

For those of you who bought tickets, consider yourselves lucky. 

Kings Expected Lineup

From LA Kings Insider:




No Kopitar on that list, but still Richards, Penner, Brown, Williams, Stoll, Clifford, etc. etc.  The only players that may not make the team in some capacity are Trent Hunter, Dwight King, and Jordan Nolan (although he may have a shot after all).  Arguably, Voynov (depending on Doughty) and Lokti may start in Manchester, but this is a solid crew.  Plus, both of the goalies!

NHL Game is Sold Out

Kansas City Star:
The Sprint Center has announced that Tuesday night’s NHL preseason game between the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins is a sellout. A limited number of standing-room-only tickets will be made available starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The standing-room tickets can be purchased for $11 at sprintcenter.com, at the Sprint Center box office or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Seating capacity for hockey at the Sprint Center is 17,544, and the game will set an attendance mark for 2011 NHL preseason games played at neutral site, non-NHL venues in North America.
I looking forward to seeing the 17,543 of you fine folks out there tomorrow!

NHL Preseason Game This Tuesday

*Card is subject to change
Come one, come all to the annual NHL Preseason game at the Sprint Center!

Who: Los Angeles Kings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
When: 7:00pm, Tuesday, September 27th
What:  NHL hockey, of course.
Why: AEG controls the Sprint Center and owns the Kings, and the Penguins used the Sprint Center as leverage to get a new arena in Pittsburgh.
How is it significant: Uh...it's really not.  But, it's hockey, and that's cool, right?

Obviously, as anyone who follows the NHL already knows, exciting young defenseman Drew Doughty will not be at the game due to contract negotiation issues.  Also, exciting (young!) forward Sidney Crosby is just beginning to hit the ice hard in the preseason, so he will not get have a working vacation to the Paris of the Plains.  Jim Fox, Los Angeles's television color commentator, asked after the 2010 Olympics why Crosby doesn't just retire.  At the age of 24, he already claims a gold medal (which he clinched) and a Stanley Cup finals victory, along with various other rewards.  But, you will have to go elsewhere to see him, Kansas Citians.

You can check out the Kings previous exhibition lineups courtesy of Rich Hammond over at LA Kings Insider here and here.  Divine what you will from the information given.  The Kings play the Avalanche in Denver on Wednesday night, so they may bring a semi-legit lineup and play them again the next night, or they may not.  Your guess is as good as mine.

Meanwhile, the Penguins preseason lineups (herehere and here) all seem to have their fair share of NHLers.  Malkin has played, along with Staal and a few other notables.  It's important to note that all of their games have been at home, so they could mix and match how they wanted.  Again, there is nothing saying that the big names won't make the trip, but nothing saying they will either.  The Pens play again on Friday.

I will be attending the game and hopefully will have a write up and some photos for you on Wednesday.

Hopefully the updated rosters come out tomorrow.

Buy tickets here.

2012 Champions: Mavericks Agree to Affiliation

If only...
Meanwhile, in 'Hey that's pretty cool news,' the Missouri Mavericks have signed on to be an affiliate for the AHL's Chicago Wolves, the (AAA) affiliate of the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks.  If you want the whole details and history of the former Blades rival, click here.

Of course, the Blades were the affiliate of the Canucks before ceasing operations, but, ya know, this is different...

In other news, and I know I said the goaltender review is next, but the Mavericks have added MORE forwards.

General Manager Brent Thiessen has plundered the failing Elite Ice Hockey League (UK) team the Newcastle Vipers signing Latvia native Toms Hartmanis and Albertan Dale Mahovsky.  Neither can be considered a power forward nor are they scoring threats.  You can read the stats in the press release, but  even at the age of 23, Hartmanis brings a lot of high level experience to the team.  He played in the UK's top league for a season and the KHL for seven games.  He was also a part of the Latvian national U18 and U20 national teams.  Hockeydb claims he is a left wing, so there you go.  Mahovsky is listed as a right wing, and has a lot of professional and collegiate experience as well.  They are both listed around 6 foot 185-ish pounds (where have I heard that before...).

Meanwhile, in a post I will get to later, forward Mike Berry returns.  He had 57 points in 66 games, and was a +10 in his only season with the Mavs.  Oddly enough, he played for the Newcastle Vipers in 2009-10...
That leaves the Mavs with fifteen forwards on the roster currently.

Line scenario time!  Look, I know that line pairings in the CHL are tenuous at best, but it's fun to pretend, right?  RIGHT?  Validate this somehow, Coach Hillman!!!

Thinel-McGrane-Berry                 <---That will be an awesome line!
Hartmanis/Cooper-Pallardy-Dias  <-----Hartmanis and Cooper, if it happens, could be a battle.
Hogg-Coccimiglio-Lewis             <----Starring Coccimiglio as Bugs Bunny

Bench/Press Box:

Also, here is a list and brief explanation of each of the Canucks draft picks this year.

Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager announced today that the Canucks have selected forward Nicklas Jensen, goaltender David Honzik, right wing Alexandre Grenier, centre Joseph Labate, defenceman Nicklas Blomstrand, defenceman Frank Corrado, centre Pathrik Westerholm and Henrik Tommernas in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Jensen, 18, was selected 29th overall in the 2011 Entry Draft. He spent the 2010-11 season with the Oshawa Generals, collecting 58 points (29-29-58) points in 61 games played. In his first year in the OHL, he ranked fourth on the team in scoring and fifth in the OHL among rookies. Jensen tied for the team lead in goals (7) during the 2011 playoffs.
Honzik, 17, was picked in the third round, 71st overall in the 2011 Entry Draft. The Tabor, Czech Republic native spent the 2010-11 season with Victoriaville in the QMJHL. He posted a goals against average of 3.54 and record of 17-12-0-1.
Grenier, 19, was selected in the third round, 90th overall. The Laval, Quebec native appeared in 31 games for the Quebec Remparts in 2010-11, collecting 24 points (9-15-24). He also recorded 16 points (8-8-16) in 15 playoff games.
Labate, 18, was picked in the fourth round, 101st overall. In 2010-11, the Burnsville, Minnesota native collected 49 points (27-22-49) in 25 games for the Holy Angels and was a finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award. He has committed to the University of Wisconsin for the fall of 2011.
Blomstrand, 18, was selected in the fourth round, 120th overall. The Uppsala, Sweden native registered seven points (3-4-7) in 35 points for Djurgarden Jr. in 2010-11.
Corrado, 18, was picked 150th overall in the fifth round. The Toronto, Ontario native played for Sudbury of the OHL in 2010-11, recording 30 points (4-26-30) in 67 games.
Westerholm, 19, was selected 180th overall in the sixth round. The Karlskrona, Sweden native spent the 2010-11 season with Malmo Redhawks, collecting 21 points (8-13-21) in 34 games.
Tommernas, 20, appeared in 47 games, collecting 20 (3-17-20) for Frolunda in 2010-11. He was selected in the seventh round, 210th overall.

Who may or may not see time at the AHL or CHL level this year.  Let's assume all of the guys playing for Canadian minor league clubs stay there.  That leaves C Labate, D Blomstrand, C Westerholm, and C Tommernas, although none of those players are on the Canucks prospect camp roster.  As of now, these players are also not on the Wolves roster.  The Mavs could certainly have a Scandinavian feel to them this year, provided these players are playing in North America this year.

Tragedy in the KHL

Everyone knows what happened by now, and if you don't read this.  Just a really heavy story in a crappy otherwise NHL/hockey offseason.

Some local connections in the accident include Pavol Demitra, NHL journeyman and St. Louis Blues player from 1996-2004, and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl assistant coach Igor Korolev who played 147 games with the Blues from 1992-1994.  Both were lost in the crash.

Please follow Russian-American hockey journalist Dmitry Chesnokov on Twitter for ALL of the latest updates.  He is doing an awesome job during this difficult time.

Comparing the Big XII's and NHL's Impact on Downtown Kansas City

I don't want this to devolve into a discussion on college athletics on a hockey blog, and all of the hearsay and rumors and nonsense that changes almost daily, but I know it will.  So, just bear with me.

Just as a general common sense thing, let's list the top sports revenue things in KC in no particular order:
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Sporting Kansas City FC Wizards etc. etc.
4. Big XII Conference events
5. NASCAR/racing

One of those things occurs in downtown Kansas City occasionally.  Can you guess which one?

Continue for the answer.

As many of you already know, the Big XII conference is again at a crossroads, with someone holding their hand over the self-destruct button and getting closer to pushing it than last year at this time.  Let's just say, for argument's sake, that the button is pushed this time.  Texas A&M goes to the Southeastern Conference and Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Texas Tech bolt for the Pac-12 (or whatever) and leave five 'orphaned' (that's a good word, appropriate word being tossed around) universities in a state of flux.  Let's.  Just.  Assume.

As of now, the media has Oliver Twist (Missouri) and his four brothers (Baylor, Kansas, K-State, and Iowa State) all going to the Big East, or some of them going to the Big East, or some of them going to the Big Ten, or Missouri going to the SEC, or randomly more going to the Pac-##, or joining the Mountain West, etc. etc.  The best scenario for Kansas City, of course, would be for the Big 12 to remain a conference.  But, again, let's assume it won't be a conference by this time next month.

Dating back to the days of the Big 8, Kansas City has been the sports hub of local major college sports.  The dawning of the Texas infused Big 12 in 1996 saw brought a football championship game.  Kansas City and Arrowhead Stadium have the distinction of holding the event the most times (5) in its fifteen year history.  Of course, since the opening of Jerry Jones' Super Intergalactic Fun Time Stadium and Putt-Putt, the game was to be held in Dallas from 2009-2013, almost assuring Kansas City would never see the game again.  Fine.

In 1997, the Big XII men's and women's basketball tournament was brought to Kansas City, where they have been nine times and KC will play host again this year.  First, the men's found a home in Kemper Arena, but moved to the Sprint Center after its completion.  The women's has always been played in Municipal Auditorium, just down the street from the Sprint Center today.  So, everything works out for Kansas City, right?  The football championship can be played where football thrives, while the basketball championship can be held in the home of the College Basketball Hall of Fame.  There in lies the rub.

As Blair Kerkhoff so eloquently put it in his KC Star article, the men's and women's basketball tournaments "have an economic impact of $14 million."  So, what's the problem, you ask?  Well, what conference will make Kansas City home without any historic foothold in the area?

Let's assume some more.

Assume, Missouri and Kansas or any variety of the five remaining schools go to the Big Ten.  The conference is already in new territory with the addition of Nebraska as the farthest west school.  Adding a Missouri and/or Kansas would expand it farther west, but that does not necessarily mean the influence will go that way as well.  With Ohio State and Michigan in the east, the big money conference championships seem to hover in that area.  Indianapolis and Chicago have been the only hosts to the basketball tournament, and Indianapolis will host the first Big Ten football championship.  If any city gets any influence, it would almost assuredly be towards the middle in St. Louis.  No championships for KC.

So, assume Missouri and the rest of the gang end up in the Big East.  The Big East basketball tournament has been held in Madison Square Garden forever, so it will be in KC sometime never.  The newly created football championship needs a home, and maybe the Big East would be willing to give the honors to the other side of the conference.  But, remember, Jerry Jones now does not have a championship game in his stadium, and with the addition of Texas' TCU and Baylor (maybe), Kansas City has an outsiders chance to land that game.

So, the SEC?  The football championship will forever be in the dome in Georgia.  But, the basketball tournament could fit nicely in KC with the addition of Missouri AND Kansas (although not likely).  Though, this tournament also seems to spend a lot of time in Atlanta also.

The newly formed Mountain West-Big XII hybrid conference, with members like Boise State, Nevada, Colorado State and so forth.  The basketball tournament could find a home here.  I originally thought that  attendance numbers would drag, but last year's championship game saw 18500 people, while the third overall game saw almost 15000 for New Mexico and Colorado State (the first two games attendance are missing, though).  This appears to be the best opportunity so far, although the football side of things would seriously take a hit in an inferior conference (sorry Boise State, but it's true).

Sooooo, that brings me to my main reason for writing (no, no, as much as I like to play the NCAA czar and pick fantasy conferences, that is not my point).  The football games are almost irrelevant, because only basketball will find a home downtown and in the Sprint Center.  Go back to the top list.  Taking the information we already know, and crossing off #4, none of those events take place downtown.  Taking away an estimated $14 million from local merchants that ALREADY are not making what they were promised makes the Power and Light District a ghost town on cold nights in March.  That is taking away four days of events and almost ten-plus events (I will be eagerly awaiting what the bracket looks like for this year).  And that does not even include the women's tournament down the street.  Without the forty-one-plus games of an NHL tenant, the forty-one-plus games of an NBA tenant, or the comfort of having nearly twenty-plus local college basketball games in the arena, what happens to the surrounding areas?  We are talking major sports, sports that bring in money.  KC becomes a two sport town with colleges nearby, instead of being able to rely on the old adage of "at least we get a conference championship."

Those days may be running out as the clock ticks on the Big XII.  Once that reality sets in with the media here in Kansas City (and not just wedged into a conference realignment article), they will lash out at AEG, Tim Leiweke, and Kansas City sport and government officials in an uncontrollable race to find a scapegoat.  There is no scapegoat at that point, as the city loses out on precious economic monies to place toward other funds.  Downtown merchants cannot take solace in knowing the once every week or three or four times a month the Sprint Center will have an event that will primarily bring in locals from a 200 mile radius.  At this point, it would be unwise to predict the economic stability of the country as a whole a year from now, but the $14 million dollars for one decently sized basketball tournament exists to remind people how much more business could be brought downtown with at least forty more events (i.e. and NHL or even AHL team, as pucKChaser suggests).

But let's finish on an optimistic tone.

The city will not struggle, either way, as the 2012 MLB All-Star game at Kauffman Stadium looks to make a fair bit of coin, but the city's urban redevelopment project seems to be striving closer and closer to look like post-1980s Kemper Arena and the West Bottoms.  

That's about as optimistic as I get on this topic at this point.  The next post will have more hockey in it, I promise.

Headline pic via