SBD/August 14, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Though a deal has not been completed yet, "no hang-ups were expected" in 76ers Majority Owner Josh Harris' attempt to buy the Devils and "finally bring an end to the Devils ownership saga," according to a front-page piece by Tom Gulitti of the Bergen RECORD. A source said that the "only thing holding up the completion of the sale was the approval of the NHL’s Board of Governors, which is expected to complete its vote" by tomorrow. Another source said that current Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek will "retain a minority ownership share and continue to be involved with the team." Prudential Center also will "continue to be the Devils’ home after the completion of the expected sale to Harris’ group." Although the Devils have "struggled at times at the gate, season-ticket sales have increased steadily, and they enjoyed their best season in terms of attendance" in '12-13, averaging 17,114 for their 24 home dates (Bergen RECORD, 8/14).
THE OLD GUARD: In Newark, Steve Politi writes Harris should let Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello "do his job." All indications are that Harris "will let Lamoriello run the team for a 27th straight year." Politi: "How many GMs in sports history have worked for four ownership groups? ... Imagine the backlash if losing a Hall of Fame builder was his introduction to the fan base." Harris will "do the smart thing and let Lamoriello do his thing." But can Harris "make a difference?" His net worth "alone is a good place to start." Harris should "assure fans, from his first day on the job, that the Devils are here to stay in New Jersey." It is "quite likely that Harris wants the arena, ranked the eighth-highest grossing in the world." Given the financial "uncertainty that’s swirled around the Devils, it’s hard not to see this as a positive development for the Devils, as long as Harris keeps his wallet open and, when it comes to all decisions related to hockey, his mouth shut" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/14). SI.com's Stu Hackel wrote the Devils will have "abundant resources at their disposal and lots of brainpower for using them," and they are "going to need all of it to solve the problems that have long plagued the franchise." The Devils have "not been able to sustain a fan base that can fill its arena night after night, year after year, regardless of how well the team plays." They have "only sporadically been a 'hot ticket.'" Hackel wondered if the new ownership group will "replace Lamoriello and look for an advanced-stats approach as it has done with the Sixers." That would be "revolutionary, although trying to project what the group might do is, of course, entirely speculative." But it "might want to make other changes." Harris and his partners are "going to change what they think are the obstacles" to filling Prudential Center. It is the "only way this franchise can get back on its feet" (SI.com, 8/13).
Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tim Leiweke said that Maple Leafs home games "could have a different feel in the future," as the team's recent trend of pregame ceremonies celebrating past achievements "doesn't coincide with the culture Leiweke says he is trying to create in Toronto," according to Mike Johnston of SPORTSNET.ca. Speaking with Toronto's CJCL-AM yesterday, Leiweke said, "I don't think what motivates [Maple Leafs LW] Joffrey Lupul is another celebration on the ice, while he sits on the bench, celebrating 50 years ago and something that happened in 1962 or 1963." While Leiweke did not say he would do away completely with nostalgic pregame ceremonies, he suggested that "things will be different going forward." Leiweke: "At some point we have to find a balance of turning around to these guys and saying, 'Let's build our own history here, let's build our own championship run, let's put it on your shoulders, let's make this about you and what you can accomplish, and let's not hide behind that great, brilliant history of the Maple Leafs.'" He added, "Let's embrace it, let's honour it, but let's start right now that we all want to put on our shoulders the responsibility, the risk, the obligation that we want to win Stanley Cups, we want to build a new championship regime and we don't want to hide or make excuses" (SPORTSNET.ca, 8/13).
The Lions' new tagline, "One Detroit, One Pride," had "been in the works for a while" ahead of the city filing for bankruptcy last month, according to Tom Walsh of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Lions President Tom Lewand said that the tagline "wasn’t suddenly 'grown from seed right after the bankruptcy filing,' but 'there was a strong feeling on our part that we needed to pull that idea ahead, instead of waiting for training camp or the regular season to roll that out.'" Lewand explained that the tagline -- and the Lions' community activites and fan engagement efforts -- will "get much more visible in the coming months." The Lions since the tagline first appeared last month have "used it during public days at the team’s Allen Park training camp and will soon be deploying it in a multipronged effort to support economic development projects, along with health and wellness initiatives around the city." One "high-profile effort under way now is the Lions’ partnership with Hatch Detroit to boost retail storefront development in six Detroit neighborhoods." The Lions sometime this year also may "partner with Henry Ford Health System in a 50-50 raffle during games, becoming the first NFL team to conduct such a raffle electronically." Other initiatives "focusing on community engagement include embracing Detroit and Michigan brands by selling Slow’s Bar B Q and Zingerman’s Deli products, along with local craft beers, at Ford Field." The organization "is clearly using" the tagline to "rally not only football fans, but also the region’s citizenry" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/14).
Rams Exec VP/Football Operations & COO Kevin Demoff said that a “change in both the current uniform and throwback uniform for the team is possible, if not likely, in the not too distant future.” He said, “At some time in the next five years, you’ll see a complete uniform -- throwback and current uniform -- change. I’d be surprised if we didn’t have it.” In St. Louis, Jim Thomas notes the Rams’ decision to wear their ’99 throwback uniforms against the Titans and Buccaneers “was a natural” one because the Rams beat the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship and Titans in the Super Bowl that season. Demoff: “If you were looking for a throwback home ‘schedule,’ this was pretty obvious. Even we couldn’t (mess) this one up” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/14).
GET IT STRAIGHT: In Cleveland, Bud Shaw notes there has been a “groundswell of support this week” for Browns color analyst Bernie Kosar's “right to speak his mind” following critical comments about Rams players last week. However, this “is not a story about censorship of analysis.” The Browns “rightly consider it a professional courtesy to extend the same level of respectful commentary to a visiting team it would expect for its own players.” Kosar “fell way short of that.” Shaw: “No big deal. Not a fireable offense. Just no reason to celebrate him or his ‘strong’ stance” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/14).
TAKE IT TO THE HOUSE: In Miami, Adam Beasley notes President Obama will welcome the undefeated ‘72 Dolphins to the White House on Tuesday for “the first ceremony honoring their historic season” and the team is “making every effort to ensure it’s well-attended.” Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has “offered to pay the travel for any member of the ’72 [team] that wants to go.” There are “more than 40 living players and coaches, and nearly all have RSVP’d” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/14).