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SBD/February 17, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
Blues RW T.J. Oshie's "enhanced star power" after scoring four shootout goals for the U.S. against Russia on Saturday will "create a buzz that can boost business" for the team, according to Bernie Miklasz of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The Blues went into the NHL Olympic break 19th in average home attendance at 16,263 fans per game "despite having the league’s No. 1 winning percentage." Blues President of Business Operations Bruce Affleck said, "It’s a team game, but we hope it can make a difference. Hopefully his shootout performance against Russia and everything that came after it is something that will raise awareness, and excite the more casual fans out there." He added, "Oshie is going to be even more popular now, and that’s good for the Blues." Miklasz notes the Blues have three players on Team USA -- Oshie, C David Backes and D Kevin Shattenkirk -- and if the U.S. can "capture the gold, more empty seats will fill at Scottrade Center" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/17).
LIVING IN THE LIMELIGHT: In a special to USA TODAY, Bob Kravitz notes Oshie's life "changed" for at least a day, as he "had interview requests from all the major U.S. TV and radio shows, including 'Today,' 'Good Morning America' and everybody this side of Oprah." USA Hockey Senior Dir of Communications Dave Fischer said, "We tried to accommodate them the best we could, but there's only so much you can do. Plus, with the (nine-hour) time difference, it's tough to get to all of them." Kravitz notes Oshie nonetheless "did a bunch" of interviews. After addressing the media at the "mixed zone, he went to a larger news conference at the main media center." Oshie then went to NBC's studios to talk with Dan Patrick, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth "before returning to his room in the Athletes Village around 10:15" (USA TODAY, 2/17). In Philadelphia, Al Morganti wrote, "No matter what happens from here, what Oshie did ... Saturday will forever earn him a spot in Olympic legend" (PHILLY.com, 2/15). In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote, "This achievement by Oshie -- who sure isn’t unknown any more -- is something that will long be remembered. He won’t have to buy very often, if at all" (N.Y. POST, 2/16).
KEEPING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE: In California, Scott Reid writes Oshie is "visibly uneasy in the spotlight that has followed him" since the U.S.-Russia game. Oshie Saturday night said, "The American heroes are wearing camo. That’s not me." He added yesterday, "When I heard the word hero it just didn’t really, didn’t really seem that’s what I am, what hockey players are. Those guys sacrifice a lot more than a couple of hours in the gym and practice every day. Those guys sacrifice their lives." Reid writes Oshie's "throwback personality will further endear him to a nation starving for American stars at an Olympics so far largely devoid of them" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/17).
NBA Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive this weekend sat for a Q&A with Ailene Voisin of the SACRAMENTO BEE, discussing a "variety of topics," including the "proposed downtown arena and his plans to brand the Kings as a global team." Below are excerpts from the Q&A.
Q: Let’s start with an assessment of your first nine months of ownership. Is this what you expected? More difficult? Any obvious mistakes?
Ranadive: First and foremost, it’s been the most humbling experience of my life. The love and outpouring of support I get from the people of Sacramento is beyond my wildest expectations. I have just fallen in love with the place.
Q: How much did the community’s passion for the franchise factor into the design of the new arena? If capacity remains the same (approximately 17,500), it will be the smallest facility in the league.
Ranadive: We wanted to be intimate, to keep that communal fireplace feeling. We looked at all the arenas, and I think what we ended up with [is] the most intimate arena in the country.
Q: Have the politics of the arena situation been discouraging or disillusioning?
Ranadive: I kind of understand that people have different views. This is a situation where we bought the team, we bought the Downtown Plaza … and I’m a very optimistic person.
Q: Can you summarize your vision?
Ranadive: Your kids are going to look at their phone 400 times a day whether you like it or not, and if a fan comes and pays the price of admission, drives all the way, battles traffic, they should have at least the same information they can get at home. And they should be able to order food without leaving their seats. To knock mobile is a Luddite view of the world. It’s not one or the other. You can watch the game, high-five your friend, or interact with other fans. We want to be the showcase for the three vectors: globalization, technology, and sport as an agent to contribute to the local community.
Q: Both David Stern and his successor, Adam Silver, targeted India for the next phase of the league’s global expansion. Given the lack of facilities and infrastructure, realistically, how long until the NBA schedules preseason games in your hometown, Mumbai?
Ranadive: Right now, we’re just saying we’ll build out the fan base. When you approach these things, you take a long-term view. You don’t ask, “How am I going to make money right now?” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/17).
Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert said he "would’ve reworded the language" in his now-infamous letter to the team's fans following the departure of LeBron James in '10, but does not "regret sending a letter out to our fan base," according to Jason Lloyd of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Gilbert, asked about his relationship with James, said, "I just can’t get into that because he’s under contract to another team." Asked if he regretted sending the letter, Gilbert said, "People forget the letter was not to LeBron, it was to our fan base. If I had to do it again, for sure, I would’ve reworded several parts of it. But I think it definitely needed a strong statement from me at that time. I keep a couple binders on my desk and I have a binder of the responses to The Letter from the people of Cleveland. There’s thousands, maybe 2,000 from every facet of life ... For some reason, it appealed to this generational Cleveland thing." Gilbert said of the letter's impact, "People said nobody would come here, that’s not true. Do I think any players are going to not come here because Dan wrote a letter three or four years ago? I don’t think so." Finally, asked if the Cavaliers could attract a marquee free agent, Gilbert said, "I think there’s a misconception in the NBA. I think that players, for the most part, care about the team itself, the franchise and where it’s going and who the other players are vs. whether it’s in Cleveland" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/16).
HEIR TO THE THRONE? Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving, who was named the NBA All-Star Game MVP last night, is set to be a restricted free agent following the '14-15 season, and ESPN's George Karl said, “There's no question when you get a young, great player, how you keep him in your city for that extra four or five years is so important to building.” Karl added, “You've sold goods to your fan base and then he goes? Well, you go back to zero. It's a tough sell." ESPN’s Jon Barry said, “The situation in Cleveland as it is right now, man, it's ugly. If this thing doesn't turn around quickly, I think they're going to have a hard time holding on to Kyrie Irving.” ESPN Radio's Mike Golic: “Obviously, it's not as big as when they lost LeBron, but he's still their best player. It would be a huge blow” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 2/17).
Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten on Friday said that the price of general-admission parking at Dodger Stadium this season will go up from $10 to $15 as part of a plan to "improve the flow of traffic into the ballpark," according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. TIMES. The Dodgers "will continue offering $10 general-admission parking passes, but only to fans who purchase them in advance." Kasten: "The main bottleneck we have is transactions at the gates. ... This is in the name of providing an incentive to get your passes in advance." The Dodgers last year "experimented with offering free parking for cars with four or more people in them" (LATIMES.com, 2/14). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck noted "one of the first things Guggenheim Baseball Management did when it took over the team was to drop the cost of parking back to $10." But now, as they "begin their second full season of ownership, they are immediately going backward." The "absurdity of all this is how" Kasten "wrapped it around the guise of improving traffic flow." Dilbeck: "I will now pause 10 seconds to allow you to stop laughing." The increase is a "really bad idea" (LATIMES.com, 2/14).