SBD/April 10, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
New Canucks President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden said that his "first task is to begin a GM search, both inside and outside the organization," and added that he "hopes to have someone in place by mid-June or even the beginning of that month," according to Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver PROVINCE. He added that "what the GM position looks like is open-ended." Linden: "We’re building a management team that can fill a number of different holes. So if we find somebody we really like, we can fill in the other areas." Linden said that he has "had very little time to come up with a detailed master plan at this point, but he knows there are lots of balls in the air and he needs to be able to catch them all." Jamieson writes Linden "isn't worried about his lack of NHL management experience." Linden said, "My experience comes from playing, no question" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 4/10). Canucks co-Owner & Chair Francesco Aquilini said, "Trevor will make all of the decisions on hockey-related personnel, coaches, players, free agents. Trevor will in be charge of all hockey operations and make all the decisions." Linden said that he "has been promised full autonomy" (VANCOUVER SUN, 4/10).
PR PLAY? In Vancouver, Iain MacIntyre writes the hiring of Linden, "easily the most loved figure in franchise history, is so wildly popular the Canucks immediately pushed back to next Thursday the deadline for season-ticket renewals." There already has "been a surge in renewals," but the extended deadline gives fans, many who are "waffling at renewing after this dreadful season, eight more days to digest the change." The Canucks have scheduled a 3:00pm ET webcast tomorrow to "allow Linden to answer questions from concerned ticket-holders" (VANCOUVER SUN, 4/10). Also in Vancouver, Ed Willes writes Linden's hiring "reeks of a public-relations ploy, and while he’s [the] right man for the job, that’s almost besides the point." Linden, "predictably, presented well and hit all the right notes in his first appearance," but "make no mistake, the Linden persona was the biggest consideration in this hire." He will "make people feel good about the Canucks" and "say and do the right things." There is a "comfort and confidence factor there between the former captain and hockey fans in this province and, right now, the Canucks desperately need someone to rebuild a relationship which has been fractured this season." But the Canucks also "need someone to rebuild this organization, and Linden will try to do in two or three onths what should take two or three years" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 4/10). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote the Linden hiring is about "sales" and "belief." Cotsonika: "But if you’re a season-ticket holder, are you sold just because general manager Mike Gillis is gone? Do you believe just because Trevor’s here now? Or do you wait and see what the plan actually is before you come back?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/9). The NATIONAL POST's Bruce Arthur writes maybe Linden "is ready for this, and is capable of this," but his hiring is "a decision based on hope, and maybe season tickets" (NATIONAL POST, 4/10).
ENTRY-LEVEL POSITION: Linden said that he is "encouraged by the success" seen by several former players-turned-execs, such as Bruins President Cam Neely, Avalanche Exec VP/Hockey Operations Joe Sakic and Lightning VP & GM Steve Yzerman. However, in Vancouver, Brad Ziemer writes Linden "figures to have a much steeper learning curve than Neely, Sakic and Yzerman," who each had front office roles prior to their current positions (VANCOUVER SUN, 4/10). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Rory Boylen wrote Linden, "with his lack of experience running a head office, recognizes this is not a one-man job." He "recognizes the necessity to not only surround himself with good hockey minds, but independent hockey minds." What the Canucks "don’t need is to start down a predetermined path with a gaggle of Yes Men" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 4/9).
Rooftop seating at the MLB Cardinals' Ballpark Village "has brought an additional 534 seats" towards the team's attendance figures, according to Derrick Goold of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. A paid crowd of 47,492 attended Monday's home opener, "the largest ever for a baseball game" at the new Busch Stadium. Official capacity at the ballpark previously was 46,861, including standing-room only. The rooftop seats are "part of the attendance, but not the ballpark," and are "shared revenue sources for the Ballpark Village enterprise." Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said, "You have to look at those as part of the Ballpark Village economics. There will be an element that eventually creates a waterfall that spreads to other aspects of the ballclub. But I think it's premature to say with this revenue the spigot will open, bump up payroll." He added the additional revenue is "not something that will go immediately to the ballclub." Goold notes the potential tickets "added over the course of an 81-game schedule is equivalent to one game" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/9).
Falcons Owner Arthur Blank's new MLS team in Atlanta is "expected to pay an expansion fee" somewhere between the $70M paid by Orlando City SC and the $100M paid by NYC FC, according to Brian Straus of SI.com. Blank, appearing on Atlanta's WCNN-AM on Tuesday, confirmed his expansion agreement is in "the very final stages." He added that the MLS BOG "already has approved the use" of the Falcons' new stadium, which is set to open in '17. Straus reported the stadium "will be built with soccer in mind, with a wide field (albeit artificial turf) and a draping system that will create a second, temporary roof over the lower deck." In Blank, MLS has "vetted its new partner carefully" and "determined that he's in it for the right reasons." MLS also "has a long-standing relationship" with Falcons Exec VP and Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer Jim Smith, who served as Crew GM from '00-04. He has "played a key role in helping Blank arrange his expansion bid." Still, an Atlanta MLS franchise will have "skeptics, either because of the empty seats at Braves playoff games and the departure of the Thrashers or because of a more deep-seated doubt that the southeast will support pro soccer." But if Sporting KC "has proven anything, it’s that a well-run club with the right stadium can succeed just about anywhere." Meanwhile, a 24th MLS team "should be on board" by '20. A source said that Minneapolis "is considered the frontrunner" (SI.com, 4/9).
ENOUGH TO GO AROUND? In Montreal, Matthew Wood wrote while expansion "can be considered good news to the current clubs, the pace at which MLS is growing is perhaps slight cause for concern." With current rosters set at 30, there are "serious questions as to the ability of the United States and Canada to support an extra 21% growth within three years." Wood: "Simply put -- do the U.S. elite ranks have enough talent to put an extra 120 players into MLS without 'watering down' the product that has begun to win so many local fans?" (MONTREALGAZETTE.com, 4/9).
Showtime's Jim Rome last night said the Lakers are "one of the most storied franchises in the history of sports," and "we don't know exactly what's going on on the inside, but on the outside you might say it looks like there's high drama, maybe even feuding among siblings." Lakers Exec VP/Business Operations Jeanie Buss appeared on the show for a one-one-one, and Rome asked, "Is that how it is?" Buss said the "media likes to play that up. It makes it very interesting, but to me, we're in a family business. We run it like a family. There's consensus and maybe we don't agree on everything, but we work things through. Everybody has a defined role." Buss said the family "may not always agree, but we work it out." Meanwhile, Rome noted Buss' relationship with Knicks President Phil Jackson and introduced her as "half of the most celebrated couple in the NBA." He then asked, "How could there not be a role in that franchise for Phil Jackson?" Buss said Jackson "wanted to work again." She added, "The basketball side was covered. Phil wanted to influence an organization and I think he got the second-best job in the NBA now" with the Knicks ("Jim Rome on Showtime," 4/9).
MODERN FAMILY: Buss said of the way her father, late Lakers Owner Jerry Buss, designed the management setup between her and her siblings, "He knew our strong points, and I think he prepared us to be successful. He wanted this team to stay in the family." She added of her relationship with brother and Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss, "I'm ultimately accountable. If someone isn't living up to expectations, (to) responsibilities, it's up to me to make the change that's necessary, so I guess that puts me in a different situation than just siblings. The media like to pump up that, but my brother has said it as well, that Jeanie's in charge and ultimately he would have to answer to me. But I don't run it like a dictatorship. I like to build consensus. I like everyone to have a voice in how we operate." Meanwhile, Buss said Lakers fans are "in it through thick and thin." She added, "They need to see steps are being taken, an investment's being made in the team, that we're building for the future to get back to the promised land." Buss said of expanding her media availability, "It's not my style usually to assert myself so strongly, but I want the fans to know that we're going to get the team back to where it should be" (L.A. TIMES, 4/9).
Yankees P Masahiro Tanaka last night made his home debut at Yankee Stadium to "vast areas of empty seats and virtually no buzz," and while the crowd was announced as 39,412, that number "appeared to be inflated by between 5,000-10,000," according to Wallace Matthews of ESPN N.Y. However, there "are several possible explanations" for the lack of buzz, including the fact that the "early April cold weather kept a lot of people snug and warm at home in front of their TV sets." Moreover, the "exorbitant prices scared many off," and a "great number of Yankees fans ... aren't quite sold on this team yet." Last night's game "should have been an event, if only because of the preseason hype surrounding Tanaka and the fact that so far he has performed pretty darn well." It "was surprising to see how many fans chose to ignore the first home start by the most sought-after pitcher in this year's free-agent market" (ESPNNY.com, 4/10). Meanwhile, a N.Y. TIMES editorial states the first week and a half of the '14 MLB season "has produced some especially bleak scenes" when it comes to attendance. On Tuesday, there "weren't many fans watching" Rays-Royals, Padres-Indians or Astros-Blue Jays, "where the roof was closed." And there "were some very small crowds last week, too." It is "impossible to know for sure just how bad some of these turnouts have been," as the "only data baseball releases is tickets sold" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/10).
In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle noted the Pacers "will have sold out 28 games as of their last regular-season game April 13." That is the most since the 41 of the '99-'00 season, when the Pacers moved into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and went to the NBA finals. That also is "18 more sellouts than last season and more than the last three seasons combined." Average attendance of 17,501 is "third-highest since the Pacers made their home at the fieldhouse" and up 15% over last season's average. The Pacers are "set to finish 15th of 30 NBA teams in attendance and 12th in percentage of seats sold" at home, which is a "major jump from just three years ago" (IBJ.com, 4/9).
GOING ALL IN: Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob yesterday said of his goal to win an NBA Championship, "I’m 58 years old now, and I’ve been successful. I’ve made a lot of money. I’ve done a lot of things I’ve wanted to do in life, but now we have this new venture, which is the Warriors. A second career, if you will, and all I can think about it is, we have to win a championship. I will be a failure. We will be a failure if we do not win the championship. So that’s what drives me" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 4/9).
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD: In Portland, Jason Quick writes the Trail Blazers "should start bubble wrapping the Executive of the Year trophy" for GM Neil Olshey. Nobody in the NBA "did more with less last summer than Olshey." Quick: "When you are batting as high of an average as he is with his moves ... you can do what you want, act how you want" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/7).