The Senators: A Tough Sell

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    Have the Sens lost the trust of their fans?

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    [ 8 ]
    23% [23%] 
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    Total Votes: 35

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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:03 pm

    davetherave wrote:
    Good question. I became a Blackhawks fan just before they won their last Cup in 1961 because I was fascinated by the players, their logo and their history. I just thought they were really cool. I read about the great 40's teams with Bill Mosienko and Max Bentley and I was captivated by Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Glenn Hall among others.

    But what I related to was the character of the team.

    Through good and bad years, that character never disappeared. Even through the management debacles, some of Bob Pulford's strange decisions and the late Bill Wirtz's intransigence, there was always the pride of the Blackhawks that could be seen in the players.

    The Keith Magnusons, Pat Stapletons, Tony Espositos, Steve Larmers, Ed Belfours, Jeremy Roenicks, Darryl Sutters, Doug Wilsons, Denis Savards, the list goes on and on. Win or lose, you always felt they were committed to competing.

    There was, and is--if one can use the term--a certain magic in pulling on a Blackhawks jersey.

    So no matter where I have lived, whether in this city, or abroad, I have always followed, and cheered for, the Blackhawks.

    I also admire Chicago fans' loyalty to their sports teams, like the Hawks, Cubs, White Sox, Bears, and Bulls.

    Here is an anecdote which sums up what the Hawks are about: Denis Savard called out his young talents last year. He said, "If you don't understand what it means 'to play for the Indian'"--the storied symbol of the Hawks--"then you don't belong on this team."

    Savard took them as far as he could. Hawks management, under the guidance of Bill Wirtz' son and successor Rocky, realized they had to take the team to the next level. Dale Tallon was given a mandate to bring in Campbell and Huet--big committments. When Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville came on board, Savard was obliged to step aside as coach--but he is well rewarded and respected as an Ambassador for the Blackhawks.

    This year and during the Winter Classic, the Blackhawks have showed their class and reverence for the team's heritage by honouring their legends, like Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito, Pierre Pilote, Stan Mikita and Denis Savard among others.

    This serves as a lesson and a motivation for the young guys.

    It means playing for more than your paycheque. More than statistics. More than even a Cup. It means playing 'for the Indian'. And knowing your personal best isn't good enough if your team is less than the best it can be.

    This year's team is a reward for Blackhawks fans who have been patient. But these same fans have never been shy about voicing their criticism--and showing their displeasure by speaking with their closed wallets.

    One thing is clear--the young Hawks are worthy of the tremendous support they are receiving. How far they go this season, well who knows?

    I watched the Hawks-Flames game last night (as I do every one of Chicago's games if possible). 110% effort and T-E-A-M spirit, from beginning to end, by both teams. It's no coincidence that Darryl Sutter and Mike Keenan, both former Hawks coaches, knew exactly what they would be facing.

    Having talent is something. But playing with pride means everything. 8)


    Love this but can you clarify something for me. You ripped Murray previously for not doing enough to build the right team. Then you also say that Chicago always played with the TEAM concept despite the ineptness (spelling??) of management.

    Are you saying that Ottawa has the right players but they are not playing the right TEAM game, or are you saying that the players need to be changed?

    One issue points to Murray (who remember has really just been a GM for a full season ie one draft), although he inherited a lot of the issues from poor decisions made under the management structure led by Muckler.

    The other points to the players.

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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by davetherave on Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:25 pm

    Dawg's Wife, the answer to your questions is no...I was simply replying to the Cap'n's questions about the Blackhawks.

    Chicago has certainly seen its share of hard times and management gaffes.

    However, from what I have observed and noted, the players, for the most part, can be said to have given their level best.

    This year's success for Chicago is, besides the good management decisions, a function of realism and the will to win worthy of this storied and proud franchise.

    There is no allusion or implication relative to the situation in Ottawa. As I stated before, IMHO as far as the Senators are concerned, Mr Murray has enough experience to know what he should do. Similarly, the players are professionals, so they should know what they have to do.


    Last edited by davetherave on Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:30 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : omission)

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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by LethalLehner on Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:00 pm

    Being a season ticket holder and having put up a lot of money this year, it is frustrating to see them lose. I think we have kind of lived in a bubble for a while now where the team has been good or great. This year and part of last year have been the hardest times for the Sens and their fans. I won't lie, I have been thinking about cancelling my season tickets but I am now starting to realize why I buy them. I love hockey and I want to support the Sens. It is easy to walk away and say that by not buying tickets you are sending a message. That is fine and each person is entitled to make their own choices. But I do have to admit that the support that the Habs and Leafs fans have for their team is awe inspiring. They may complain about the players, the organization, etc but they are always filling the arena. They support them through thick and thin. I am not saying that people here are not supporting the team, far from it, but everyone I have spoken to is not renewing their season tickets and these are not for financial reasons. It seems that any sport in Ottawa is supported when they are winning but lose a few and the support drops off..be it the Sens, the Lynx, or the Rough Riders. I for one am going to renew my seats and I might even take advantage of upgrading since it seems that there be a lot of good seats to choose from. Just my 0.02

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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 06, 2009 6:50 pm

    ElliottRules wrote:Being a season ticket holder and having put up a lot of money this year, it is frustrating to see them lose. I think we have kind of lived in a bubble for a while now where the team has been good or great. This year and part of last year have been the hardest times for the Sens and their fans. I won't lie, I have been thinking about cancelling my season tickets but I am now starting to realize why I buy them. I love hockey and I want to support the Sens. It is easy to walk away and say that by not buying tickets you are sending a message. That is fine and each person is entitled to make their own choices. But I do have to admit that the support that the Habs and Leafs fans have for their team is awe inspiring. They may complain about the players, the organization, etc but they are always filling the arena. They support them through thick and thin. I am not saying that people here are not supporting the team, far from it, but everyone I have spoken to is not renewing their season tickets and these are not for financial reasons. It seems that any sport in Ottawa is supported when they are winning but lose a few and the support drops off..be it the Sens, the Lynx, or the Rough Riders. I for one am going to renew my seats and I might even take advantage of upgrading since it seems that there be a lot of good seats to choose from. Just my 0.02

    Maybe thats why the Leafs have not won a cup in 40 plus years.
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by jamvan on Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:09 pm

    Hayden wrote:regardless how they play - i'm still on the edge of my seat for every game. makes me sick when "fans" say they're never watching them again or that they're going to stop going to games.

    they will always be my team - regardless.
    Amen buddy! I like the true fans like you. I am right there beside you. Win or lose, I am a Sens fan forever!
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by davetherave on Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:30 pm

    ElliottRules, it seems to me you represent an extremely valuable fan constituency whose intelligence and dedication may be underestimated by both Mr Melnyk and Mr Murray--and dare I say it--some of the millionaire athletes who pull on a Sens jersey.

    I have nothing but respect for Senators fans.

    Being from Ottawa and having lived and worked in other NHL markets like Montreal, Toronto, New York, South Florida, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Columbus and San Jose, I have been able to observe the relationship between the NHL and a number of its target audiences first hand.

    In Anaheim, the clownish approach of The Disney Company (and possibly the worst jersey ever to be worn in the NHL, the angry flying duck) made the Ducks a joke until the new owners decided to turn them into a worthy Stanley Cup team.

    In South Florida, the mishandling of the Panthers prior to Jacques Martin's arrival there was shocking. Martin and Peter DeBoer may yet revive the team, but for the franchise--which enjoyed a rabid following in its early years--it may be too late.

    People forget that the Ottawa Senators--winners of 11 Stanley Cups--once died from the failure of their owners. But then, 1934 is ancient history for many.

    Given this region's rich hockey heritage, I believe Ottawa fans deserve a team that is dedicated to excellence in every aspect, regardless of their place in the standings.

    While Mr Melnyk's investment and passion are to be applauded, IMHO both he and Mr Murray have dropped the ball this season.

    Would it have been so difficult after last year's playoff debacle to come out and say to the fans, "We're not happy with the team's performance, and we're going to make some changes. We want to thank you for your support and we are asking for your patience. We won't win every game, but we guarantee this team will play its heart out every game."?

    Instead, fans were offered false hopes. Players were let go. A few free agents were signed. The pitch from Mr Murray was "we're going to be defensively responsible and harder to play against." A coach was hired and the party line was 'accountability'. That same coach was fired half a season later and replaced by another coach who promised 'accountability'. This after the owner and the general manager had sent a series of messages that promised 'accountability'.

    I, for one, had believed that Melnyk and Murray had a plan; a long term plan based on the hiring of a coach who had a solid pedigree as an NHL player, experience coaching teams in transition (Chicago and Anaheim) and impressive successes in junior hockey and several World Junior Championships.

    But the clumsy way Craig Hartsburg was axed, scuttled that belief.

    Was Mr Hartsburg, in retrospect, the right man for the job? Perhaps, perhaps not. But if he wasn't, then why was he hired in the first place? Why had John Paddock, another good hockey man, been hired, only to be fired?

    Consumers are not stupid. Hockey fans are not stupid.

    When a business, from the corner grocery to a major corporation, makes a mistake, it has two choices. It can admit its error, and offer to give the customer satisfaction, or it can deny its error. The latter course of action is almost always disastrous.

    Loyal fans--and they are gold to a franchise--may continue to purchase their season and game tickets.

    But the greater fan base needs to be constantly convinced that their money is being well spent.

    In a city like Chicago, the fan discontent reached a level of alarming proportions as the team stumbled through several years of mediocrity and the stubborn refusal of William Wirtz Sr to acknowledge it. Only Wirtz Sr's death and the takeover of the team by his son Rocky and a new management team headed by John McDonough allowed that franchise to be revived. Did the fans of the Blackhawks stop being Blackhawk fans? Absolutely not. But did they make their unhappy voices heard by withholding their game day dollars? Very much so.

    Management under Rocky Wirtz listened, and they acted decisively.

    Today the Blackhawks are an exciting, competitive team and the United Center is sold out.

    As a Blackhawks fan, this is reassuring to me. But as I have said, almost fifty years of loyalty to the team is not easily shaken.

    As an Ottawa native, I want the Senators to be an excellent team.

    I want to cheer them on. But I want reasons to cheer based on the evident desire of the players to give everything they have in exchange for the privilege of being paid princely sums to play hockey.

    And I want management to be honest. If they screw up, I want them to admit it. An honest mistake, admitted, can be forgiven.

    As a consumer, I also want value for my dollar. And I believe Ottawa hockey fans are discerning consumers who want the same thing.

    Once again, I want to thank all the posters here on GMHockey for an excellent forum and the opportunity to discuss hockey with all of you.

    Have a great Friday evening, everyone.


    Last edited by davetherave on Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : sp)
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    LethalLehner
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by LethalLehner on Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:10 pm

    Davetherave, thanks for the great comments. I would like to think that I am pretty loyal. I agree with you on the points you made and the fact that Murray and Melnyk don't admit their mistakes is definitely frustating. I continue to believe that management will remove some of the players that think they are bigger than the game or the ones that think they don't have to play hard now that they make their big pay cheques. Hopefully I will not be disppointed next season. Some nay-sayers will say that I shouldn't hold my breath but I think based on the drop of season ticket sales, management will have no other choice than to make some changes.
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by davetherave on Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:28 pm

    ElRules, thanks. Let's hope that you are right.

    The season ticket sales are 15% lower than last year according to reports. It was also reported the attendance at the Bruins game was the lowest at SBP this season.

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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by Guest on Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:48 pm

    davetherave wrote:ElRules, thanks. Let's hope that you are right.

    The season ticket sales are 15% lower than last year according to reports. It was also reported the attendance at the Bruins game was the lowest at SBP this season.
    and yet the real fans were treated to a real game. :D
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by LethalLehner on Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:50 pm

    2 years ago the sales were at 13,000, last year it dropped to 11,000 and there is speculation that this year will be around 7,500. that is a close to a 40% drop in 3 years. that is pretty scary and it must hurt Melnyk's pocket book.
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by LethalLehner on Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:52 pm

    Tukker wrote:
    davetherave wrote:ElRules, thanks. Let's hope that you are right.

    The season ticket sales are 15% lower than last year according to reports. It was also reported the attendance at the Bruins game was the lowest at SBP this season.
    and yet the real fans were treated to a real game. :D

    It was a pretty decent game last night. It took Foligno's goal to get the crowd into the game but that still didn't stop some of the booing during the powerplay.
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by davetherave on Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:30 am

    Tukker wrote:
    davetherave wrote:ElRules, thanks. Let's hope that you are right.

    The season ticket sales are 15% lower than last year according to reports. It was also reported the attendance at the Bruins game was the lowest at SBP this season.
    and yet the real fans were treated to a real game. :D

    Tukker, from a marketing perspective, one of the most difficult challenges is not to get a customer, or even to keep a customer. It is get a customer back once you have lost them.

    While diehard fans will tough it out when the going gets rough for their team, the majority of consumers will 'switch off' much sooner.

    Sports franchises cannot prosper simply from diehard fans; they need to continually attract those fans who might choose to spend their entertainment dollar elsewhere.

    The Senators cannot afford to start losing fans.

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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by Guest on Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:53 am

    davetherave wrote:
    Tukker wrote:
    davetherave wrote:ElRules, thanks. Let's hope that you are right.

    The season ticket sales are 15% lower than last year according to reports. It was also reported the attendance at the Bruins game was the lowest at SBP this season.
    and yet the real fans were treated to a real game. :D

    Tukker, from a marketing perspective, one of the most difficult challenges is not to get a customer, or even to keep a customer. It is get a customer back once you have lost them.

    While diehard fans will tough it out when the going gets rough for their team, the majority of consumers will 'switch off' much sooner.

    Sports franchises cannot prosper simply from diehard fans; they need to continually attract those fans who might choose to spend their entertainment dollar elsewhere.

    The Senators cannot afford to start losing fans.

    Tell that to MLSE.
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by smash88 on Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:31 am

    SeawaySensFan wrote:Win or lose, they're still my team. I was there for the early days listening to most games on the radio when TV coverage was infrequent.

    I doubt that season ticket holders and frequent visitors to the rink will keep supporting this team with their wallets though.

    That is the point... Sure i'll still follow the team as I always have... But I work hard in order to go to 3-4 games a year... 2 games so far have been the worst displays of hockey I have seen in a while... I was strongly considering season tickets next year, a combination of the poor play and poison atmosphere inside Scotiabank Place (where you get yelled at for cheering too loud) has got me thinking i'll save my money...

    I'm sure i'll still end up going to a few games simply because I can't keep myself away, I am a diehard hockey fan, but i'm also not an idiot or a sucker... If i'm going to spend that kind of money, I expect better not only from the Sens on the ice, but the organization as a whole, going to a few games in the past little while, has just been disheartening....
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by beerandsens on Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:26 pm

    I voted for "Give me a team that tries and I'll stick with 'em".

    I'll start my explaination with an oversimplified analogy, so take it with a grain of salt. Let's not forget that Commercial Sport Enterprise is about branding and profit, just like Coca Cola, Energizer or Gillette. Sports teams use their brands to differentiate, ensure fan loyalty and a steady stream of income and support.

    When Coca Cola switched to the "New Coke" to compete with their rival Pepsi, and their image of being the drink for the new generation, Coke fans revolted in a big way and stopped buying the product. Almost immediately the original Coca Cola formula resurfaced under the label Coca Cola Classic and they retained many of their supporters but had lost a significant amount as well. The financial impact was the catalyst in both the attempt to improve (which was a bust) and in the getting it together and going back to what works.

    The moral of the story? Brand names products have to maintain a certain degree of quality or they risk losing all but the most die hard fans. The fun part about sports enterprise is that the product changes from season to season and in the Sens case last year, from mid-season to post season.

    Sport organizations influence sport culture (and vice versa) and help shape how we percieve what a good fan is, what a bandwagon fan is etc. The idea is to create lifelong fans that will spend their money on the product for life, regardless of the performance.

    To uncritically accept an on ice product regardless of how it performs would be playing right into the interest of Mr. Melnyk. Paying for something that isn't working in sport means you're a good fan but would sound ridiculous on any other platform. I would feel exploited buying energizer batteries if their charge dwindled over time as energizer tinkered with the formula.

    All that being said, I will probably die a Sens fan. This season has been our worst in over a decade and I'm still excited about the Sens. But I won't answer "Win or lose Sens are my team", because there's a lot more to it than winning and losing. Effort level, passion, excitement and pride should all be there. If they aren't for years on end, I'll find a team that reminds me why I love watching and playing hockey.
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    Re: The Senators: A Tough Sell

    Post by davetherave on Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:48 pm

    hemlock wrote:
    davetherave wrote:

    While diehard fans will tough it out when the going gets rough for their team, the majority of consumers will 'switch off' much sooner.

    Sports franchises cannot prosper simply from diehard fans; they need to continually attract those fans who might choose to spend their entertainment dollar elsewhere.

    The Senators cannot afford to start losing fans.

    Tell that to MLSE.

    MLSE...now's there's an example of an organization that makes more money as their on-ice product gets worse. Go figure.
    scratch
    They probably even make money on the bags the fans put over their heads. Wink

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