Thursday, May 28, 2009

Free Agency and the Florida Panthers; It's Not Just About J-Bo

Head over to the Hockey Writers for my piece about our free agents. Yes, I am too lazy to copy and paste. It's summer. Give me a break. Just click the link.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Yormark Blogs

On the Florida Panthers' official site, team President Michael Yormark has come forward to explain the decision to let Denis Potvin go. Please click here to read his full post. I will do my best to pull out a few excerpts that caught my eye.

"As we move forward with our new multi-year agreement with FOX Sports Florida, we will have much more control and input as it relates to production and advertising sales. This was very important to us when we restructured our partnership early this year."

Makes sense. This is, after all, a business. Advertising sales are a giant part of business. If this was a business decision, fine. It sucks, but we are going through hard times, and it's naive to think anyone is immune. But wait...

"Furthermore, due to our arrangement with FOX Sports Florida, this was not a financial decision. Again, it was a decision based on what we believe is best for our fans."

Huh? Production and ad sales were a big part of this decision, yet it was not a financial decision. His words. Now I'm not a business mogul. I don't have any experience running a multi-million dollar, professional franchise. But I did take economics in high school. And I'm pretty sure ad sales are a financial aspect of business. If I'm wrong, please correct me. And as for a decision that's best for the fans... the 50+ comments on George Richards' blogs by fans seem to disagree. The 104 votes against the decision as opposed to the 13 for it on a fellow blog, Litter Box Cats, also leans the other way. If it's a business decision, fine. Just don't try to hide behind the "It's best for our fans" line. It's embarrassing.

Mr. Yormarck goes on to speak highly of how Billy Lindsay and Steve Goldstein will work together. "I promise you, you will be amazed at how powerful they are together! I've seen them do a game together and they are awesome!!!!" says Mr. President. Wow! A whole game together! Swing and a miss. This is nothing against Goldie or Bill. Lindsay scored possibly the most famous goal in Panthers' history. Goldstein has been with the organization for years, going back to doing the in-house, between period hi-lights. But to think that this is a move that will better the on-air presentation is asinine. Forgetting Denis Potvin's hall of fame playing career, he has been on the Panthers' broadcast team for almost 16 years. To question Potvin's dedication to the team and organization is border line offensive. Because he returns home to Canada and doesn't live in south Florida during the summer months, he isn't as devoted? Not buying it. He has been here since day 1 and sat beside a handful of play by play guys. He's always come back because I believe he truly loves this team. This past season, you could here the pain in his voice as the Panthers struggled down the stretch. He has been as much a part of this organization as anyone, and is obviously one of the, if not the longest tenured man in the franchise.

I think it is clear to anyone that this was a financial decision. Potvin was let go because he isn't around 365 days a year to help sell the Panthers' brand. Ad sales and production are important to any business, I have no qualms with that. It's the assertion that this decision was based not on money, but "for the fans." The fans clearly are not in favor of this decision. I don't know what fans Mr. Yormarck has talked to, if any. It's using the fans, myself as a fan, as a scape goat for making an unpopular business decision that makes my stomach turn. I have no doubts in the skills or abilities of Billy and Goldie. I look forward to listening to them next season and I wish Denis Potvin the best. He was the one constant this team had since the beginning. Owners, players, and presidents have come and gone. Potvin stayed. Now, who knows. I continue to hope for the best. It's just not easy when you feel like you're being lied to by the man that runs your team.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More On Potvin

Big kudos to my favorite source of inside information, George Richards, for posting his conversation On Frozen Pond. Please check out his blog for full comments.

It boils down to this; Team prez Michael Yormark says it was not a financial decision to let Potvin go. "The reality, based on financial relationship with Fox is there really is no difference whether we have three, five, one or 10 in the booth. It's not a financial decision." He goes on to say that he makes decisions that are in the best interest of the franchise, and this is one of them.
Really, Mr. President? I'm not an accountant. I don't pretend to understand all that goes into a franchise. But wouldn't the number of broadcasters affect the number of dollars needed to pay them? How is letting a broadcaster go bettering the franchise? Because he disagreed with people? He voiced his own opinion? "Something in the right
direction for the franchise" smells a lot like "guy who will do what I tell him to."

It seems like the main reason Potvin is moving on is that he does not live in south Florida during the offseason, and Yormark wants to use his on-air talent in his ad campaigns and team summer events. Potvin, who lives in Canada during the summer, wouldn't be available for team or charity outings. I guess Yormark just thinks that's more important then I do. And in the end, it's his team.

I am sure that Denis Potvin will be able to find work somewhere. He has been the Panthers TV color man for almost 16 years, and was a hall of fame player before that. Whether it's behind a desk at a national studio (TSN, CBC) or with another team, I wish him the best of luck. He'll be missed.

Denis Potvin Out

This from the Florida Panthers home page; "Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and the Florida Panthers announced today the restructuring of the hockey club’s broadcast teams on FOX Sports Florida and Sports Talk 790 the Ticket for the 2009-10 NHL season. Steve Goldstein, Billy Lindsay and Randy Moller will return to the broadcast booth in 09-10, while Denis Potvin will not be retained. Goldstein will continue to handle television play-by-play duties with Lindsay joining him as color analyst, while Moller will call Panthers radio broadcasts on 790 The Ticket."

It's a sad day for this Panther fan. Denis Potvin has been the TV voice of the Florida Panthers since day 1. On the surface, this move looks like it's strictly financial. Potvin is the longest tenured broadcaster on staff, and a hall of fame player to boot. Clearly, he'd be the highest paid guy on the air. And this is nothing against Billy Lindsay. He's a franchise icon (as far as Panther icons go) and did a fine job on radio. But with no one being brought in to assist Mr. Moller on the radio side, it appears to be all about the money. I can't begin to imagine trying to do hockey play by play on the radio by yourself. Baseball, sure. It's a slow game, time to catch your breath, tell a story, you're on your own. Football, maybe. But hockey is too fast and there's not a lot of time between breaks in play. Good luck Randy.

As far as Potvin goes, I'm interested to hear his side. If it is just a business decision, it sucks. Times are what they are, though, and tough decisions have to be made. It sure would have been nice to see him go out after just one more playoff series... More details as they surface.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Panther(s) Find Net Against France

A couple of Panther players were finally able to get in the goal column at the IIHF World Championships. Keith "Kevin" Ballard found a way to get a wrist shot through a crowd, surprising the French netminder for his first tally in the tournament. Earlier today, Karlis Skrastins showed off his offensive skills, making a nifty deke around the same French goalie for his first.

Nice to see our boys get on the score sheet. Big showdown later this afternoon, if you're sick of that whole Ovechkin vs. Crosby thing, between USA and Russia. Both are fighting for the top spot in the group.