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Tailing the Komets

Here's some gas on the fire

And then I'm back to vacation.

Anybody paying attention to the indoor football team?

Gee, just a few years ago they were drawing 7,500 fans per game and everybody thought it would go on forever. Is that five or six ownership groups who have been suckered in now? THAT'S why the Komets can't afford to take a chance on going to AAA hockey... because you can never expect that selling tickets will always remain the same in Fort Wayne!!!!! Same thing with CBA/NBDL/Division I/whatever. You can say they are different ownerships and different leagues, but that is exactly the point. Ownershps and leagues always change, but this is still the fickle Fort Wayne sports fans base.

Anybody notice the crowds for the Midwest League All-Star festivities? My boss said last week they'd draw 15,000 and everybody on Facebook was saying they'd sellout for the game, no problem. They had a combined 10,000 and 6,000 for the game because .... they didn't include it in the season-ticket package, they added $1 to the ticket prices and it was a Tuesday night.

And it's Fort Wayne -- where no one seems to know their sports history!

Also, not sure when everyone started to think Season Ticket Holders came to mean the same thing as Stock Holders. Hmmm. Another thing you are forgetting is that the commissioner works strictly for the owners not the other way around. Bowie Kuhn retired from the sports landscape a long time ago. Again, this is not a game, it is a business first, second and third. It's never going back, either.

Back to arguing amongst yourselves...

Just finished Nelson DeMille's The Lion (very good), started The Camal Club (not far enough in yet) and picked up Death Gate No. 1 today.

Bye bye.

Posted in: Komets


Thu, 06/24/2010 - 4:27pm

WOW=nice cameo & don't blink or he's gone.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 5:02pm

6000+ fans on a Tuesday night isnt too shabby for a minor league allstar baseball game that means nothing in the grand scheme of things for the season...

The tickets I bought for the game were increased by $3 not $1...

AAA would work here; but it would mean a much lower profit margin than what the K's are used to. I understand that as long as the Frankes are the Komets owners, they will do whats best for themselves as business owners and the fans will just have to accept whatever they get to take care of thier live hockey fix... That doesnt mean that people who want better will be happy and quiet and thats something EVERY business owner has to deal with..

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 5:09pm

"AAA would work here; but it would mean a much lower profit margin than what the K

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 5:25pm

You missed the point Hoss....

Blake mentioned that hockey today is a business first, second, third and that it will never change... My statement reaffirms his by saying that as the Owners of the K's, the Frankes will do whats best for themselves regardless of what the fans want... Its a business. I understand this...

And I type using about 7 fingers...never have been able to utilize the pinky fingers while typing and have never needed my left thumb...

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 5:58pm

So, I guess you missed my point...

"I understand that as long as the Frankes are the Komets owners..."

Would ANY OWNER want a smaller profit margin? Where does it make better business sense to shrink your bottom line?

indy ks fan
Thu, 06/24/2010 - 6:04pm

The Frankes have every right to do with the hockey team what they want--it's their team. However, I refuse to watch an inferior brand of hockey. I will go to Cincy to watch ECHL games.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 6:31pm

Well, I'll ask this then Hoss... How do you get Non-for-profit from a smaller profit margin comment???

It also depends on the businessman Hoss, I had a friend who owned a bar who reduced the price of his "specialty" beers shrinking his bottom line for the short term that payed off down the road due to increased business he got from those who like the more expensive beers. He listened and now his bottom line is better than before he lowered his prices... Good business sense.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 6:34pm

most of the bashing seems to come from the people wanting higher level hockey, and based on attendance numbers those people are in the minority.

the numbers show that if you just throw a hockey team on the ice you have a small crowd, if you turn the hockey night into an entertainment experience (like fort wayne) you draw night in and night out.

who are the teams that draw more than the komets and why do they draw more. is their fan base there for the entertainment or the level of hockey.

even in the NHL if you are not winning fans are not showing up, i only have my experience with the wild to state that, but i'm pretty sure its that way throughout, game 6 of the stanley cup finals you could still get tickets at 6 pm and they still had ticket upgrades available in the arena 10 minutes before faceoff.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 8:43pm

Definitely true, at least here in Fort Wayne. Komets attendance numbers will not take a significant hit unless the team tanks for a season or two. Most of the people filling the stands really couldn't care less about the quality of the game they are watching. They just want to be entertained.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 9:29pm

Wendy as is normally the case you are spot on. The families coming to the games with their kids are happy to have Icy running around, the goal horn going off, the occasional fight and a banner raised to the rafters more often than not, at least in recent years.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 10:35pm

I wonder where the concept that the hockey in the ECHL is better then in a league that pays more and had more vets and more liberal rules for tweeners? Seriously, is the hockey in the ECHL that much better? Based on what? I don't want to hear "affiliation" because that doesn't mean squat except in a few cases. Real affiliation is what you have in the AHL and minor league baseball. I'm talking about skill of players and the quality of the game on the ice, not some sort of maybe, third level affiliation where you might pick up an occasional scrap.

For example, over the years how many players have made it from Fort Wayne's single A (lower at that) baseball team to the majors? And I don't mean a call up for a cup of coffee, I mean serious, career building time. A bunch. How many players have made it (more or less permanently) to the NHL from Cincy's ECHL team? Extend that to all single A baseball teams and all ECHL teams. Does it really compare? If more players make it from a level A league then a AA league then one has to look seriously at how meaningful the "affiliation" is and possibly even the idea of calling it a AA league (another pet peeve of mine but better saved for another discussion).

I will admit, I have never seen an ECHL game, or CHL for that matter. All I can do is go by what others have told me, people who's hockey knowledge I respect. My first experience was when Peoria left the old IHL for the ECHL. Family and friends there were so disappointed after one season they dropped their season tickets and quit going. That was several years ago however so things may be different now, and going from a AAA primary affiliation to something much lower needs to be considered as part of their disappointment.

For opinions that may better represent the current talent level I have talked to a couple of friends (as recently as last week we again had this discussion) who have been Komet season tickets holders for close to 20 years, the wife's parents longer, and her brother played college hockey. I respect their opinions.

Because of a personal relationship with one of Kalamazoo players they attended a ton of Kzoo games this last season. Their opinion is, due to more younger players the game can be faster in the ECHL but do to lack of experience they make more mistakes. The vets in the IHL make less mistakes and are more skilled. They said "if push comes to shove" they would take the IHL because watching the vets makes the game more interesting but the difference isn't all that great.

Given a choice, younger players will play for less in the ECHL with hopes of getting noticed and maybe still make it to the show, at least for a season or two (in the ECHL). Understandable even though the odds are very slim.

Any other opinions, especially from someone who has seen a lot of games in both leagues? I'm interested in opinions based in experience, not just opinions.

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 11:28pm

Excellent post Steve! And without name calling as some should please note and strive to emulate.

I have watched multiple games in the ECHL, CHL, and AHL; but will discard my AHL opinion since that would be comparing apples to oranges, IMO... What you have pointed out in your post about speed vs. hockey saavy is spot on. The ECHL and CHL (since the CHL decided to become a feeder league) are much younger and faster and less likely to take shifts off. The play can be a lil sloppier and more helter skelter; but entertaining. I would say that the players are playing more for the name on thier back than the name on the front as most are still striving to make it to the next level.

The IHL with the larger vet limit is more hockey saavy, a lil slower and more methodical. Vets are more likely to take shifts or even games off; but they are playing more for the name on the front than the name on the back. Easier for fans to get to know and interact with players as they seem to stick around a lil longer (especially the vets).

Really, IMO, the hockey is comparable between the 3 AA league's and IMO isnt the core issue (for me at least) when discussing wanting something different. Stability is what I am after as a fan and that is something both the CHL and ECHL can provide right now... When I say stabile, I mean belonging to a league that has 13-18 teams like these leagues do and being able to go into the offseason not wondering if your league is going to fold. It would be great to only have to speculate who comes back and not if theres going to be a league to play in come October. I understand that minor league hockey as a whole is an unstable entity; but some have more stability than others.

I would have liked to have seen the Komets and whatever IHL teams they could bring along go to the ECHL. My reasonings for this is that there are already 3-5 teams within a decent geographic area to build a solid schedule from. I think the schedule we could have built with already established ECHL teams in the midwest is much more favorable than what we can get in the CHL. Also selfishly this would enable me to continue to travel several times a year to see away games. Thats gonna be harder in the CHL and much less often.

This is getting long, so I will stop here...lol

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 3:39am

I am enjoying reading ALL of these posts. Some very good points have and are being made. See we can get along even if some of us are only half way crazy! By that I mean "Hockey Crazy". Withdrawel will cause these very kind of problems. There is nothing going on that a good hockey game will not fix! That is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

The most intelligent poster is Burgee. You can talk to that animal.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 5:25am

Just on the "business" statement, I think JR hit on it. I believe there's a common misconception that the business owners are in charge of how people are going to spend their money and that the owners make people pay for their product and that's simply not the case. I'll go ahead and state the obvious, we can all think for ourselves, so the notion that "it is a business first, second and third", coupled with the implication of "take it or leave it and there's nothing you can do about", is total nonsense IMO. To the contraire, there is something you can do about it, quit spending your money on the product, case in point with the beer. The power is with the consumer, not the owner. IMO, I think some people's thinking is backwards.

"Fort Wayne was rated the "Best Place in the Country for Minor League Sports" in a 2007 issue of Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal." "...fickle Fort Wayne sports fans base?" I'd have to disagree with you on several points. No one knows the sports history, no one? Really? And then again with the STH thing, the notion that STH are no one important, is again nonsense IMO. Last I checked players had to do what the commisioner told them. But...I cordially agree to disagree.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 7:22am

LMAO... blog hits must have been getting low.. toss a turkey leg to the wolves and let them fight over it.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 7:36am

I equate it to boredom.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 10:47am

Does anyone know why the NHL doesn't have a minor league system like the MLB does? The MLB has the MiLB set up. Why can't the NHL do the same? It seems to be a lot more organized.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 1:38pm

"Also, not sure when everyone started to think Season Ticket Holders came to mean the same thing as Stock Holders, because they are not the same thing."

Blake, no one has mentioned season ticket holders and stock holders in the same breath, sentence, or whatever. If this is what you took from my comments then you took my statement so far out of context that a reasonable discussion would be impossible.

The league meetings are now over. On another site it has been reported that the specific items I have questions about have not yet been determined. Still at the same time the STH are looking at a July 31st deadline. It isn't a league deadline, it is a Komet deadline. Some of us put a lot of money toward this and are curious. I can't believe that I am the only one that feels this way. Forgive me, but I'd kind of like to know what I'm buying.

Maybe it would be better if the Komets extended their date until everything is a little more clear.

Concern shouldn't be confused as criticism. Apathy shouldn't be rewarded by accident.

For fans, hockey is entertainment. Some fans attend games because they love hockey. Some fans attend because they love the Komets. Others attend because of the non-hockey entertainment and some attend because it's simply something to do.

For the Franke's hockey is their business. Their genius and success comes from the fact that they have married all these reasons into an "experience". The trick is to get people to come to a game for the first time. When they do it is easier to get them to come back, and back, and back.

Remember that hockey was at an all time low here in Fort Wayne as Welker moved the franchise to Albany, N.Y. The Franke's came in, established "family areas" and promised "old time Komet hockey". Both were things that Komet fans hungered for. Things took off and they never stopped trying "to give the fans the things they want".

Not so terribly confusing as a business plan, is it?

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 2:24pm

Not at all. But with business comes trends, and paying attention to trends is important. "Old time Komet hockey" was good in the "day", but I think that ship has sailed. It's 2010 and the game is speeding up. Case in point, Chicago - youg, fast, athletic. People coming to these Komet games are getting younger and they like to watch speed. That's what made a player like Shrock fun to watch to according to several people. Again, I think the Frankes and the IHL realize this and that's why they "reached out" to the "younger" CHL.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 2:53pm

Rob, my point was at one time it was important. I never meant that things don't change. Yep, trends change and the owner needs to be in touch with the changing times.

Again, "give the people what they want."

Silly Season
Fri, 06/25/2010 - 3:49pm

Cracks me up how some people think just because a player is young, he must not be any good. Ask any Kalamazoo fan what they think of ECHL hockey compared to IHL hockey.

Don't have the numbers for this past season, but during the 2008-09 season, 315 different ECHL players were called-up to the AHL, or an average of close to 14 different players per team. 8 different players played in both the ECHL and NHL that season. By the way, the CHL only had a total of 22 different players called-up to the AHL, or an average of 1 per team.

The AHL and NHL must see something in all these young ECHL players for them to call them up all the time. 33 former ECHL players were on the Calder Cup Finals teams (17 for Hershey and 16 for Texas). We are talking guys that played in the playoffs with those teams. That doesn't include other ECHL players that played with them during the regular season. In total, there were around 500 different current and former ECHL players that played in the AHL this past season.

78 former ECHL players were on NHL opening day rosters this past season. 35 more made their NHL debut after the season started. Throw in some others that weren't on NHL opening day rosters and had already made their NHL debut before, and you are talking 140-150 former ECHL players that played in the NHL this past season.

In the old days, most players assigned to ECHL teams were late round draft picks or guys that NHL teams have given up on. It's not that way anymore. There are lots of 1st and 2nd round draft picks being sent down to the ECHL now. Since the NHL got the salary cap, more and more NHL teams are now looking to build through the minors. There's not enough room on AHL rosters for all these NHL contract players, especially those AHL teams that sign a good bit of their own AHl contracted players.

I wish the Komets could join the ECHL. I think you fans would love the hockey there.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 4:11pm

JR, thanks for the reply. I like your definition for "stability" as you've qualified it, and agree.

I too have had people ask me about the future of the Komets and the move/blending/whatever with the CHL in unusual places (ref another post by you). A couple of complete strangers brought it up at Germanfest when they noticed my Komet polo. One was a regular attendee but not STH and the other attends a few games a year.

A few others at my favorite hangout who don't follow hockey but know I do and the situation is in the press. They have all been positive about it because of the opportunity to play more teams.

I too would rather have seen us going into the ECHL (since the AHL isn't going to happen any time soon) for pretty much the same reasons although I also understand and respect the reasons for not doing so. The ECHL wants the Komets, it's a move they can make anytime they want, so it could still happen after the two year "let's live together instead of getting married for now" expires.

And of course there are other possibilities down the road including re-alignment and ECHL teams jumping ship to be more regionalized.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 4:34pm

I am going to donate $1 to an animal charity in Honor of Snuffy

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 6:18pm

I miss guys like Watson-Tidball-Wagner-Parsons-Mirasty-Sgroi :( I LIKE FIGHTS-FIGHTS-FIGHTS :)

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 6:21pm

Rob, I think there are probably several reasons why the NHL doesn't organize a completely structured farm system like baseball has.

For one thing they already have it, sort of. The Junior system in Canada combined with it's weaker sister (but definitely getting stronger) the college system. Most players still go from one or the other straight to the NHL or the AHL. The weaker ones go elsewhere, many times on their own hoping to get picked up.

Also compare how many MLB teams there are to how many NHL teams, then consider the size of their rosters. MLB needs more people all the way around so a developmental system from high school up makes more sense.

Back in the later years of the old IHL the NHL split it's AAA affiliations between two leagues. Sometimes they even split their players between two AAA teams moving them back and forth. Ian Boyce comes to mind as an example. In other words there were more what could be considered AAA level teams then there were NHL teams. AAA hockey was exciting not only because of prospects being developed but also because of veterans on teams (sound familiar?). Both the AHL and IHL had career players who would never move up but could make a good living in these leagues.

Things are different now, there are fewer AAA level teams (what, one per?). There are probably more then one reason why but economics has to be the major one. And due to economics why would the NHL want to end up paying salaries through two or three layers of minors when, as far as they're concerned, the current system works just fine for their needs?

It would be great to see a structured system similar to baseball but I don't know that we will ever see it, it just isn't needed as much in hockey as it is in baseball. Same for basketball and football.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 6:39pm

Silly Season-thank you for your response and the numbers you've posted, it helps. Do you know how many players in the ECHL are property of NHL teams and are having their salary, in full or part, paid by the parent NHL club. Not AHL, but NHL?

This supports what I've heard from a couple of players on Kzoo's team, they could make more money in the IHL but they may get looked at in the ECHL so they're willing to play for less for a season or two in order to maybe get a chance. I have to agree that for now their odds of getting looked at by scouts are higher in the ECHL.

I'm still not convinced 100% that the skill level is higher in the ECHL because again it is the vets that have the most skill, and I'm basing my opinion on opinions of both knowledgeable fans experienced with both leagues and some players experienced in both leagues, but it does sort of push things in that direction. :-)

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 6:42pm

I'll see Burgee's buck and kick in another....

Blueline Baby
Fri, 06/25/2010 - 7:02pm

Wait....is mightbite the animal we are supporting, or is it Jungle Monkey? ;)

Silly Season
Fri, 06/25/2010 - 7:18pm

Steve, don't have all the numbers from this past season, but do have numbers from the 2008-09 season.

108 players were on NHL contracts in the ECHL in 2008-09 and 112 players were on AHL contracts in the ECHL in 2008-09. Any NHL or AHL contracted player only counts $525 towards the salary cap no matter how much they are being paid by the NHL or AHL club.

As far as vets go, there's only a 4 vet difference between the ECHL and IHL, although, goalies don't count in the ECHL. So when looking at vets, don't look at the top 4 vets on a IHL team, look at vets 5-8. I guarantee you most would not be able to compete in the ECHL. I have talked to a few big time vets lately that have played a long time in the ECHL. One of the first things they always say is how it's getting so much harder to keep up with the speed of the new ECHL. They seee a big difference in play since they came into the league.

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 8:10pm

Long time reader first time poster (sorta, Right Mr. Sebring?) I have been going to hockey games for a long... LONG time and I have seen ECHL games and I still stick to my guns that there is NOTHING to write home about with regard to the ECHL. It's fast and chaotic at best, it's more about the "I" in Team than anything. I have a friend with season tickets for K-zoo and even he agrees that he misses the style of hockey the IHL offered. I see a lot of people upset with the choices the Franke's have made when it comes to operating of their sports team. I tend to agree with exactly what Blake posted and (hates to admit this) I also agree with Hoss.

I really don't see how the "bar/drink" situation relates to a sporting franchise really. I mean, bars are open every day and need customers every day to hope to operate with a positive cash flow. Sporting teams operate on limited openings and the STH. Best example is when they offered those reduced prices on the Wild Wednesday's for beverages hoping to draw more people. I don't know about most of you but I certainly didn't see how reducing the DRINK costs brought more people. Small business have to do what they can in order to maintain their business or it will sink and if that means reducing prices to draw more customers from other establishments then its a choice that can be made but it is still a gamble.

As far as anyone thinking that just because they are STH they are in some way entitled to information then I really have to disagree. I think the notion of customers of any business are in some way controlling any business is an illusion at best. Business owners offer a product, consumers either like it and purchase or don't like it and refrain from relinquishing their hard earned cash for something they are not interested or unhappy about. If they are not bringing in the customer base they had hoped then it's up to the owner to change what they are doing to bring in said customers.

I am in no way dismissing any ones opinions of wanting to see ECHL or AHL hockey. The bottom line is pretty clear in my humble opinion. You can be happy about what is going on or you can be disappointed. If your happy then nothing more needs to be said but if your unhappy your left with a few choices. Take what is offered with a grain of salt or wash your hands of it and never look back. There are a lot more trivial things in life to worry about than whether or not you disagree with what some one else did because it doesn't follow your opinion. Your going to be disappointed in life for a LONG time if you get upset every time some one doesn't do what you think they should.

Last but not least, Blake you do an outstanding job passing out information and I think people really take for granted the service your providing here.