Wang to sell Islanders, Kansas City was never an option

Islanders fans are rejoicing as word is that 69-year old Charles Wang is considering selling the franchise. Of course, reports are that he wants $300M for the team. That would be $100M for every playoff win since 2004.

The Hockey News has two interesting articles about this sale. One is an account of how Islanders fans feel about Charls Wang.
Prospect of Wang selling Isles is a dream come true – and a nightmare ended – for their fans

The other makes a ridiculous statement about Wang’s flirtation with Kansas City, which was never serious.

Islanders will be a very tough sell for Charles Wang

Why wasn’t is flirtation serious? I will give you 12 million reasons why it wasn’t serious. The Islanders local cable TV contract is worth $20M/year. What could a team get in Kansas City? $2M/year, maybe? The Royals get $20M/year from Fox Sports. That’s for about 150 games. At most, an NHL team would get 33% of that figure. I guess an NHL team could top out at about $8M/year in KC. If a franchise relocation from Long Island (Brooklyn is still on the Island, by the way) to Kansas City, how would the franchise make up that $12M/year gap? And, that’s not even taking into account the radio contract.

An important point in Campbell’s story, aside from his silly mention of Kansas City.

Our industry insider suggests the only way an NHL team can make money now is to have ownership, or at least management control, over the building. The Islanders have neither and though the team will receive an unspecified annual payment from the arena as part of the lease deal they won’t get much, if anything, in the way of concessions and with it being Brooklyn, there isn’t much to be made in the way of parking revenues. And when Katy Perry and Walking With Dinosaurs have the Barclays Center booked, the Islanders don’t see a penny of that revenue, nor do they get any of the reported $20 million per year in naming rights.

ONLY WAY NHL TEAM CAN MAKE MONEY NOW IS TO HAVE OWNERSHIP OVER THE BUILDING. Did you get that? This is way an NHL (or NBA) team in Sprint Center has NOTHING to do with whether this is a “hockey town” or a “basketball town”. An NHL team in Sprint Center wouldn’t make money from Katy Perry or Justin Timberlake or Pearl Jam concerts either.

Now if Wang had, say, taken the Islanders to Kansas City and worked out a deal with the Sprint Center, things might be different. There the Islanders would be able to dictate terms of their arrangement with the Sprint Center that they simply don’t have the power to do with Barclays.

Nope. Sorry, Ken, but this is wrong. The Islanders (or any team) would not be able to dictate terms. Or, at least we don’t know that. Interesting how the city keeps these things completely private from the public who passed the hotel/rental car tax to fund the arena.

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What Kansas City not being mentioned in Toronto story about NHL expansion is really about

So, it happens every few years or so. NHL expansion talk heats up. It took a backseat last year because the NHL was struggling with labor peace. Then, when the 8-year CBA was finally ratified and divisions realigned, expansion talk began again.

And, now, that expansion talk centers around Seattle (and a few other markets that really don’t add much to the NHL’s footprint.)

I’m going to write a series of blog posts to share my thoughts around NHL expansion and how it may relate to Kansas City. I’m going to start with the Pitch’s recent blog post referencing David Shoalts’ article in the Toronto Globe & Mail. The Pitch accurately reported that Shoalts wrote a story about NHL expansion and how Kansas City was not mentioned. However, Mr. Shoalts also appeared on the Marek V Wyshynski podcast. The long form interview of a podcast better reflected his conversation with NHL brass. Basically, the NHL is at least five years away from expansion. Seattle is definitely in play. However, the other markets who may be in play come and go rather quickly. The fact that Kansas City wasn’t mentioned was significant — for now. Kansas City has been in favor, fallen out, and may very well be in favor again in the future as Shoalts says gaining NHL Supreme Overlord Gary Bettman’s favor is rather fluid.

What bothered me most is the comments on Facebook to the Pitch’s story. It made me realize that people really are morons. The idiotic posts are exactly the reason why Kansas City is in this position in the first place. Tim Lieweke and Kay Barnes (mostly Tim Lieweke) knew he could pull the wool over dem rubes in Kansas City by throwing out promises suggestions that if Kansas City built a first nearly first class arena that the city could attract an NHL or NBA franchise. This was never, ever true. Yet, the lightly informed masses bought into it hook, line and sinker, including the local media, and paraded to the polls for the hotel/rental car tax to pass, without opposition. Just like the lightly informed masses now make comments like “Kansas City isn’t a hockey town” and they make these comments without opposition…again. No one in the sports media is going to say, “Yes, we are a hockey town. Yes, we’re a basketball town, too. We could be either.” like they should. Instead members of the media have to cater to simpletons, so they are going to continue with this ridiculous NHL vs NBA discussion.

Look people, IT’S NOT ABOUT WHETHER KANSAS CITY IS A HOCKEY (OR BASKETBALL) TOWN. Read that again and get it through your heads. It is not about whether Kansas City is an NHL (or NBA) town.

Here’s what this situation is NOT about:
-Whether Kansas City is an NHL town
-Whether Kansas City is an NBA town
-Whether Sprint Center operates at a profit

Here’s what this situation IS about:
-No owner has ever been identified (oops, there was Boots…how does it feel to have the wool pulled over your eyes Mr. Lieweke?)
-AEG doesn’t want to share revenue with a NHL (or NBA) franchise owner in a building in which they have complete, unfettered control and have to answer to no one.
-No NHL (or NBA) franchise owner is going to want to put an expansion team or relocate a team to a building in which they do not control all (or a significant portion of) non-hockey (or basketball)-related revenue. What does that mean? The Nashville Predators owners MAKE MONEY every time there is a concert in Bridgestone Arena. The Boston Bruins owners MAKE MONEY every time there is a concert in TD Bank Garden. I could go on and on and on with examples like these.
-AEG is actively pursuing an arena in a market with which Kansas City is, kind of, competing for an NHL or NBA franchise. A market that, unlike Kansas City, may have an owner for an NHL team — Las Vegas.
-Cordish is actively pursuing an arena in a market with which Kansas City is, kind of, competing for an NHL or NBA franchise. A market that, unlike Kansas City, may have an owner for an NHL team — Las Vegas.
-Kansas City-based sports architecture firms are lined up to build that arena in a market with which Kansas City is, kind of, competing for an NHL or NBA franchise.

The myth of what this is actually about is also perpetuated by a Mayor (who I like, Yael) who speaks in vague generalities like, “They say now isn’t a good time to pursue a franchise” when the Coyotes may have been ripe to move. Who the F is “They”? Who is this “they” that is advising you on the direction of an arena the voters approved? Say something! And, it’s perpetuated by a local newspaper who has only touched on AEG’s rouse and has never really systematically evaluated the history of relocated NHL franchises or taken an in-depth look at the current NHL franchises leases to see if one may (they won’t) relocate. Of course, they are about 10 years late on that in-depth story.

In 2006, the Pitch did address the story quite well.

In the end, this has NOTHING to do with the type of sports town we are — NFL, MLB, college, NASCAR, soccer, hockey, basketball — whatever. That isn’t the issue.

It has everything to do with the complacency of a building that is turning a profit while P&L continues to drain money from city coffers.

And before Yael Abouhalkah tweets that I hate Sprint Center, I’ll say I think Sprint Center is great. National acts are coming to Kansas City in 2014 like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Dave Mathews Band, Pearl Jam and Santana. It hosts preseason hockey and basketball games, well-attended college basketball games, some horse shows, Cirque and it’s the soon-to-be-permanent home to the Big XII tournament because we all saw how much the Texas schools give a shit about the Big XII tournament. Seriously, how many fans outside of the legacy Big 8 fans did you see a couple weeks ago?

You know what? With all these things, we should be OK with Sprint Center
(as long as you are OK with P&L losing money…)

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NHL polls fans about future cities – leaves KC off the list

The NHL sends surveys to its fans through the NHL Fan Face Off. Usually, they are pretty innocuous surveys. Questions like “Who is your favorite team?”, “What other teams do you follow?”, “How much interest would you say you have in these other leagues?” and the CFL, NFL, NBA, MLS, American college football and basketball are listed.

Recently, according to PuckDaddy readers, the NHL included a question about cities that do not have NHL franchises.
NHL polling fans on Seattle, Las Vegas as hockey cities

The cities listed:
Halifax
Las Vegas
San Diego
Seattle
Kitchener
Louisville
Hartford
Cincinnati
and, well, that’s it.

Kansas City didn’t make the list. Granted, the question wasn’t about which cities NHL fans think should be targets for expansion. The question was, “How likely are you to travel to visit each of the following cities in the next 12 months? The trip could be for personal or business reasons.” My guess is not a lot of people are traveling the Halifax for business. No knock on Halifax, I just don’t think there is probably the volume of business travel to Halifax as there is to, say, Seattle, Vegas, San Diego or here, to Kansas City.

I find it curious we were completely left off the list. As PuckDaddy mentions, he used to work in market research. Well, I did, too (many years ago before Al Gore invented the Internet and we had to actually call people). It seems to me the NHL is really just gauging interest in two cities and putting the other cities in there as plants. The choices were probably on a wheel. This particular person saw Halifax first. I bet the next person saw Vegas first.

According to readers, the follow up question was, “If you were in those cities, and if they had an NBA or NHL team, would you go and see a game there?” Again, the NBA isn’t going to Halifax or San Diego or Kitchener. They were surveying about Seattle and Vegas.

What does this say about Kansas City? Well, I’m not sure it says much. I don’t want to make the assumption that Kansas City was left off the list because we’re a lost cause — you know, because our Mayor said, “they” don’t think it’s a good idea right now…whoever “they” is.

I also don’t want to make the assumption that it means absolutely nothing. I think it’s bad that Kansas City wasn’t on this list. I think it’s bad the NHL doesn’t want to know if their fans travel to Kansas City for a business meeting with Sprint, Hallmark, H&R Block, American Century, Cerner, Populous, AECommSport, Black & Veatch or Burns & Mac. Or, whether their Midwestern NHL fans in Omaha or AHL-city Des Moines travel to KC for personal reasons (they do…go to Kelly’s today).

The other thing that is odd is that I take every NHL Fan Face Off survey and I didn’t get these questions. Perhaps only NHL fans in certain regions received these questions.

There certainly seems to be smoke around NHL expansion. From where the fire is coming is yet to be determined. I will say this:

I absolutely disagree that Las Vegas is a good market for an NHL team (or NBA or NFL or, heck, any major professional sports franchise). Sure, many people to travel to Vegas for vacation and for business. But, the thing about Vegas is that a large majority of the population does NOT work from 8 to 5. Hockey game at 7p on a Thursday? Well, probably 3 in 10 Vegas residents are working at 7 p.m. Combine that with Vegas being the #42 US Television market and you have a recipe for Florida Panther-like attendance.

Ahhh, the great irony, KC-based sports architecture companies are working with Vegas to design/build an NHL arena in order to attract an NHL or NBA franchise, which may cause Vegas to trump KC.

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Mark Cuban is wrong about D-League – the NHL does it better

I am the rarest of sports fans — a Kansas basketball fan who closely follows the NHL. With those strange characteristics, I have a unique view of how wrong the NBA’s age requirement is and how simple it is to fix.

I have enjoyed seeing Xavier Henry, Ben McLemore, Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid play. With the proper solution, these players could get drafted when they are 18 AND STILL PLAY NCAA BASKETBALL.

Mark Cuban’s arrogance has caused a myopia in which he can’t see past the system used in the league that shares an arena with his team. Cuban was recently quoted as saying.

“I think what will end up happening — and this is my opinion, not that of the league — is if the colleges don’t change from the one-and-done, we’ll go after the one,” Cuban said.

The article also mentioned that “Cuban’s biggest concern about one-and-done prospects is that they’re often not mentally, emotionally and psychologically prepared for the NBA after spending only one season in a college environment.”

They aren’t and it’s the NBA’s fault. The one-and-done is in place BECAUSE OF THE NBA not the other way around. Without the silly age limit, NCAA basketball has fewer one-and-dones because they may go straight to the NBA.

The NBA sets the pace for what the NCAA does. If Cuban honestly wanted to solve the problem, there is a simple solution and it’s not forcing a kid to go to Canton, Ohio and play in front of 1,700 people.

Take the NHL’s lead and adopt their system.

A 17-year old hockey player can look forward to having several options.

A hockey player is eligible for the draft as long as they reach 18 by September 15 of their draft year. If they are 18 by September 15, an NHL team may draft that player. Then, as long as the player doesn’t sign with an agent, or accept money, the hockey player has several options:
1.) Sign an NHL contract. They may make the NHL roster — like Sidney Crosby, Nathan McKinnon or, wait for it, Seth Jones, the son of one of Cuban’s former players. Or, they may go to the AHL. AHL attendance per game is about double NBADL attendance per game.
2.) Go to the NCAA. If the player hasn’t signed with an agent, they may play NCAA hockey after being drafted — like Jonathan Toews and T.J. Oshie who played at North Dakota or Chris Kreider who played at Boston College.
3.) Go to Europe and play (few do)
Granted, some NHL drafted players continue to play Junior Hockey in Canada. If a player plays Junior Hockey in Canada they are ineglible for the NCAA.

The process:
The NHL team drafts the 18-year old player. The 18-year old player decides to play NCAA hockey. The NHL team retains that player’s rights throughout his NCAA career. Then, once the player gives up his NCAA eligibility, he may sign an entry-level contract and immediately play in the NHL. Chris Kreider is a good example.

On June 26, 2009, Kreider was a 17-year old hockey player at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass, who wouldn’t turn 18 for two more months. The New York Rangers drafted the 17-year old with the ninth overall pick. Kreider is a power forward and his 18-year old body wasn’t ready for the role he would play in the NHL. So, Kreider didn’t sign with an agent and decided to play at Boston College. Kreider played three seasons at Boston College. In the Spring of 2012, Kreider led the Eagles to a National Championship. Right after the Eagles won the National Championship, Kreider declared he wasn’t going to return to BC, signed with the Rangers and played in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games, without playing a single minute in the regular season.

The NBA could easily adopt this system. Let’s look at some hypothetical examples.
PLAYER A – Turns 18 in February 2013 and is, therefore, eligible for the 2013 NBA draft. He’s a smart kid. His father is a former NBA player. He doesn’t need the automatic payday the NBA provides and could really use a year or two to fill out his 6’8″ frame. The player gets drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. He consciously doesn’t sign with an agent and decides to go to Kansas University. The NBA team that owns his rights agrees. He leads the 2013-2014 Jayhawks to a Final Four appearance. Once the season is over, PLAYER A declares that he is not going to return to KU and immediately joins his NBA team for the final 10 games of the season. The player gains strength, maturity and basketball knowledge playing for Bill Self and the NBA team still has his talent on the roster in 2013-2014 season and all of the 2014 off-season to help him with strength, conditioning and the counseling to which Cuban refers. Think this is far-fetched? Phil Kessel played one year of NCAA hockey. Think it helped or hurt his career?

PLAYER B — Turns 18 on September 30, 2012 and is, therefore, ineligible for the 2012 NBA draft. He has also graduated from high school. Quite a conundrum — can’t turn pro, can’t return to his high school. So, the player signs with Syracuse. He plays one year for Jim Boeheim and gains the experience of playing for Boeheim, in front of 20,000+ fans and plays in the NCAA tournament. Kid is a star. Yet, he’s still skinny and could add some bulk. Earlier in the season, he missed three games because of the grind of his first college basketball season. In the 2013 NBA draft, he’s selected #27. The NBA team really doesn’t need him to fill a role in 2013-2014. He doesn’t sign with an agent and decides to return to Syracuse for another season. After that season, he still doesn’t feel like he’s ready. He joins his NBA team in the Spring of 2015, after playing three seasons of NCAA basketball. Think this is farfetched? TJ Oshie played three seasons of NCAA hockey after getting drafted as an 18-year old. Think it helped or hurt his career?

PLAYER C — is ready for the NBA. His father also played in the NBA. As an 18-year old, he is drafted with the 13th overall pick and immediately traded. He goes straight to his NBA team and later wins five rings. Worked out OK for Kobe as it has worked out OK for Crosby, McKinnon, Jones and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The NBA just needs to follow the NHL model. If Cuban truly believes a player would be better served in the NBADL, then drop the age restriction, draft 18-year olds and send them to the NBADL. However, players would be even better served if the system allowed them to keep their NCAA eligibility and have the choice to play NBA, NBADL or experience college life and receive great coaching from some of the World’s best coaches.

Which player gets more prepared for the NBA? One that is coached by Bill Self or Jim Boeheim or Coach K or Lon Kruger or Tom Crean or any of the other great coaches in the NCAA and plays in front of 15,000+ fans? Or, one playing for Nevada Smith in Hidalgo, Texas?

NBA owners need to drop their arrogance and understand that the NHL owners have a better system — and HAVE FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.

Twitter @pucksinkc

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PucKChaser blog joins Twitter

You’re so two thousand and eight, I’m so two-thousand and late.

I decided I needed a Twitter machine. Since there really is no longer a controversy (emphasis on the 2nd syllable like the English say it) over whether Kansas City will have an NHL team, I decided most of my content could be covered in 140 characters or less. Plus, I can take a run at Flubber as having the snarkiest hockey comments from Kansas City.
Follow me @PucksinKC.

I’ll be tweeting “In Case You Missed It” tweets about my former blog posts — the cool kids call that ICYMI and making various hockey comments since I’m the only guy in Kansas City who actually buys NHL GameCenter Live (which, I love by the way — all games in HD as opposed to CenterIce on Time Warner, which only had a few games in HD).

Follow the Lost City of Bettman by following Flubber @FlubberMcGee. You can also follow his new blogger @Nutbush_LCOB.

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NHL preseason hockey returns to Kansas City — Dallas Stars v. St. Louis Blues September 27

Remember how a few years ago the Rangers and Avs were scheduled for a preseason game at Sprint Center. Those that schedule and promote hockey games in Kansas City finally got it right. A marquee franchise against a team in our (sort of) region. No more King-Predators or Kings-Islanders. Then, the NHL lockout happened and we lost the chance to see that game.

Now, those that schedule and promote these games got it right, again! Preseason games in Kansas City have to involve either the St. Louis Blues or the Chicago Blackhawks. They are the two franchises with the most fans in our fair city. As a matter of fact, I’d bet that if KC were home to either the Blues or the Blackhawks AAA minor league team, that Kansas City would rank in the top 10 of minor league hockey attendance (San Antonio is #10 at 6,000, KC is currently #17 at 5,300).

On September 27, the Stars and Blues will play a preseason game at Sprint Center and it’s not a stretch to think this game will draw 15,000 fans. Because of our geography, the Stars are probably one of the top five (or so) teams that local fans follow.

Buy tickets.
Go to the Blue Line hockey bar.
Have fun.

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Former Kansas City resident carries his country’s flag at Opening Ceremonies

Did you see the former Kansas City resident carrying his country’s flag at last night’s Opening Ceremonies?

Former Kansas City Blade Sandis Ozolinsh carried the Latvian flag last night.

http://blogs.denverpost.com/avs/files/2014/02/ozo-275x361.jpg

Proving two things
Sandis Ozolinsh is old.
When we had the Blades, I don’t know if we knew how good we had it. Wonderful hockey was played in the IHL and by the Blades.

Anyone who plays, is a fan of, or has children that play hockey owes an incredible debt of gratitude to Russ Parker and that franchise. Just look at the impact former Blades are having on the sport in Kansas City.

Gary Emmons, Jeff Madill and JF Quintin still coach youth hockey in Kansas City. Brett Cullaton just returned to Kansas City and is coaching youth hockey. Pat Ferschweiler brought a very successful Midget Major AA team to KC. He and Jason Herter parlayed their coaching experience in Kansas City to successful position in NCAA hockey and Major Junior hockey.

It’s too bad the Kansas City Sports Commission didn’t realize how important the Blades were to the city back in the early 2000s. It sure didn’t seem like they tried very hard to replace AAA level hockey — especially since the AHL added metropolises like Binghamton, Peoria and Abbotsford after the IHL folded.

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Alternate Plans for Kansas City’s Kemper Arena sound like, well, what I said

So, did you see the Business Journal’s story on the proposal for Kemper Arena?

Developer has plan for Kemper Arena; American Royal not interested

Steve Foutch confirmed Tuesday that Foutch Brothers plans to buy the West Bottoms arena, which largely fell out of use after the 2007 opening of Sprint Center. Once Kemper Arena is acquired, he said, the building will be converted into a regional hub for youth and amateur sporting events as well as a variety of fitness, education and healthy lifestyle activities.

I read this and thought, “Holy shit! That’s what I said.”

On March 27, 2012 in my post What of Kemper Arena? I wrote,

“Convert some of the parking lots to soccer/lacrosse/football/rugby fields. Do something similar to the Overland Park soccer complex. There are simply never enough fields for the soccer/lacrosse/football community. Maybe even a BMX track. Make it Disney Wide World of Sports for the Midwest.

Put the ice down inside Kemper Arena from December to May. Allow local youth and adult hockey teams to schedule games and practices at the facility. Put down curling circles and open it up to the figure skating community. I guarantee the ice time would be gobbled up in a hurry. Hale Arena also has pipes in the floor. Both buildings could have ice sheets, if needed.”

Then again, in June, in my post Kemper to be mothballed — no one is surprised, I wrote,
“All this is very sad. There is plenty of land around Kemper to use it for things that Kansas City needs. Kansas City could build one of the premier youth sports complexes in the country — hockey, soccer, lacrosse, football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, futsal all could be played in the arena and surrounding land. Install fields, courts and an inflatable dome (like in Roeland Park) so part of facilities could be used in the Winter. The bowl at Kemper could be used for hockey and for basketball and volleyball. Hell, even Omaha is thinking far more outside-of-the-box than Kansas City. They put a temporary pool in their basketball/hockey arena so they could host the Olympic Trials. Seeing other cities smaller, yet more progressive, than KC is frustrating. ”

Of course, the Foutch Brothers have no chance at their project. Fighting BOTAR? In Kansas City? Please. Even if Foutch Brothers idea is better, saves the City money and could, potentially produce more revenue, there is no way they win a fight with American Royal…no way.

The quote in Rob Roberts story that bothers me is from some guy at the American Royal who says, “Some of the estimates are as high as $100 million, just to keep it [Kemper] going until 2045.” Shocking. Did anyone honestly think Kemper would remain viable after Sprint Center opened?

You know what would make it viable? If UMKC had a hockey team…heck, if there is a proposal similar to one of my other posts, I may throw that out there again (and again, and again).

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Two Olympic Hockey Players with ties to Kansas City

In a few weeks, the puck will drop on the Olympic hockey tournament. The Olympic hockey tournament is one of the few times that the sport we love takes center stage.

Well, since the Lost City of Bettman blog called me out on my criticism that local park & rec departments are lazy when the weather is consistently below zero, I’ll call him out for overlooking an Olympic hockey player with ties to KC.

It’s wonderful that Missouri Mav Henrik Odegaard will represent Norway in the Olympic tournament.

When the IHL folded and the DeVos’ took their franchise with them, I thought the days of Kansas City professional hockey players playing in the Olympic games were over. Remember when Ville Peltonen, Viktor Kozlov, Jason Cirone, Sandis Ozolinsh and Arturs Irbe played in the 2006 Olympics?

Did you know there is one more player in the 2014 Olympic games with ties to Kansas City?

Viktor Tikhonov will suit up for Team Russia. Viktor is the son of the late Vasily Tikhonov, Blades coach in 1995-1996.

At the time, I believe Vasily was the first Russian to be head coach of a Major North American professional hockey club (he may be the only, admittedly, I haven’t followed AHL or ECHL coaches that closely). He did well and, from my own interactions with the players (yet fuzzy memory), I believe the players really liked him. I know I did. His English wasn’t perfect, but he was polite, respectful and thoughtful in his interviews.

Viktor would have only been seven years old at the time Vasily was coach. While I understand this is a rather obscure reference to a former Kansas Citian, I think it’s important to honor Vasily’s legacy as a former Blades coach — just as we may love to follow Paul MacLean with the Ottawa Senators. I’m sure guys who still live in the Kansas City area and played for Vasily, like Gary Emmons, JF Quintin and Jeff Madill, remember Vasily’s young son.

As far as Vahe Gregorian leaving Viktor out of his story on Odegaard – I appreciate the Star giving Odegaard and the Mavericks high profile attention, I really do. But to completely leave out any reference to Tikhonov shows, once again, there is very little research done at the Star — especially when they happen to do a story about hockey. There couldn’t have been one more line in the story? Here you go:

Former Kansas City Blades coach Vasily Tikhonov’s son, Viktor, will play for Team Russia.
Fourteen words, 86 characters. Heck, it could be a Twitter post. Is that too much to ask? I suppose so…

I, for one, have been rooting for Viktor since he was drafted. With his father, a member of hockey royalty in Russian, passing away last August at the very young age of 56, I hope Viktor has a long, successful hockey career. I also hope he remembers fondly the time his father was head coach in our fair, Midwestern city.

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Kansas City Ice Center provides some hope

OK, so I can admit I have a tendency to be negative on this blog. Well, why not? Not a lot good has happened to the hockey landscape in Kansas City over the years. I’d like to point out a one of the biggest positive developments in this area.

The full-size outdoor rink at Kansas City Ice Center — which they call the ice Pavilion. It’s outstanding. From the quality of the ice, to the thrill of playing outside to the fire pit in which to hang out and have a beer afterward, the Ice Pavilion hits it out of the park.

IMG_4139IMG_4111[1]

On a night when the parking lot at the former Ice Midwest is relatively empty, the parking lot at KCIC is brimming with cars as both rinks are going full speed.

You know, some things happen for a reason. The outdoor pavilion may have never been built if it weren’t for Ice Midwest closing.

So, while local municipalities won’t let you skate outside, even if the temperature has been well below freezing for nearly a week, you can still skate outside…kind of…and that’s a good thing.

And, we have the Mavericks, which is also a good thing. They really filled a niche that was desperately needed in this city. I used to send e-mails to the KC Sports Commission over and over again trying to get them to nab a dormant AHL team. They never did it. Independence and, eventually, the Mavs took advantage of KC snoozing at the wheel.

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