Hockey season at Sprint Center comes and goes

Manchester Monarchs 4

Bridgeport Sound Tigers 2

As hockey season at Sprint Center comes to a close.

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Ok, so I admit that is a bit of a smart ass subhead, but what have you come to expect from me?

Let me first start with my rambling random thoughts from tonight’s game. I’ll try to come up with a coherent post after I’ve put some more thought into it.

Here is my experience at Sprint Center tonight.
-Parked on McGee street about three blocks from Sprint Center FOR FREE!!! This is the great thing about living in KC. Walking three blocks is an inconvenience to most Midwesterners. Most would rather pay $10 than walk three blocks.
-Took my three block walk and hung around the P&L before the game, had a couple of beers, some wings and waited for my hockey watching buddies to join me. This made it 100% better than all those years I went to Blades and NHL preseason games at Kemper Arena. I was able to choose from a variety of bars, have a beer and walk to the game. It was great.
-Had a scalper try to sell me a ticket to the game for $40. He said face value was $60. I laughed and in the end paid considerably less than face, if it really was $60.
-Sprint Center is great. It looks great from the outside. It looks great on the inside. The concourses are wide. The concessions stands are well-run. The bathrooms are clean. However, I don’t quite understand the fascination with the QuikTrip inside the arena.

.

One concession stand will have a manageable line, maybe two or three people in front of you, and at the same time the QT will be PACKED. WTH? QuikTrip is good, but it isn’t in the same league as WaWa. If I were a bazillionaire, I would not just bring an AHL team to KC, but I’d also open a WaWa and blow QT’s doors off.
-The crowd was underwhelming. The upper deck was curtained off. The lower deck wasn’t full.

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-If we are to believe Tim Lieweke and/or Paul McGannon, which I don’t, and this was a showcase game for KC, then we didn’t show very well. In a Jim Baumbach Twitter post, Paul McGannon tries to spin tonight’s game by saying that part of the reason for low attendance was because Greinke was pitching tonight. That’s funny. I’d be willing to bet that the fact that the lowly Royals were playing the Red Sox, in the Sox only appearance in KC, had more to do with having fewer hockey fans than Greinke pitching. My guess would be that those native New Englanders who went to see their “Sawks” only appearance in KC are also hockey fans. But, silly me for thinking something so….logical.

The Royals had 21,228 at the game. If that number were 30,000+ I would say that affected hockey attendance. 21,228? No.

-This was strictly an AHL game. Seriously. I haven’t counted them up. I’ll spend some more time doing that later. However, of the 36 players that dressed for tonight’s game, I’m going to guess that 50% of them were AHLers.

Random thoughts on the game.

-Jonathan Quick played goalie all 60 minutes for the Kings. This guy is really, really good. I was impressed with him last year and I’m even more impressed this year. The Kings have a true #1 goaltender and Team USA has a future #1 keeper. Seriously, I think he could be Ryan Miller good someday.

-No Anze Kopitar for the second year in a row. If AEG is trying to promote Sprint Center, wouldn’t you think they would get their franchise’s best player to play in at least one of the two preseason games inKC?

-No Jack Johnson. He was hurt last year, so I get not seeing him then. But, I was severely disappointed he didn’t play this year.

-No Dustin Brown. Shit. I like watching him play in the late night NHL Center Ice game.

-Drew Doughty is still 19. He certainly doesn’t play like it. He’s a future All-Star.

-I’d put Trevor Lewis at center on an NHL team before I’d put any of those stiffs the Islanders tried to pass off as centreman.

-I like Wayne Simmonds. I liked him in last year’s game, too. He had a Gordie Howe hattrick. Two goals and a fight (a fight he won).

-The PA announcer called Teddy Purcell “Terry” when announcing the starting lineups. First, if AEG ever puts on another NHL game in KC they better hire Steve Bell (Garrett) to be the PA announcer. I’m sorry, hockey in KC isn’t hockey in KC without Steve Bell saying “Are you ready for hockey tonight?”. Second, Teddy Purcell impressed me, too. I really like him. His versatility was especially interesting considering he scored while playing the point on the powerplay.

-The Islanders played one guy that impressed me. Josh Bailey. That’s all. The rest of those guys were journeymen.

-The KC hockey crowd gets it. They cheer at the right time. They were engaged in the game as much as they could be considering the team the Islanders had on the ice, well, sucked. If tonight’s game featured a “hometown” team like the Blues or the Blackhawks or the Wild or maybe even the Stars or Avalanche, the crowd would have been bigger and a bit more engaged.

The funniest thing that I read was that the Islanders were playing in front of 10,000, which should have made them feel right at home. Well, not these guys. They played in front of about as big a crowd as they are going to see in Bridgeport.

Finally, I love Sprint Center. I loved hanging out downtown before and after the game and seeing hockey live.

However, I can’t “keep the faith” as noted in a comment to another post.

I can’t keep something that I don’t have. I simply do not believe that a NHL team will ever come to KC. As Jim Baumbach noted on a Twitter post, KC responded tonight with a giant collective yawn.

This town may “deserve the best”, but the best we can expect to have in this town is the American Hockey League. I don’t see any reason why we can’t have an AHL team playing in Sprint Center while we wait for this quixotic pipedream of a NHL team to come true.

We saw an AHL game tonight. You think the hockey fans in KC are complaining?

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7 Responses to Hockey season at Sprint Center comes and goes

  1. hockeyinkc says:

    This game was a farce. Two regionally irrelevant teams, ZERO advertising for the game, awful game production. Its a miracle it even drew over 5,000. Great crowd though. The last minute of the game was great, most of the crowd on its feet, realizing that they could see exciting NHL overtime. I’ll agree with Paul McGannon in the fact that we have a very intelligent fanbase here. You could make the argument that people are tired of being jerked around by the NHL and AEG, and that is why the attendance was less than years past. I was happy to see that LA brought most of its pro roster. They have some very exciting young players. If they had a young impact player like Kane or Kessel, they might be this years version of the 09 Blackhawks.

    Heard several rumors tonight from reliable sources that next year’s game is going to feature very prominent NHL teams, that is unless we have one of our own teams playing there. Which I’m starting to doubt. But if AEG or NHL21 brings in a powerhouse like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago or the Rangers to face the Blues, I would hope KC sells out that game. A Canadian team would draw well too, but I doubt they would take a game away from a Canadian market.

    On to the game. Jonny Quick looked spectacular in nets for LA tonight. I would like to see him beat out Timmy Thomas for the starting job in the Olympics. Drew Daughty has me thinking the next version of Mike Green or a young Brian Campbell when he came up w/ Buffalo. Kings are an up and coming team. Fun to watch.

  2. hockeyinkc says:

    Another thing hockey fans need to be worried about is the fact that the NBA game coming up in less than a month is going to feature a combination of Mario Chalmers, Michael Beasley and Dwayne Wade.

    If that game doesn’t sell out, then it is quite obvious that there is little to no interest in the NBA in this town.

    If it does sell out, then talk of an NBA team may start coming up. Even though David Stern has repeatedly said he does not want a team in KC.

  3. Jim says:

    As a hockey fan, I went to the game and am split on my feelings. The positives were:
    1. The huge positive was the fact I was watching an NHL game from the 6th row after buying a ticket cheap on the street.
    2. Sprint center is great. Clean, easy to get to, no bad seats in the house.
    3. Great to be around other hockey fans. Where are all of the hockey jerseys the rest of the year????
    The negatives were:
    1. It was an “NHL” game with AHL players. Since the last hockey I watched was the Stanley Cup Finals, I was expecting a higher level of play. The passing was horrible and it looked like the type of hockey we will be watching in Independence with the Mustangs.
    2. Fans were not excited about the game as much as the fights. Really showed a lack of hockey knowledge and I thought made the fan base look minor league.
    3. Fights, fights, and more fights. I have never seen that many fights in an NHL game. Most of the time over nothing. I could not decide if some were staged to get the crowd excited, which is sad, or just because we had a bunch of minor leaguers out there playing their last NHL preseason game prior to getting cut. I was waiting for the Hanson brothers to come out and start a fight.
    Final Thoughts:
    1. To be successful, next year have the Blues, Blackhawks, Red Wings, or Avalanche. Then we would see a crowd.
    2. My suggestion to the NHL would be to hold a REGULAR SEASON GAME between the Blues and Avalanche in the Sprint center. It would be a sellout, increase hockey fans in KC, expand their product, and test the real hockey environment. KC is in between Denver and St. Louis and would be a great one game a year tradition.
    3. Next year, advertise the game a little. I did not hear one promo on sports radio for the game.

  4. Kevin says:

    I am sick of people complaining about fights in hockey. If you don’t like it, then don’t go to the game. Hockey is a part of the sport and the fans love it.

  5. just a fan says:

    My observations of the game last night:

    -KC hockey fans are very knowledgeable. Not just a bunch of rednecks out to see a fight. The crowd had no real reason to cheer for any team. Crowd noise for goals was probably about the same if not louder than fights, goal horn drowned the noise out.
    -Sprint Center’s goal horn is awful. If its going to be loud make sure its awesome. Bland, monotonous, no soul.
    -The Kings, from what I could see from their 2nd-6th lines, is that they are a good team. Jon Quick is one hell of a goalie. Most likely destined for the playoffs if Jack Johnson and Kopitar can stay healthy.
    -Islanders (sans Tavares) are a mess.
    -Sprint Center game presentation was horrible. I liked how last year they had brought LA’s organist to the game. This year, just mp3s. No live organ, the first 10 minutes of the period had no offplay music, which made it awkward in between plays.
    -9,000+ for the game is NOT a reflection of KC’s unwillingness to support the NHL, it is a reflection of how poorly AEG advertised for this game around the region. You can’t discount the fans or the market for that. AEG did not do a single bit of advertising until 2 weeks prior except for a 5 second flash on their outdoor billboard in front of Sprint Center. The reason NHL21 saw so much success with their games in an old, dumpy Kemper Arena was because they ADVERTISED from day one. You couldn’t go anywhere in KC from 2002-2006 without seeing a billboard or TV ad for an upcoming game. AEG did nothing. I know you don’t like NHL21, for whatever reason that may be, but they have done a much better job promoting the sport than AEG has done over the past 2 years. NHL21 did a tremendous job with their first game, which sold out and drew 17,500+ in 2003, had sold over 10,000 tickets to a game that featured the Predators and Panthers that was never even played and sold 12,000 tickets for Blues/Preds in less than 2 months after the lockout. Meanwhile, AEG has struggled to fill a brand freaking new arena the past 2 years. You do the math. Paul McGannon and NHL21 did an amazing job promoting and rebuilding the sport from the late 90s until 2007. AEG has managed to ruin all that they built in just 2 years with 2 games.

    After 5 NHL exhibitions this decade, the score reads:
    Grassroots organization NHL21- 3, multinational corporation AEG- 0

  6. admin says:

    Getting an NHL team in KC:
    NHL21 – 0
    AEG – 0

    See, we can do math too. ;-)

    However, the fact of the matter is that there is no ownership group, public or private, that is doing anything to bring an NHL team to KC. Expansion isn’t going to happen any time soon, and the Coyotes are a huge long shot.

    Don’t misunderstand, we love hockey, we play hockey, we live hockey. Nothing could be better than professional hockey in KC. AHL, which you know is AAA level hockey would be great, you can see real NHL caliber players for a reasonable ticket. But NHL21 and AEG appear stuck on NHL or nothing.

    But until someone with a big checkbook gets involved, it doesn’t matter how many exhibition games are held here. Pre-season games will not create buzz for an NHL team.

  7. NHLinKC says:

    “However, the fact of the matter is that there is no ownership group, public or private, that is doing anything to bring an NHL team to KC. Expansion isn’t going to happen any time soon, and the Coyotes are a huge long shot.”

    Do you know for a fact that there is not an ownership group waiting in the wings, waiting for the right time? I don’t think there is, but you can’t say something that isn’t true. It is in my experience that rich people don’t like to talk about their money publicly.

    “Don’t misunderstand, we love hockey, we play hockey, we live hockey. Nothing could be better than professional hockey in KC. AHL, which you know is AAA level hockey would be great, you can see real NHL caliber players for a reasonable ticket. But NHL21 and AEG appear stuck on NHL or nothing.”

    Is this so wrong? KC is a major league market. Settling for an AHL team would put this city even further away from getting an NHL team. If a “good” NHL team was located in KC, I have no doubts that it would succeed. Because 50% of the teams in the NHL are “good”.

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