06 January 2013
I'm not going to lie and pretend I'm not going to follow the Avs, or watch the games. I love pro hockey and I've missed it. Watching the Cutthroats and Pioneers has been fun, and I will continue to support them, but I will admit that I am looking forward to watching the Avs again.
Not to belabor the obvious, but this agreement is suspiciously close to the PA's Dec. 6 proposal to which the NHL responded with a tantrum.— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) January 6, 2013
So I will not be throwing myself into the Avs wholeheartedly, especially financially. I'm doing what I call a "soft boycott". I will not be buying a 14 game pack, as I had in the past. Instead I will be buying my tickets on the cheap from StubHub, which kind of supports the Avs, but if I'm buying below face value kind of doesn't. My wife and I will make sure to buy our food & drinks before making it down to the game. Now seems like as good a time as any to give up $8 crappy beers, and overpriced stale pretzel cheese. No more Avalanche gear for me or my family. We have plenty, thanks. And most importantly; I will continue to attend DU and Denver Cutthroats games. During the lockout these organizations treated me well, and I'm not abandoning them just because the Avs have come back.
That said, I also know that the Avs were in no way a driver of this lockout, so I am prepared to eventually return some of my financial and emotional investment, once the wounds of this lockout heal. The amount of return depends on the Avs, to a large extent. I'm not just going to come back because the Avs are offering the privilege of letting me buy tickets again. If you're a Bruins, Flames, Wild, or other hard-line owner fan I guess you just will have to build up some cognitive dissonance. Let's face it, some cognitive dissonance is the only way to follow any of these teams at this point, so building up a little more than the rest of us shouldn't be a problem.
So here's what the Avs can do to get me to re-invest in them:
First: an apology to the fans. Not just by the NHL, but by the Avs themselves. Public Statement by Kroenke, Facebook, twitter. The whole 9 yards. Sure, this will seem like an insincere calculated PR ploy, but not apologizing is even worse. As Ryan Miller said today (courtesy of James Mirtle & Allan Maki at the Globe and Mail): “I know an apology doesn't make it all better, but it’s a place to start." Wise words the avs could follow there.
The second is to invest in the team. The team is starting to contend, and Avs fans have stayed away in part due to frusttration with ownerships investment in the team. No more "building from within" as an excuse for hugging the cap floor. The amount of building from within you can do is pretty much set. Next summer there will be a lot of really good players available via UFA due to the salary ap going down. The Avs will have cap space. They will have holes, and there will be players available to fill them. There's no excuses left for not investing. Zip, Zilch, None. This last offseason was an ok step in the right direction, but more could have been done. (i.e. a top pairing D instead of Zanon)
The third thing they need to do is to become more fan friendly. There have been many suggestions as to how they could do this in the past, most of them good ones. (They are, reportedly, but unconfirmed, getting a new HD Jumbotron so there's something.) Not shameless bare-minimum attempts at soothing things over due to the anger of the lockout (Thanks Fans, here's an extra T-shirt cannon per game) but an organizational shift away from being the least fan-friendly organization in the league. More transparency. More candid interviews, without being so candid as saying "Avs fans have been spoiled". Josh Kroenke: Any remaining Avs fans have now sat through two lockouts and some miserable seasons, including one with "Tyler Arnason #1 Center". Your organization is pretty spoiled to have any fans remaining.
For example you could lower ticket prices, especially for families. I know, crazy talk.
As a blogger I'd like to see them give bloggers who conduct themselves professionally credentials (Such as Cheryl at Mile High Hockey, and Ryan at Hockey on the Rocks) (Not me). The increased coverage would be nice as a fan. I also recognize that credentialing bloggers is something that the majority of fans could care less about. But it would lead to increased (mostly positive) coverage of the team, and let fans who do follow that stuff know the Avs are not in the stone ages when they come to the realities of the media landscape. (I mean, they probably still are, but it would be nice if they weren't)
I dont' fully expect all those to happen (I'd honestly not be surprised if none of them happen, given the Avs past, which would be terrible). But if the Avs take those steps, maybe someday I'll be a fully mostly invested fan again.