Just when you think it's all over, something else pops up. To thank for that, we have CBC's Elliotte Friedman for revealing more issues in Tampa Bay than meets the eye. While the issues with OK Hockey have always been present, the fact the old owner doesn't want them; shows how much of an issue Tampa could become.
We set the scene with Gary frantically on the phone, pacing in front of the TV of the living room, as Jim sits on the couch, bobbing and weaving trying to see the TV.
Gary Bettman: But look, Mrs. Davidson, they won a championship under your husband's reign. Wouldn't you love to have that team back-- to remember the good times of his legacy?? Sure, Oren and Len kind of made a mess of it.....but....no, they aren't going to acquire Nathan Horton and have a "Seen Stamkos/Horton Hears A Who??" slogan-off.
Jim Balsillie: Slogan-off?? I'm starving!! Gary, we have any beef slogan-off in the kitchen??
GB: (covering the phone) That's beef stroganoff and I said no before. (back to the phone) Mrs. Davidson, I'll make sure it's taken care of before the 15th. Trust me, have I ever swayed anyone wrong before??
(Jim stares daggers at Gary and gives him the stink-eye)
GB: (avoiding eye-contact with Jim) I'll be back with you. Good bye. (hangs up, falls back onto the couch) MY GOD!! What was I thinking when I put those two guys in charge. You'd think with all those awful "Saw" movies and "Two and a Half Men" cash coming in, Koules would have the money to cover this team in everything they needed.
JB: Well, you know Gary-- that deadline is close to Valentine's Day and I'd love nothing more than for you to buy me a hockey team. I'd love you forever.
GB: Ick, that's the last thing I want. Don't worry-- we can make this work in Tampa. They have a Stanley Cup, we can't move a Stanley Cup winner. That'd just.....just be immoral and detrimental to the sport. We can't be a laughingstock in this landscape.
JB: Well, can't be the laughingstock when no one is paying attention, that's for sure. But at what point did you think this would be a good idea to give it to these guys?? I mean, you look at what they had to offer and they were disjointed from the start. It was run worse than any fly-by-night pyramid scheme out there.
GB: Funny enough, they were still better than you in terms of getting the team. In fact, I don't think you made an effort of it all-- right??
JB: Of course not, the Davidson's weren't on my radar. But, you look at the demographic and it's almost like this Phoenix mess. What happens if you own this team, too?? Why not just contract the teams and you'll get down to 28 teams, seven per division, then we bring back divisional playoffs-- as was always intended.
GB: That's just silly, I put a stop to that because it's unnatural. Fact of the matter is that these two teams can be profitable if I can find the right ownership. At least Koules put something out there and tried, but went a bit over the top and really didn't have a grasp about how a team should be run. Hell, you could have run that team better.
JB: Well, why not throw myself in the mix for this one?? This is something where I could just take a bad product, do some slight improvements, still not have the fans come out because it's a bit too hot.....then we move to my backyard and I can wake up to the practice everyday. We all win because not only do I get a team into Canada, but you'll get a stable franchise once all is said and done, as well as one less headache in the mix.
GB: If you're going to make improvements, why not build a fan-base there and try to convince these people that this is their team?? You can grow the brand of the team by that.
JB: Yes, because they really capitalized off the Stanley Cup and the "Seen Stamkos" campaign. Hell, the even brought back Barry Melrose to see if that'd garner some attention-- and it really didn't. Every gimmick didn't work as many would have thought and it's time for a change. You look at the other Florida team-- they're having issues as well, so why would it work for one team and not the other?? Sure, an interstate separates them, but at the same time-- it's virtually the same market demographic and it's probably not going to work in either.
GB: Guh, I don't need to think about Miami right now unless we're going on vacation. But, they're a former Cup winner and do have a loyal fanbase-- it's not like they haven't succeeded on some gimmicks-- remember when they had the big crowds at the Thunderdome??
JB: Don't even get me started on that-- here's a team who has had issue with ownership from day one with Phil Esposito's group. It's a mismanaged group and probably won't get the correct owner for the gig and the publicity they need to thrive in a place like Tampa Bay. Tampa as a whole is really apathetic to sports-- look at when the Buccaneers won the Lombardi Trophy; hardly anyone came out!! They also didn't come out for the Rays when they went to the World Series!! What does that tell you about a city when they won't come out for their championship teams. I think the only reason they came out for the Stanley Cup is because of the cold conditions in the rink, mostly due to Tampa being too hot to be a real city.
GB: I'll give you the point about mismanaged ownership and what-not, but they did come out and that's really what matters in the end for me. As long as people are coming out, they should be able to sustain something of a fan-base to keep the team going on and be loyal enough to fight your attempts to move this team to Chateau Balsillie.
JB: Fine, we'll just have to agree to disagree. (looks at watch) Holy, we're late for dinner reservations. If we don't get there in time, we'll be limited to the salad and breaksticks we get with the meal. Grab my coat, I need to get my wallet.
GB: (gets up, walks to closest) You'll be needing that wallet plus a couple more in order to convince me that you're going to be a contender for this team. (opens closet)
Judge Redfield T. Baum: (throws coats at Gary) T-BOMBED!!!
GB: OH SWEET LORD!! (falls backwards)
JB: (walking to Gary on the ground) These running gags are fantastic, aren't they??