A typical super-fan's rendition of what should be done with the Southeast Division.
For anyone familiar with bulletin boards, talkbacks, and blog comment areas in the hockey universe, the opinion that Florida, Tampa, Washington - heck, the entire Southeast Division, needs to be folded or relocated is no revelation. Especially if you follow and support a team within that division. Or in Nashville. Or Phoenix. (And the Stars get a pass, um, why...?).
It's the same refrain, over and over, from fans in Toronto, and Detroit, and Montreal, and New York, and on and on.
The approximately one billion reasons presented for backing up their remarkably ignorant case run the gamut from "No one goes to the games", to "no one cares about hockey down there", to the gold standard: "There's no support."
It's just sooooo easy to sit up high in your glass arena and toss brickbats at the southern upstarts.
"I am a (Insert name of long-established, never-to-be-relocated, top 15 market team here:) _________ __________ fan who, drunk on my own sense of self-worth, wishes to feel mighty and justifiably superior to those who may "enjoy" the existence of an "organization" who can attract only second-tier talent in an "non-traditional" hockey market. It's so fantastically super-awesome to be a die-hard __________ __________ fan."
I've been a nut for this sport way too long to not notice the sea-change in attitude toward the SE Division. There's a developing "us-vs.-them" mentality brewing, and it's not healthy.
Then along comes Ross McKeon, Yahoo! Sports editor, with his suggestions for the fantastic daily "5 Ways I'd Change the NHL" feature at Puck Daddy.
A firestorm of controversy has erupted from the far corners of fandom in the aftermath. As a fan of the the Southeast Division, I'm used to the non-stop calls for contraction of our teams, but this is a bit much.
Apparently, Alex Ovechkin's financier Ted Leonsis agrees, and he's had enough:
"First, throw away the notion of shuttering six major league teams is just mean-spirited. Those six teams employ thousands and thousands of people and support tens of thousands of families. I guess Ross wants us to lay off all those people in the toughest economy ever. And those teams generate dollars for their cities in taxes and they generate dollars to hundreds and hundreds of small businesses as vendor/ suppliers. All of that would go away and the benefit and glow of a major sports team franchise would leave those cities marked as second rate for a long, long time."
A completely awesome and timely response from a successful owner within our division. By all means click the link above and enjoy a very frank and honest read. Go Ted!