I recently read an opinion piece by Sportsnet contributor Michael Gardner that had me questioning my faith in humanity. Now I know the old adage; no one ever went broke betting on the stupidity of the human race, but really I thought people hired to professionally write for a major sports network might be somewhat above that. Apparently I was wrong. On the Halloween instalment of Fan Fuel, which you can read here: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/2011/10/31/fanfuel_jets_staying_power/ there is so much anti Winnipeg sentiment and Toronto cheerleading it really does make me question how something like this would get past any reasonably paid editor or fact checker.
Mr Gardners article is basically an attempt to breathe some life into the same old tired story that the Toronto based brain trust of writers loved to put out last winter. How can the lowly Oliver Twist of Canadian cities, Winnipeg possibly afford to join our exclusive NHL club? How would it ever be possible for them to compete with the shining light at the centre of the universe that is Toronto? Of course as we all know Winnipegers earned their place in the NHL club and they did it with a certain style and form that is not regularly seen in the NHL. So now Mr Gardner writes; Oh but how will the poor downtrodden unwashed hockey fans of Winnipeg ever stay in our club, it must be a temporary solution at best, merely a placeholder for when the team can move east to the glowing paragon of opportunity that is southern Ontario.
Are you kidding me?
In his article Mr Gardner also dredges up the old Gretzkian argument of no corporate support. Really? I thought we put that to bed when corporations started to line up and go on waiting lists to buy suites at six figures a year. But wait Mr Gardner cautions, US lawmakers may pass tax legislation barring “entertainment as an inducement”, surely now corporations will flee from Winnipeg like a Wall Street protester from a riot cop. Whatever will Winnipeg do?
Again, are you kidding me?
First of all Mr. Gardner needs to figure out just what legislation he is talking about because from what I ‘ve seen any mention of barring entertainment induced tax write offs is fringe at best. I mean really has Mr. Gardner ever done business in the US? The whole corporate machine is greased with entertainment induced tax write offs. There is no way that anyone who has benefited from a night out on the corporate expense account (which is almost anyone in business or politics) is ever going to support such a measure. Even if, by some puritanical miracle, legislation that forbade using a hockey ticket as corporate write off became illegal would that wipe out the fan base over night? Oh wait in Toronto it might. Of course this is all complete hogwash because Mr. Gardner cannot fathom the fact that US law has no jurisdiction in Canada, and yes I am quite certain that CRA will never pass a measure that outlaws giving away a hockey ticket to a client and writing it off. If that ever happens we might as well move because that place isn’t Canada anymore.
Mr. Gardner, as he copies and pastes his article from the year 2010, also dusts off the old naysayer standby of ticket price. It seems unthinkable to him that 15,000 people in Winnipeg could possibly be in good enough financial standing to afford an NHL hockey ticket 41 times a year. Again the 8000 on the waiting list for the next five years may have an argument against that. The simple fact of the matter is that Winnipeg has succeeded beyond expectations, why is that so terribly hard for the eastern Canadian elitists to accept?
I’ve spent a lot of this blog refuting Mr. Gardener’s ridiculous column, but what really sticks in my craw is why are these pieces still being written? That is the real core issue that has me so incensed. Is there a secret cabal of anti Winnipeg conspirators that pulls the levers of power and forces media types to write this stuff? Do they secretly meet in a star chamber somewhere and plot the downfall of the Winnipeg Jets? I really don’t understand how Winnipeg back in the NHL is threatening to anyone, but somehow somewhere it must be. Does it somehow rattle the owners in New York, Chicago and LA when they have to put Winnipeg on the marquee? Or is it that allowing Winnipeg back into the league somehow invalidates the great southern experiment?
In any event I would like to reassure Mr. Gardner that “entertainment as an inducement” tax laws will remain as they always have, Winnipeg does indeed have an abundance of corporate support, and there are more than enough fans that can afford NHL ticket prices. Please Mr. Gardner sleep easy knowing that the freshly poured, deep foundation of the Winnipeg Jets has absoloutly no cracks in it. Now can we say the same thing about Phoenix, New Jersey, Dallas, and the Islanders?