Out of the Blue — Broken Promises Edition

Posted: October 7, 2011 by JoeyD in Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL

It’s been quite a while since my introduction blog to my Blue Jackets project for this upcoming season. Quite understandable considering there isn’t often a dearth of topics to opine over during an NHL offseason. Although I have intended to pen this around a week ago, getting caught up in our team previews provided all the ADD I needed to continue to put this off until now.

With the new Winnipeg Jets having to play one season in the Eastern Conference as part of their welcoming back into the NHL, there will be some degree of re-shuffling of the divisions and conferences for next season. The usual suspects for manuevering to the Eastern Conference all reside in the Central Division, The Blue Jackets, Red Wings, and Predators.  Red Wings owner Mike Illitch, who may be as influential as an owner gets outside of the Flyers’ Ed Snider, stated that Gary Bettman has ‘promised’ that the Red Wings would be the team to move east. Something that the league has denied, both publicly as well as to the Blue Jackets brass.

While there is sufficient logic for any of these teams to switch conferences, I feel that the most make sense choice is Columbus. And my reasoning, in a word, is ‘Parity’.

To me, parity goes beyond just level playing fields but also the economic viability of the franchises as well. Out of the three, the Blue Jackets can use the most help. The Jackets financial difficulties of the last few seasons have been well documented and discussed. And while the organization continues to make many adjustments and changes to help their bottom line out  a huge help would come from just the traveling cost alone with a switch to the East. I don’t know how often, if at all, that NHL teams will bus their team to the close by road games but those could be options to two road games to Pittsburgh and Buffalo per season and just general less frequent flyer miles would assist the Jackets financially the most in their current financial state.

Another financial aspect goes along with television revenues. The newest League-wide TV deal is going to provide a few extra million dollars per season for all the teams and would be welcomed in the Columbus coffers.  But even more potentially lucrative with a move to the East is the local TV revenues.  Admittedly through a very pedestrian effort, I have not yet found what the Jackets make with their FSOhio TV deal. However, regardless of what it is, a move to the East would be a potential comparative gold mine.

One of the largest hurdles in the whole Blue Jackets equation is approximately 30 percent of all their games begin 9pm EST or later. This makes it difficult for anyone not already hockey obsessed, and even those obsessed who just can’t stay up due to work or life commitments the next morning, to be passionate viewers of the team. The way I see it move the Jackets east -> more games played at times people can watch them -> higher local ratings -> more lucrative deals in both terms of money paid to the franchise as well as potential priority over Cavs games and HD availability.

While some may suggest that people do not watch as often when the team isn’t competitive, I personally see a television hockey market just waiting to be tapped. Ever since I seen the Columbus market ranked 10th in local ratings for US viewership for the most recent Winter Classic in Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, I realized this is a true market just waiting to burst.  This wasn’t 10th in US NHL local markets viewership, it was 10th total. Factor in the two teams in the game of Pittsburgh and Washington DC, add the fact that Baltimore and Richmond are their own MSAs that actually makes the Columbus area the 6th best US NHL market in that games viewership. They were only behind Buffalo (of course, undisputed US NHL TV market time and again for national broadcasts), St Louis, Denver, Boston, and Philadelphia. That was more NHL winter classic viewers from Columbus than ‘Hockeytown’ and the ‘State of Hockey’.

Not too shabby, and given favorable situations the Blue Jackets can more than just economically viable but also can become one of the shining examples in the NHL.

Until next time…LEO!

–No Penguins game to occupy me this evening so I will be viewing the Jackets season/home opener tonight. Looking forward to seeing what this new look Jackets look like in games that count.

–Hope any Jackets fans I know that will be in attendance have an absolute blast

–Reminder on le Twitterz I am @JoeyHurricane if you ever want to shoot the shizz

–And as always #ClitterForTwitter

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