Friday, October 01, 2004

Only a flesh wound!

We’ve said it before and now we’ll say it again. The WHA has fast become a farce out of the script book of Monty Python . The latest out of the less than organized league is, that it is unlikely that we’ll be seeing any WHA teams on ice this year, but hey, check back later you never know we may just change our minds.

With a business plan that apparently didn’t have the texture of a soggy coffee shop napkin (which is probably where the idea of this thing came from) the fledgling league has admitted to some “start up” troubles. With Dallas pulling the plug on its franchise on Thursday, the frequently invisible front men for this league, issued another press release advising one and all of yet another press conference scheduled for Friday which will make clear their plans.

Co-owner Allan Howell refused to say anything further other than to promote Friday’s news conference, while in another galaxy in a world far away, the other co founder Nick Vaccarro said that he was working hard to find a “buyer” for the league and that the reports of the leagues demise were premature.

Like the knight of Python, we lop off an arm and it still wants to fight, chop of the leg and it still takes flight. Laugh along as we leave the eviscerated stump to howl at us from the distance. "We’ll bring you hockey, come back and see, you can’t hurt me, it’s just a flesh wound."

Since the league was first promoted earlier this year, they’ve rescinded a franchise in Quebec City, lost one in Dallas and have a fluctuating number of remaining franchises which have neither rink in which to sit, nor player to skate. An interesting if not surprising situation, considering it involves a sport suddenly flooded with out of work players and empty stadia,

Frankly if the powers that be in the WHA couldn’t get this thing off the ground this fall, then it’s never going to fly. They will never have a better window of opportunity than right now with the NHL involved in what will no doubt be a long, ugly war with its players. The fact that no one has the confidence (let alone any money) in the concept of the WHA should be more than enough evidence to abandon the idea for good.

Rather than throw their lot in with an unknown entity such as the WHA, many of the available hockey talent pool packed their bags and went to Europe. Others have trotted over to the OSHL travelling side show, though it, like the WHA would appear to have a limited shelf life. With fans there rebelling at the price of 60 dollars a seat to watch tier two NHLers play shinny.

Imagine the ticket sales for a WHA team stocked with fourth liners from Anaheim, Phoenix and Carolina to name a few. But then, even the fourth liners took a pass on the WHA. This could be the first league in history to hold a draft and not sign one player chosen over two days. Despite their grand pronouncements about making hockey more exciting and giving the fan value for money, we instead have been treated to a lesson in how not to do business.

Perhaps the only one kicking himself is Sidney Crosby the young junior hockey phenom. Back in the days when the WHA was still attracting semi serious attention, they offered the youngster guaranteed millions to sign on the dotted line, cash up front yours to keep should the league not launch.

Judging by the developments of the last couple of days, easier money may never come that way again.

As for the WHA we can best sum up its fate with this: No players, No rinks, No Hope!

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