I'd like to apologize for my lack of excitement about the news that Mike Modano is going to sign with the Red Wings on Thursday. It's just that... just that the news from last Friday that the Chicago Blackhawks lost money last season has been weighing heavily on my heart since then. Don't get me wrong, when things go badly on the ice for our little brothers across the lakes, I get as happy as Hudler at a 2-for-1 asstravaganza sale. But, as a fan of hockey, I'm worried that the possible insolvency of a Central Division rival and of the Stanley Cup Winning team might destabilize the league I love. In a way, we need the Blackhawks to survive. Without them and their new goaltender Marty Turco, on whom will the Red Wings mercilessly pound?
I've been trying to think of a solution for Rocky Wirtz that goes beyond raising ticket prices that will help him so that they don't have to wait "four (or) five years before we can actually get back in the black." What I've come up with are some ways to allay the biggest financial problem the Blackhawks face in the upcoming year. No, it's not a way to make it so they don't have to tip cab drivers 150% of the fare to get them to take Patrick Kane anywhere; I'm talking about how to cover the $5.6 million salary that the Blackhawks are going to have to pay goaltender Cristobal Huet for his services in either Rockford (Illinois) or Europe (Europe). Now, of course there would be a minor difference in the salary owed to Huet from the Hawks if they sell him to a European team, understanding that they'll pick up a part of his salary; but I'm willing to write that off completely, since I can't imagine anybody in Europe pays that much for a guy to chart faceoffs.
With that in mind, here are some ideas to bring in some extra money from Blackhawks fans so the Wirtz ownership group doesn't have to dress in 1980's finest discarded barrels. Join me after the jump...
1. Start a campaign to get Blackhawks fans to buy 29,474 more customized player jerseys than they did last year at $190 a pop. One way to do this would be to question the loyalty of fans whose jerseys lack the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions Patch. Yeah, your Roenick jersey is nice, but without the patch, how do we know that you were actually rooting for Chicago in the cup finals? You could be one of those fell-off-then-jumped-back-on the bandwagon fans that the regular bandwagon fans look down upon for all we know. Of course, a quick way around this would be to buy the officially licensed patch for $15 and just sew it to your jersey. To avoid this tricky shortcut, just remind fans that altering an officially licensed product makes it no longer officially licensed. This includes sewing one officially licensed product to another. Make sure to say "we can tell" while you're saying it. Hell, if the Blackhawks fans are willing to accept that you're actually losing money, they're probably also willing to believe that you can tell an altered jersey from a store-bought one. A few notes on the jersey-buying campaign idea though:
- When asking fans to buy the jersey of their favorite Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks player, accept that they probably already own Kane or Toews; so try sell them on the unsung guys. Just make sure to remind them that buying Dustin Byfuglien's 2010 hockey jersey benefits the Thrashers more than it does the Blackhawks.
- Try asking fans to get in on the ground floor of a few of the guys still here from last year that will be taking on increased responsibilities in the upcoming season. For instance, some Hawks fans may not be incredibly familiar with Tomas Kopecky's name, but they sure will be when he's getting 2nd-line minutes for the club in 2010-11.
- Don't be afraid to buy and wear a customized jersey with your own name and number on it. Arguments go back and forth on whether it's a jersey foul to wear your own name to a professional game. But, fortunately, since the Hawks 3rd and 4th lines this year will be a veritable who's-who of "who's that?", people who think it is a jersey foul likely won't know if it's your last name or the name belonging to that guy on the ice who just turned the puck over again.
2. Get the copyright to the "DETROIT SUCKS!" chant and charge 25 cents to each fan every time they use it in the arena. This should make up that $5.6M salary shortfall in no time flat. If you're worried that Hawks fans are going to somehow learn how to cheer for their own team instead of against Detroit to avoid this charge, I wouldn't. They've had this long to learn, why start now?
3. Sell 1,019,000 more hot dogs at $5.50 apiece. Now that Antti Niemi is gone, this might be more difficult, but there are several ways to get the average attendance at the United Center to buy almost 49 more hot dogs per person over the course of the season. Here are just a few:
- Hold Loser-Pays hot dog eating contests among the fans. I'm sure that, on any given gameday, there are at least 10,000 fans in the arena that can finish off north of 30 hot dogs in one sitting.
- Upgrade the hot dog cannon to a rapid-fire machine-gun hot dog cannon, include a bill for the dog and the compressed air with the prize. If people complain, tell them they shouldn't have caught the hot dog in the first place.
- Bring Ken Hitchcock in as a team consultant.
4. Charge United Center patrons for use of the restrooms on a $1 per number you have to go system. Import water from Mexico to increase the $3 sessions. Also, charge a $5 religious tax if somebody needs to use a stall to pray to the porcelain gods. (Note, if other teams plan to adopt this system, I would recommend Philadelphia forgo the upchuck charge).
5. Now, I'm not suggesting anything illegal or anything, but if anybody out there is convincing enough to talk Brian Campbell into retiring, that might help things a bit. Maybe tell him that without all the depth in front of him, he's going to have to play in his own zone a lot more frequently than last season.
So there you have it, just a few ideas to help make sure the Blackhawks can remain a competitive franchise both on the ice and financially. The beauty of it is that all of these ideas implemented together means that if one were to lead to disappointing results, the others should more than make up the difference. So get started, Blackhawks fans. You don't want Wirtz to end up like his father, do you?