28 Feb

Hype on Steroids

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting awfully sick and tired reading about how Mark Chipman and his most recent financial backer are going to swoop down and temporarily seize control of a failing NHL franchise and move it to the capital of the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba.
I am also not surprised that the virtually all of these articles are coming from only one source – the Liberal Free Press.
Day after day now, they have been bombarding us with opinions and editorials that contain precious little new information, stirring up a frenzy that rivals their attacks on the Spirit of Manitoba in the summer of 1995. Jets fans will never forget how this publication turned from newspaper to newsmaker in the rush to discredit anyone who dared to try and wrestle control of the Jets from their beloved Barry Shenkarow. To this day, I use the term “BSN” to refer to this publication, an acronym for Barry Shenkarow News.
To be fair, it would be inaccurate blame the Free Press for the Jets’ departure, but they most definitely used all the influence they could muster to ensure that either Shenkarow would continue to run the Jets or the team would leave Winnipeg. The role they played during this pivotal time as we were fighting to keep our team can most kindly be described as shameful.
Fast forward to present day.
Almost immediately after his support of one-time federal Liberal candidate Glen Murray, not coincidentally, Mark Chipman suddenly became the apple of the Free Press’s eye. Where he and his worthless hockey team could not previously buy space in their publication, today, the Free Press hails him as one of the greatest Manitobans ever to set foot in this part of the world.
Having ascended to becoming the Hockey Tsar of Winnipeg on the backs of government handouts and concessions, not to mention the temporary financial backing of a series of private investors, the latest being David Thompson, it’s almost reached a point where you can’t have a game of shinny on the street without Chipman’s approval.
Now the Free Press wants him to have a NHL team. Badly.
They’re doing on awfully good job of riling up the small, but vocal “Return of the Jets” crowd, who keep claiming that the return of the NHL is just around the corner. It’s been “just around the corner” for the last decade and isn’t likely moving off that corner.
Rather than pining for a way to get Winnipeg back in the league, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is gleefully using the threat of a move to Winnipeg to extract concessions from cities with failing teams. Mark Chipman might be one of Bettman’s favorite people right about now and I admit that it’s nice to see Chipman being used for a change.
The Free Press might be getting many of you in Winnipeg excited, but the only one they’re helping is Gary Bettman and this latest hype effort from the Free Press will most likely to go by the way of so many seasons past when the Jets were here. If you didn’t get enough of the annual letdown they put us through, grab a copy of the Free Press and enjoy the ride.
12 Feb

Be Careful What You Wish For

For the benefit of those of you in Winnipeg who have been frothing at the mouth for the past decade and a half waiting on pins and needles for an NHL team to magically reappear on your doorstep, I present the following comparison of a couple of hypothetical owners of such a team.
Owner “A” acts as a steward for the franchise that he assumes responsibility for on behalf of the community that proudly calls the team its own. He will hire a qualified management team based on the strength of their professional qualifications and will give the team the support and resources they need to run the franchise effectively with a minimal level of direction. Owner “A” will, however, insist on accountability to the fans and that the organization work to earn the fans’ patronage that must never be taken for granted. In addition, building a competitive product over the long term will be a major priority for Owner “A”.
If things do not go as well as expected, when faced with criticism, Owner “A” does a careful introspective and endeavors to discover what he could be doing better to address the fans’ concerns. If, after giving management ample opportunity, they have either alienated the fan base or failed to deliver a winner, Owner “A” will make whatever changes are necessary to ensure that his customers are treated in a first-class manner and that they are given a quality product to watch on a nightly basis.
Owner “A” believes that no one person, including the owner, is more important than the team.
Owner “B” assumes control of the franchise and immediately installs a management team comprised of his loyal cronies. The professional qualifications of these cronies are of little concern to Owner “B”.
Together with his cronies, Owner “B” becomes heavily involved in every facet of the organization ranging from player moves to persuading the league to assign opponents on the schedule based solely on his personal preferences. Over time, fans begin to see the franchise as a personal asset of Owner “B” rather than an asset of the community and they become unable to separate the identity of the team from that of the owner.
Owner “B” expects the fans’ patronage and believes he is doing customers a favor by accepting their business. Though Owner “B” freely admits to making mistakes, he continues to make more of them.
If things do not go as well as expected, replacing the cronies and/or relinquishing day-to-day control of the franchise are out of the question. When faced with criticism, Owner “B” calls his lawyer.
Meanwhile, rather than work to earn the patronage of current and potential customers, Owner “B” skillfully cultivates relationships with politicians and government officials in order to obtain concessions and handouts to make up for the shortfall in revenue caused by a declining and increasingly apathetic customer base.
Building a competitive product over the long term is a priority for Owner “B”, but only if it can be done within the management framework he has laid out.
Now if I were living in a city that had a realistic chance of landing an NHL franchise, I would naturally prefer Owner “A”. Having suffered under Barry Shenkarow’s management of the Jets as they wallowed in eternal mediocrity during their time in the NHL, I can’t imagine patronizing that kind of ownership again, let alone something considerably worse.
If, however, the prospect of being subjected to Owner “B” is enticing to you, then you’ve found your man. You’re just the kind of customer Mark Chipman is waiting for. Check behind you. There may already be a “Kick Me Hard” sign pasted to your derriere.
I can understand the feelings of desperate and jilted fans who had their team stolen from underneath their noses. They want their team back. So do I.
However, blindly throwing your money and loyalty at an owner like Mr. Chipman doesn’t make you a better fan. It just drains you of money and passion and makes you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of.
Ceaselessly beating a drum in the hopes of obtaining an NHL franchise without an equally strong effort to ensure quality ownership for the team is an exercise in utter futility. Personally, I would want a team I can be proud to be a fan of. I want to know that the team appreciates my patronage. Winnipeggers weren’t afforded this privilege under the ownership of Barry Shenkarow and they won’t get it under Mark Chipman.
For all the hot air that continues to swirl around the vague prospect of an NHL team returning to Winnipeg, many of the biggest obstacles to a successful franchise, just as they were in 1996 when the Jets left, lie not with Gary Bettman and the NHL, but within Winnipeg itself. Money remains scarce and the ownership is guaranteed to be poor as long as Mr. Chipman remains entrenched as the Hockey Tsar of Winnipeg.
But, if you are prepared to accept any owner just for the sake of saying that you live in an NHL city, all I can do is repeat the time-honored line of “Be careful what you wish for”. It promises to be a painful ride.
04 Feb

Liberal Cafe in Disguise

The following article appeared in the pages of the Liberal Free Press this morning:


Here’s how the article should have read:

The Winnipeg Free Press is going back downtown for a cup of coffee.

The Liberal Party of Canada and its 138-year-old mouthpiece jointly announced a deal with a local restaurateur to operate Canada‘s first “Liberal café” in order to convince more voters to support the Liberals and to promote the Free Press’s artificially rosy image of Winnipeg.

The Liberal Free Press Café, which will be located in the Exchange District, is designed to be a community hub where Liberal supporters and bleeding heart socialists can not only grab a bite or have a drink, but will be encouraged to interact with Liberal candidates and their campaign managers on site.

John White, the paper’s online editor and the driving force behind the café concept, said it will represent the first time the Free Press has had a downtown presence since it moved from
Carlton Street

to

Mountain Avenue

in August, 1991.

“It’s important for us to get back into the community. There might be a federal election this spring, and it’s very important for us to get the support out for the Liberals. There are a number of swing ridings in Manitoba, and we need to promote the Liberals’ vision for Canada. Being downtown, it will be so much easier to meet people and host events,” White said.

White said the Liberal Café will also be used as a campaign forum. Other possibilities include hosting town hall meetings with Liberal candidates during election campaigns and interviews with performers on the eve of a show.

Among the first events held at the Liberal Café will be a skit based on a remake of the Omen series of movies. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be cast as Damien Thorn, the Antichrist, who has been sent to Earth and given power by Satan to destroy mankind.

The Liberal Party took possession of the space, situated at the northeast corner of
Arthur Street

and

McDermot Avenue

, on Thursday. Painters have already descended on the site, formerly home to the Jejomar Bakeshop, and the goal is a spring opening.

Bob Cox, publisher of the Free Press, said being a stone’s throw from
Portage Avenue

and

Main Street

was a key consideration, too.

“A ton of people work in the area. It’s very important for Liberal candidates and advocates to be in contact with the community, to tell the people what the Liberals want. That can be hard to do from the newsroom by telephone,” he said.

“All the while, we still have to keep up the mirage of the Free Press being a newspaper. We have a constant challenge to make what really is a Liberal campaign brochure look like news. We won’t rest until the Liberals are back in power for good.”

02 Feb

Want to Live in Wolseley?

Having had more than my share of negative experiences in the Wolseley area, I am convinced that such a questionnaire will soon be required of each resident:

In accordance with the Neighborhood Character Preservation Act By-Law of 2011, the City of Winnipeg now requires each current and prospective resident of the Wolseley area to submit this questionnaire and forward it to the Social and Demographic Registry. Please answer all questions and return a signed copy to the Registrar, Social and Demographic Registry,
510 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1B9

.

Section I: Personal Information

Name ______________________________________________________________

Current Address ____________________________________________________

                        ____________________________________________________

                        ____________________________________________________

Phone Number    ____________________________________________________

E-mail Address    ____________________________________________________

If you are prospective resident of the Wolseley area, please state address of proposed residence:

                        ____________________________________________________

                        ____________________________________________________

                        ____________________________________________________

Social Insurance Number ______________________

Section II: Demographic Information

How many dogs do you own?

___ 2

___ 3

___ 4

___ more than 4

Which party did you vote for in the last election?

___ NDP

___ Green

___ Communist

___ Marxist-Leninist

___ Rhinoceros

___ Didn’t vote (incarcerated)

___ Didn’t vote (physically incapacitated)

___ Didn’t vote (other)

What is your occupation?

___ Environmentalist

___ Lobbyist

___ Social Activist

___ Child Care Worker

___ Social Worker

___ Bleeding Heart Socialist

___ Tree Hugger

___ Prostitute/Sex-trade Worker

___ Pimp/Sex-trade Broker

___ Drug Dealer

___ Car Thief

___ Slum Landlord

___ Hoodlum

___ Welfare Bum

___ Unemployed

Favorite recreational activities (check all that apply)

___ Illegally jogging on roadway

___ Snorting/selling crack cocaine

___ Ingesting/selling methamphetamines

___ Injecting/selling heroin

___ Smoking/selling marijuana

___ Swearing

___ Complaining

___ Protesting

___ Whining

___ Stealing cars

___ Vandalism (cars)

___ Vandalism (other)

___ Civil disobedience

___ Feeling sorry for the underprivileged

I have read and understand the Neighborhood Character Preservation Act, and I further understand that it is a serious offense to violate the Act and to have been untruthful in this questionnaire. As a condition of my acceptance for residency in the Wolseley area, I agree to periodic monitoring of my activities by the Registrar of the Social and Demographic Registry and/or his/her designate to ensure compliance with the Act. This may include, but not limited to the following: visual surveillance, wire tap of telephone conversations, sniffing Internet network traffic, periodic polygraph testing, and examining Manitoba Health and prescription records.

Signed at ________________ on this _____ day of ______________, _________.

_______________________________________

Signature of resident (or prospective resident)

_______________________________________

Signature of Witness (must not be blood relative of resident/prospective resident)

Name of Witness (please print) ______________________________

Address of Witness ____________________________________________________

                            ____________________________________________________

                            ____________________________________________________

Phone Number of Witness ______________________________________________