At last, the Atlanta Thrashers will re-locate to the city of Winnipeg. After several months on edge, Thrasher nation will lose their National Hockey League Franchise due to financial constraint and the failure to find financial assistance. Out west, the Phoenix Coyotes are safe for at least one more season, due to the City of Glendale promising to commit $25 million to the Phoenix Coyotes losses if the team fails to find a buyer by the conclusion of the 2011-12 season.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are linked to this dreadful stage as well. Due to the mere fact that after losing $14 million in the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the Blue Jackets estimated a loss of $25 million for 2010.
What is going on in the Arena District in Downtown Columbus?
It’s no secret that the ownership group led by majority owner John P. McConnell has given the green light for General Manager Scott Howson and his staff to construct the best possible 23 man roster. Case in point, roughly $52.4 million was spent on players’ salaries for the 2010-11 season. A franchise high for the organization. Just slightly under a $5 million dollar increase from the 2009-10 campaign. The problem is, 13,350 fans on average, bothered to take part in home games at the Nationwide Arena this season. According to the Columbus Dispatch, that’s a 2,067 decrease per game from the 2009-10 season.
Adding to the financial difficulties is the lease agreement with the Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets claim to lose $12 Million per season due in large part to not getting A. Parking revenue B. Naming rights revenue and C. some luxury box revenue. It’s all in the agreement with Nationwide.
During these difficult times financially, Scott Howson continues to get support from ownership. The Payroll increases, it doesn’t decrease. If you look at the on-ice production though and the empty seats to go around, the Columbus Blue Jackets are simply not good enough and the Blue Jackets fan base knows it.
Another long off-season is well underway in Columbus, as the Blue Jackets missed the post season for the 9th time in franchise history. An existence of 10 years in the business, it’s gone too far. A loss in the quarterfinals to the Red Wings in the 2008-09 season (0-4) was their only appearance in post season play, just shy of a decade.
So where do you go from here?
General Manager Scott Howson and staff have their work cut out for them. There is no question that the parent club needs to improve. There is no question that the organizational depth chart needs to be deeper. There is no question that more seats need to be occupied . It all starts and ends upstairs though.
In the next several weeks leading up to the National Hockey League Entry Draft in St. Paul Minnesota, we will take a look at the organization’s depth chart and break down the strength’s and weaknesses, as well as, examine who stay’s and who played their final days as a member of the Blue Jackets.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the Stanley Cup finals. As soon as we have a 2011 Stanley Cup Champion, things will start to heat up for the Columbus Blue Jackets and 29 other NHL clubs, as it’s sure to be a busy off-season as usual.
DarrenCoslov on Twitter.