THN.com Blog: Winning comes at a price

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

I don’t want to sound like a broken record when it comes to one issue, but when yet another NHL owner comes out and claims the bottom line could hurt his team’s on-ice performance, I feel that’s cause for rebuttal.

In an interview with CBC’s Elliotte Friedman on the weekend, Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano was roughed up by the sharp reporter on several fronts, but most illuminating was Golisano’s claims the Sabres may not make money this year. To which my heartfelt response is:

So?

Last year you owned one of the most positive entities in a geographical region that hasn’t exactly set the economic world on fire recently and had about 50,000 watts of goodwill bestowed upon you by the locals in the process.

Then, infamously, you proceeded to let three of your best players go (Briere, Drury and now Campbell) due largely to financial squabbles.

You remember that you’re a billionaire, right?

So what if the Sabres don’t make money this year? You are clearly very adept at making money in other ventures. Even if the Sabres lost you $10 million this year, you could probably find that in your couch cushions; it’s like an average person spending $20.

Think I’m exaggerating?

Golisano spent more than $90 million on three failed runs for governor of New York. And he did it as a third-party candidate, meaning his chance of winning was slim, no matter how much money he threw at the cause.

Personally, I’m starting to warm up to owners like Charles Wang on Long Island or Alan Cohen in Florida. Have you heard those two whining about competing with the Rangers or the Leafs of the world since the lockout? Nope. In fact, despite not having stellar attendance, the Islanders signed Rick DiPietro to a big, long-term contract and have made a concerted effort to market themselves to the local community.

As for Cohen, his interview with floridapanthers.com last summer illustrates exactly why his head is in the right place:

“We lost $10 million last year, but we’re committed to building a winner. Sure, I’d rather have the higher revenues of the bigger market teams. Then money wouldn’t come out of my pocket. But until we create that revenue, we’ll continue to spend and support the team.”

Cohen, like Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, made his fortune in pharmaceuticals, not hockey. Maybe at the next owners’ meeting, one of them can slip Golisano a reality pill.

ROLLING ON

For all you Year of the Ram fans out there, Roseau blasted Blaine 8-2 last night, setting up a semifinal contest with the Hill-Murray Pioneers tonight at the Xcel Energy Center.

Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his features, The Hot List and Year of the Ram, appears Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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