One of life's greatest ironies is how much die-hard fans loathe bandwagon fans. It's basically the worst accusation you can throw at a fan. On the other hand, the presence of the lowest form of fan means that your team is doing well because only an idiot bandwagons on a losing team. Now, when people start peeling off of your franchise you might be getting into some trouble. The level of die-hards in the fanbase has dropped from 68% to 51% according to the study.
Could this be a long-term problem? Apparently it worries MLSE enough that they have even started looking for tips from the Chicago Blackhawks and the Montreal Canadiens. Oh brother. What do the Habs do? They actually give a free ticket to grade 5 students in Montreal (great idea) so could the Leafs copy that?
Anselmi confirmed the Leafs investigated a similar plan, but they couldn't follow through because they have only about 20,000 unsold tickets for the entire season. Instead, Leafs fans will have to settle for the exhibition game on Sept. 22 against the Buffalo Sabres in which all the tickets will be freebies.
Of course not (rolls eyes). With school starting up and the exhibition schedule being just another cash grab from sports owners why not take that financial hit out of season ticket packages and distribute all of those tickets to school aged kids around the GTA. Two tickets per kid and make having a kid a requirement for entry to prevent scalping of the tickets. Imagine the goodwill and the impact on the younger generation. Hell, I can still remember the candies that my mom packed me when I went to my first Leafs game at the Gardens. You can't tell me that that wouldn't make a big push towards counteracting the aging of the franchise's fanbase. Not to mention that it is an amazing way to introduce Toronto's massive immigrant population to hockey.
At the end of the day, MLSE (and its detractors) should realize there is no better recipe for building a fanbase than winning. Look at Manchester United. How many of those gloryhunting SOBs were around when United were in the Second Division? So Anselmi, you want to make your job easier? Get a good product on the ice and the fans will follow. Links are after the jump.
- Ah Damien, you just can't help yourself eh?
- Jason sees a larger plan with the Leafs. He also reminds us that the goalposts are moving with regard to a successful season.
- Surprise surprise the PA has been shady with benefits for retired players. I wonder how much of that will have ended up lining the pockets of Mssrs. Goodenow and Saskin?
- Andy Grabia compiles the various viewpoints in the hockey blogosphere's on-going battle between stat-heads and gut-heads. All of those links are extremely good reading.
- JP tries to apply some of those numbers to the Capitals.
- Scotty Hockey looks at the Leafs and hits all of the important notes: shitty owner, Jeff Finger's contract, and a terrible team.
- Steve thinks Cliff was sandbagging with his comment about only having one top-six forward. How he forgot about Poni is beyond me.
- Torontosportsmedia finds some interesting parallels with the Detroit Lions. By interesting I mean depressing.