An Open Letter to John P. McConnell
As a select group of NHL owners meet with the NHLPA ahead of the Board of Governor's meeting, we take a moment to share our thoughts with Blue Jackets Majority Owner John P. McConnell.
Well, first off, let me say this: I'm sorry for you.
I think you've been in a bad position for the past, what, three years? You've been desperately trying to get this team back to the success it embraced in your first year in the big chair, and you haven't exactly had an easy road to walk. You had to deal with the Ken Hitchcock implosion, the Scott Arniel roller coaster, the departure of your most marketable star...ouch. You had an out and out fan revolt, complete with demonstrations, and the gestures you made to soothe them, while sincere, have been rendered defunct by the lockout.
Did you, like the Leafs and Red Wings, suspect that you'd been offered a poisoned chalice? That the marquee event bestowed upon you was likely to be cast aside if the labor negotiations went south? Do you think, now and then, that you and your family have put a lot of time, money, and energy into the organization that frequently gets dismissed by the NHL as an organization? I wouldn't blame you for those moments of doubt.
I'm sorry for you because I think a lot of good work that you and the organization have done in the community (and are still doing - full credit to all of you for participating in a great deal of charity work despite the lack of an NHL season) is being wasted, and quite a lot of fundraising and promotion for good causes will be lost.
I'm sorry for you because instead of earning the reputation of a loyal son who took his father's gift to Columbus to the next level, it's likely to be that of a well meaning man who was crippled by circumstances.
I'm sorry for you because you and the organization threw a lot of weight behind realignment, only to see it fall apart.
I'm sorry for you because I think many fans are losing their interest in the Blue Jackets, and I think you're going to have an incredibly difficult time getting them back.
I'm sorry for you because I think the organization made one of their best moves in years by hiring John Davidson, and the news barely registered beyond the 270 Outerbelt.
I think you're at a crossroads, sir.
Even if you aren't one of the anointed owners allowed to attend today's meeting with the NHLPA, you (or your proxy) will still be attending the Board of Governors meeting.
Let's consider the situation: The all star game is lost. Supposedly we'll get another. Whatever. Realignment was torpedoed. The fans are sliding back into hostility, or worse, apathy.
I recognize you won't have the loudest voice in the room. But there are questions you can ask. There are points you can raise. What kind of end game are you truly looking for? The goals of this lockout were never clear. It's time to find an end game. If the 50/50 revenue split is truly the "big" issue, fine. The players were willing to meet it. Take the offer. Let the smaller details get hammered down.
Stop letting groups looking for the "big" win keep pushing the agenda when it's fairly clear there isn't one.
It's time to let your peers know that this has gone on long enough, and there is no outcome that justifies the continued state of affairs.
You have a voice in the room.