As the owners of the longest current streak for finishing out of the playoffs (since 2004) in the NHL and not winning a Stanley Cup (since1967), the management of the Toronto Maple Leafs has issued a series of pretty abject apologies to the fans of the organization.
From Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, to Brian Burke, the general manager and architect of this latest unsuccessful team, to the players themselves, apologies if not outright mea culpas have been delivered through the media.
It is an interesting strategy to try to placate fans, but at its heart, seems little more than an empty gesture.
Still, I lived through seven straight playoff-less years in Calgary. That organization's reaction to disgruntled fans was that they better support the team and buy season tickets or they would move it out of town. The Flames weren't that far from following the Winnipeg Jets out of Canada.
This is nicer than that.
Toronto isn't suffering through people cancelling their season tickets and aren't coming under any financial pressure as a result of their horrible hockey teams. At worst, there are stories that it's getting harder to sell luxury boxes in the city and harder to give away tickets to Leaf games.
Those are only the very beginning of a hint that their may be a revolt coming in Leafland that could put financial pressure on a team that seems to have a license to print money.
It would be pleasant to believe there was some sincerity in this apology to the fans. How would you know the organization is not just paying lip service to the idea they are remorseful about the poor showings of Maple Leaf teams? Give the fans a rebate on their tickets. Reduce the ticket price, which, at an average of $114.10 per ducat, is by far the most expensive ticket in hockey. Take some of that money you are pulling out of fans' pockets and give it back.
The next-highest average ticket price in the NHL is the Montreal Canadiens' $72.18. Leafs reduce their average price to $85 and they still pull in more per seat than anyone else.
Until I see some combination of a better team and a smaller ticket price, I have no faith or even interest in an apology from Toronto Maple Leafs ownership. Talk is cheap. Let me see a tangible concern expressed—preferably in the form of cash.
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