Monday, July 31, 2006

Taking a week off...

Much too much going on this weekend in my personal life to post a blog worth having. I was pondering two topics: One analyzing the differences between the ECHL and AHL from watcher's point of view; and a brief white paper on the Cyclones/Ducks/RR's and how we got where we are today for our friends in Hamilton and Montreal to get an understandnig of some of the jabs and jibes on the boards.

Instead, I'll leave you with this: It's just hockey; have another beer.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

What good is a Zamboni without ice?

Check out this article on ice rinks on Wikipedia. It's short reading (unlike my posts) and very concise about the making of the surface for the sport we love. I never really considered myself to be any sort of commodity for having the knowledge to make quality ice. I always thought of it as one of those dumb skills that few people had but even fewer needed.

I can retire from public service in 735 days. Maybe I can become an Ice Meister once again.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Endearing Confidence or Promoting Paranoia?

It's old news already that the Cyclones have signed an affiliation deal with the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) and Montreal Canadiens (NHL) for the upcomgng season. I was just starting to get edgy about their lack of any player signings when this was announced. Personally, this has given me a new shot of confidence in the organization.

Les Habitants are the most storied team in all of professional hockey. For them to even have their name associated with an organization is quite a credit. If they never send a single player to the Queen City, they still had their name tied to the club. They would never do that unless they had a degree of confidence in the Cyclones or somebody within.

I'm not saying the affiliation will guarantee success; but it is one of the building blocks. I'm rather satisfied with that. All the naysayers are still boo-hooing and proudly decrying the failure of the Cyclones before the first puck is ever dropped. Well, boo hoo on you, at least we'll have 36 games in Cincinnati this year. That beats a blank. They can sit around talking over tea and crumpets about how no AHL in town is better than guaranteed hockey in the ECHL.

You know what they say about a bird in the hand...

Meanwhile, yeah, I'd like to see some player signings and other news coming from the front office. Maybe for PR purposes they could get the information stream flowing. This is the age of instant data, so mere droplets of information are not enough.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Rollergirl Update

I've had the distinct pleasure of corresponding with one of the founders of the Cincinnati Rollergirls. They are already looking ahead to the 2007 season and seeking a larger, suitable venue. Maybe they can work something out with our friends at the Gardens.

The website has been updated with Team Pages. They have some great team names and player names. Check it out. Just taking a random sampling, the Dames of Destruction have a player named "Anya Kneez." You should go on a treasure hunt for "Maggit" - she is hot.

The first exhibition bout is set for August 13 at Castle Skateland.

Don't miss it!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

You Can’t Blame The Consumer

Enough of a dead horse already, I know. I need to be more positive and get off the negativity myself. But I just can’t help myself. It’s my own blog and I’ll do what I want. I know I’m either preaching to the choir or making doubters just shake their know-it-all heads at me but I just can’t resist. I’ve already established why I believe the Railraiders failed at their season ticket campaign.


I popped in to the old “forum that shall remain nameless” one day last week. That was my first mistake. Lo and behold, the most recent post was yet another jab laying the blame at the feet of Cyclones fans for the Railraiders failed season ticket campaign.

This is such bullcrap it makes me want to heave. It’s just plain wrong for two reasons: (1) It is a mere opinion that more Cyclones supporters could/should have committed to season tickets; and (2) SO WHAT? Even if they could have, they did not and the RR’s should not have counted on them.

The argument goes something like this…

A) Railraiders get about 1650 committed full-season ticket equivalent commitments, about 350 short of the needed 2000

B) A large percentage of the commitments were termed “new business” (although that has not been fully defined – have they never held season tickets anywhere? Have they never held season tickets in Cincinnati? Have they never held season tickets for a Robinson endeavor? What is it?)

C) There is a belief that more Cyclones fans could have and should have bought season tickets

D) If only 175 Cyclones fans had committed to two tickets each, the goal would have been met and the Railraiders would have existed.

E) Peace and Harmony would befall the City of Seven Hills, Cincinnati.


First, we don’t know and we can never know exactly how many people actually did hold out on buying season tickets for the Railraiders purely because they love the Cyclones and hate the Robinsons/Gardens/etc. You just can’t put a number on it. I doubt it was 175 who also were capable of buying two full season tickets or a higher number wanting partial seasons. That is my opinion. I doubt it is a fact. Whenever they want to bash CincySports, they want us to believe there are only a dozen or so fans that even exist (count the number of users actually posting on “the forum which shall remain nameless”). But then when they want to argue about the RR’s, suddenly there are legions of fans who should have bought Railraiders tickets.

Second, let’s just assume for a moment that the number of Cyclones holdouts would have been enough for make the Railraiders quota. So what? It is their money, their choice, their time, and investment. Some people want to be respected for their preference of AHL over ECHL to exclusion of buying Cyclones season tickets – but they find it offensive that Cyclones fans may have elected not to commit to the Railraiders. Double standard? I believe so.

If, and it’s still a huge IF, this is true, then the seller (Railraiders) should have recognized this and not expected these people and they should not have marketed to these people. If they are indeed a hopeless, lost cause, then they made an error in calculation to depend upon them.

If I have a business selling widgets and nobody buys them, can I blame the consumer? Hell now. I failed to convince them that they needed to own my widget, or my widget isn’t so wonderful after all. I can’t blame the buyer. I either misinterpreted the market or mis-marketed my product. That’s it. That’s all.

It is absolutely insulting to regurgitate a bunch of alleged ‘facts’ and then come to the nonsensical conclusion that Cyclones fans are the reason for the Railraiders’ failure to reach their goal. Why not blame the Irish for not buying more tickets? Why not gays? Or dentists?

And people wonder why there is a division within Cincinnati hockey fans. There is a clinical definition for it: Insanity.

Let us explore the dictionary.

Pronunciation: 'fakt
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin factum, from neuter of factus, past participle of facere
- A piece of information presented as having objective reality

Pronunciation: &-'pin-y&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin opinion-, opinio, from opinari
- A view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter

Pronunciation: in-'sa-n&-tE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
- Extreme folly or unreasonableness. Something utterly foolish or unreasonable

This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Useless Fact #3

1946 As President of Hynes-Clearwater Kiwanis Club, Frank J. Zamboni led the effort to unify the towns of Hynes and neighboring Clearwater, creating the city of Paramount, California.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Marshals Mania

Holy Cow! What a wild ride for the Cincinnati Marshals of the NIFL at USBA. And people say minor league hockey is volatile? Let me see if I can get this straight:

1) Marshals make the playoffs, set to play their first game in Osceala, FL.
2) The Osceala venue isn't available, so the league moves the game to Cincinnati.
3) USBA is not available for the regular weekend game, but the league demands it be played in Osceala on Monday.
4) Marshals balk, the guys have real jobs, and can't travel on work days on such short notice.
5) Marshals forfeit, Osceala advances to play St. Louis.
6) Osceala fails to file paperwork on time, and thereby forfeit.

Geez, what a mess. I may be wrong in my recollection; or it may change again. It's a darn shame, the players deserve better than that.

Maybe it is a better scenario for the arena owner to also own the team (such as the Gardens and/or USBA). That stability is at least guaranteed. It might even be better to have less-than-ideal owners if they do own the building. The best ownership group in the world is screwed if the venue falls through. How many times have we seen that?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Congratulazioni Italia

Being of Italian distraction myself, I'm rather pleased that the Italians took the World Cup this year, overcoming adversity - and beating the cowardly Frency in the process. It's a good thing the game was not held in France, they would have tripped over all the French rifles that had been dropped on the ground.

I've noticed my readership is way down - not that I'll get the circulation of the New York Times. The newness has worn off and my long-winded posts aren't exactly catchy. I'm just about out of topics that deserve hard-hitting analysis. I'm not sure where this blog will take me; but it's a fun ride.

Time will tell. Part 2 of the Loyalty topic is below. Enjoy. LET'S PLAY HOCKEY!

Loyalty: Part 2


The Cyclones went dormant and the Ducks were left standing. Just as if my doctor upset me and then retired, I became a Ducks watcher. I even was able to realize one of my all-time fantasies when I got to be the 2nd Zamboni driver at actual Ducks games. That was fabulous. In spite of that, however, I can’t say that I became a rabid fan. Several things came together, which prevented me from becoming a face-painting, screaming, wacky fan.

Again I did not have the time that I previously did; this kept me from getting to know and recognize the players and really being familiar with their styles, special skills, etc. When I did make it to games, the overall experience was marginal. The crowds were so-so, the energy level was so-so, and the Ducks player talent level was good but not great. As a result I liked the Ducks, I enjoyed the Ducks, but I was not a 100% Duck Nut. Then Anaheim pulled the plug and I was stuck home watching reruns in 04-05 and OLN in 05-06.

When the Railraiders tried to get going, I was totally on-board. The return of hockey was eminent, why shouldn’t I be? It was late in the campaign before I actually called and made my deposit. I was debating how many to get and whether to get full season or half. Ultimately my wife and I decided on two full season tickets. I was crushed when they had to pull the plug on it. I plan to analyze that in next week’s entry.

Suffice to say this was the Gardens hockey group’s chance to secure their place as the only game in town so they could have maintained the current loyalties and earned new ones. This is what disappoints me the most about them not making it.

Then, along comes the Nederlander organization to fill the void and return the Cyclones. Again I am totally on-board. Why not? I have plenty of good memories of the entity we know as the Cyclones and plenty of good memories of hockey at the US Bank Arena. Besides, as stated, there is not a hockey team on every corner. This is the chance to have live professional hockey in Cincinnati 36 nights a year, plus exhibitions and playoffs. I have not bought my season tickets yet; I plan to take that leap in July or August.

But they have my support until they either cease to exist or do something to turn me away. Meanwhile the Gardens is working on a second chance. In a perfect world I would love to see them get a team and keep that building going as an all-inclusive hockey barn for us kids of all ages. If the Cyclones stay in operation and the Railraiders pull a magic rabbit of their hats and get going, we will be back to the split loyalties.

That really stinks. I hope that either the Cyclones are so wildly successful that the Railraiders give up; OR that the Cyclones pull the plug and the Railraiders step in. I’m dreaming, eh? Murphy’s Law of Cincinnati hockey dictates that the Cyclones will do just good enough to remain in operation and to make the Railraiders see enough of a market to try again; thus creating the natural division.

Back to loyalty. Some people will feel a clear loyalty to one or the other, based up on their personal experience. But many others like me will feel a genuine split. My better game experiences have been with the Cyclones but my better personal experiences and relationships have been with the Gardens.

We have good reasons to support both entities, but only so many entertainment dollars to spend and days in the year to spend them.

What is the point of all this rambling? I’ll tell you. The point is that loyalty is a basic trait of human nature. We like to be loyal. Reasons for loyalty are very personal and those reasons are complete reality for the individual. I’m basically a positive person and I relish in the positive experiences I’ve had with both teams and I don’t dwell on too much the negatives of the past.

Some people have had an imbalance of positives vs. negatives that have swayed their allegiance to one camp or the other. That’s cool. I can respect that. We all should be able to respect that. I read a bunch of other peoples’ blogs recently and I was amazed at how we can all take the same set of circumstances and draw such completely different conclusions – and then call our conclusions “facts” while bashing the other side for getting the “facts” wrong.

We are all looking at the same data; but we’ve experienced it differently. Crowing about “facts” and using that to preach against the other guy’s preference is like arguing about Cookies & Cream vs. Rocky Road.

A wise man on my men’s league team says: “its just hockey. Have another beer.”

This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Useless Fact #2

The current Zamboni configuration has it's roots in the 1968 Model HD resurfacer. That was the first machine to use a vertical screw auger to bring snow into the tank, allowing for the faster forward dumping tank.

Previous models used a chain drive system with the snow carried in small buckets and dumping them into the tank, which had to be shoveled out after resurfacing!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Cyclones vs. Ducks: A Study In Loyalty

How’s that for a provocative title? Actually I’m going to ride the fence again on this one as I explore loyalty and how it affects us fans. I tried and tried but I couldn't cut this one down in size and still say all that I wanted to say. So, it will be my first two-part blog topic. Part two will be posted next week.

The question of why people are loyal to one team is not what I wonder about; but I do question some of their behavior related to that loyalty. The root of it all is that we are all basically creatures of allegiance. We like it when people are loyal to us in whatever way; and we show our loyalty to what we appreciate. This is a case study of one man’s loyalty, how it has been earned, and how & why it has shifted. This is my story, but I’m sure I’m not alone.

Set aside hockey for a moment. Think about your mechanic, hair stylist, furnace repair guy, pizza place, veterinarian, or any other business that you trade with on a regular basis. You try it – either by referral or just through experimentation – and if you don’t have a good experience you simply look for another. Then eventually you find a place or person who treats you right, you have a positive experience, and you go back.

You continue to go back until you have a bad experience. Then you might give them another chance but if it is unresolved, you probably won’t return. Sometimes it does not take a bad experience but it’s just the circumstances. My mechanic is a good example of this. I’ve had my cars serviced at the same place for many years. I went to grade school with the guys and they do good work. They are a little pricey but I trust them. One Saturday my stepdaughter was home from school and having trouble with her pesky little marvel of Korean engineering (a 2000 Kia Sportage). My regular shop is closed on Saturdays but she had to go back to school Sunday night.

There is a new shop in town that’s open on Saturday so I tried them out. I could write three blog entries on how great this place is (C.A.R.S. on Dixie Highway in Erlanger) but that’s not the point. The point is that they were wonderful, reasonably priced, and the finally got to the core of the ongoing problem with the Kia. They attacked the problem like an old-school mechanic, trying to solve the problem rather than treat the symptom.

I’ve referred 6 or 7 people there in the past month and everybody loves them. I have had a loyalty shift. I feel torn about this because the guys at old shop are friends and they never did actually treat me badly. They did not catch the problem with the Kia, but it took extraordinary effort by the new guys to find it. So, I reward that extraordinary effort with my continued future business.

How does this relate to hockey? Well, they really are parallel examples. This will be my personal experience alone, I’ll get to the experiences of others in a moment. The Cyclones were here before the Ducks, obviously. I was thrilled that Doug Kirchhofer brought hockey back to town and I started going to games. My game experiences were always very positive, so I kept going back. The first year in the IHL was a little rough, but they quickly made adjustments and returned to their winning ways.

Then they moved downtown. No need to fuss over all the intricacies of that; they just moved and I continued to have good times at the games. The Ducks came along but I had no reason to go check them out because I was totally satisfied with the Cyclones experience. Why go get your hair cut somewhere else when you are happy where you are going?

Yes, a professional hockey team doesn’t sit on every corner like a barbershop; but the loyalty thing is primal. It just can’t be avoided. My loyalty was to the team, the entity, which had brought me many years of pleasure. I did go watch a Ducks game or two. I never had a bad experience with the Ducks; but they did not thrill me to the exaggerated degree that would have been caused to pull my allegiance from the Cyclones and the history I had with them.

It didn’t help that the Ducks only had 2 winning seasons out of 7 while the Cyclones only had 12 winning seasons out of 14. The Ducks were OK. I like the Gardens enough. The people there are nice and the prices were good. But I had no reason to leave the Cyclones and the Ducks didn’t give me enough to walk away for no reason.

When the Cyclones dropped to ECHL, yes they technically were not the same franchise. They were a relocated franchise and their history of record was not in Cincinnati. They kept the logo and played in the same building but they could have just as easily been called the Cincinnati Slag.

However, they were still the entity associated with all the prior years of good times, even euphoric feelings. By this time in my life, I was married and my job assignment changed. I was working shift work and could not maintain my season tickets. I attended as many games as I could; and I went to a fair share of Ducks games. The AHL was certainly better and the Ducks mustered up some better win/loss records. Still, I naturally associated the years of “good vibe” to the entity known as the Cincinnati Cyclones.

Did they do some things to upset me? Sure. Did they go down in quality of play? Absolutely. But like my barber or furnace guy, the team had done me well and I appreciated them; so I stuck with them. Then, I had a very, very bad experience with arena security on the night of Don Biggs’ return from retirement. It was addressed but never really resolved to my satisfaction. Telling that story would be take a record length blog. I won’t go there.

Suffice to say it was enough to make me give the Ducks another look. I knew several people working inside the Gardens and I played there in the men’s league after they reopened the annex. I even did a little Zamboni driving when they needed some help. They made me feel like family.

Where did my loyalty take me from here? Stay tuned to next week's exciting conclusion.

This blog is my sole opinion. It may be based on reason and fact; or it may be purely my emotional preference but it is mine alone. I only claim to be perfect most of the time. You are entitled to disagree, and I invite you to do so - somewhere else.