Monday, November 27, 2006

This is too funny.

Sorry, I know they were wrong, but I just can't bring myself to get too worked up about it. I just think it's hilarious.

The link was removed by the host site. It was a story about a couple of knucklehead rink employees who drove the Zamboni to a local fast food drive-through in the middle of the night and got busted.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Going Dark

I want to thank all of you who have been regularly reading my blog. I started out on a lark, but it became a regular thing for me and I’ve enjoyed it very much. I’ve been surprised that anybody would give a hoot about my opinions; but you did.

For reasons of professionalism and decorum, the blog will be going dark for a while. I might put up an occasional post but it will probably be very tame and will lack the zing it once had; maybe I’ll put up some Zamboni operations and ice meister stuff – people seem to find it interesting.

If you are interested in more on why I’m going on hiatus and/or to let me know if you would give a big rat's arse about ice care posts, you can email me.

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

First Time: Not A Charm

That was your humble correspondent on the Zamboni Saturday night (11/18) being humbled by the Zamboni. Wanna know what happened?

I got their early, expecting to put the finishing touches on the ice after the concert Friday night, but the full-time guys had already taken care of it. The ice looked really good. The resurfacing between the warm-up and first period went really well. I got it done fast, took off just the right amound of snow, and the ice looked good.

I missed small strips in two corners - the one just left of of the Zamboni entrance, and the one across the ice and at the other end. I swear those corners feel tighter than the other two. Something about them makes that second lap seem impossible not to miss. It was frustrating but not terrible.

The real fun began in the first intermission. Something felt different when I lowered the conditioner and started the conveyors. It felt like it was shaving way too deep. I continued - failing to trust my instinct - assuming that everything was set and I had no worries. Going by the team benches, I lowered the blade a turn, to give extra cut through all the skate marks there and the whole machine bogged down, it was cutting really deep then.

At the end of the benches I brought it back up, but it still felt like it was shaving too deep - taking off too much ice below the loose snow. With each pass up the ice, I raised the cutting blade a little more but it did not seem to have any effect. When I tried to speed up in the straightaways, it bogged down and struggled. I could also feel the conveyor clogging and had to use the ice breaker almost constantly.

Finally, about halfway through the resurfacing the snow collection tank was completely filled. Fine ice and snow was coming out of every crack of the tank. It packed in completely, and backed up down the verticle conveyor, causing it to almost freeze up. Fortunately, I was headed down the middle, toward the tunnel. I motioned to the rest of the crew, blew off the ice, quickly dumped about 125 cubic feet of snow, and blasted back out onto the ice.

Yeah, I missed a big spot when I returned to the ice and set down the conditioner right away. They stopped the clock at some point during the fiasco. The full-time staff thought I was running out of propane and did not know to switch tanks, but the problem was the overfilled snow tank.

We checked everything out during the second period. I have no blooming idea why it cut so deep, nor why the blade would not rise up when I cranked it. It moved just fine after we cleared everything out. So, we raised it up to where it would not be cutting at all, and I adjusted it when I out for the second intermission.

I was rather gun-shy at that point. I didn't want to fill the tank again and have to leave, and I was worried about the ice depth - I really did not want to cut out a line or logo! So, I was very conservative with the blade.

That's why the ice looked a little rough for the third period. I did not take off enough for that resurfacing.

Live and learn. Actually for pro games I really like the 2-Zamboni system. You never have to worry about something like this happening. But, no excuses. I was the driver, I did it - my fault.

The teams got great ice to skate on for the second period because I cut deeper than most of the skate grooves and their third period ice wasn't the greatest but wasn't terrible. The bosses just chuckled about it with me and were not upset. Thankfully.

I probably won't be there Wednesday night. I have to work at my regular job.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I would love it if you would please take my survey, so I can have a better understanding of my readers.

2006 Cincinnati Hockey Survey

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

I have a challenge to lay forth.

Some of the anti-Cyclones folks have avowed that the Cyclones are not worth the price of admission for what they say is substandard ECHL hockey. I've done some thinking about this. How much cheaper do these people what it to be? Yes, the RR's would have been on the low end for AHL pricing but the Cyclones are right in line with AHL pricing.

So, maybe they would have gotten 15-20% better hockey, at best for basically the same money but even at what they say is their position, the total cost of the Cyclones ticket is not a waste - only the top 20% of that cost (maybe).

I looked at all the ECHL team sites. Some of the sites were down but I found an average price of the cheapest tickets to be about $12. This is their cheapest seats, many of which are upper-bowl and worse seats than the $12 for the lower bowl at the USBA. But, being fair, I went with the lowest price offered.

The average cost only figuring the teams with cheaper seats was still $10.36.

The cheapest seat available overall was $9.

So, here is my challenge. If you are one of the naysayers who purport that $12 is too much for an ECHL game, then I WILL PAY $3 of your ticket cost to a game.

That's right, folks. Meet me at the Box Officer before the game and I will pay $3 of your ticket cost. You can see ECHL hockey for 25% less than face value. This is a one-time per person offer with a max. of 4 per game. I reserve the right to end at any time or refuse the deal (in advance, of course - I won't burn you).

The trick is, you have to admit that you read this blog (yuk) and you have to post under your known anti-cyclone screen name on either HG or CSH that you are taking me up on this offer. Put up your post and email me to look for it.

Then we can sit together and you can tell me to my face just how bad of hockey you think you are watching.

What do you have to lose?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Needed: Buzz

OK. We all agree, I believe, that more attendance is better. I'm not in panic mode yet over attendance. They are back after a layoff and getting back into action. First and foremost, they needed to put a good team on the ice. I believe they have done that in outstanding fashion. Lots can happen over a long season, but they are off to a hot start and they have shown they can definitely compete.

That's fabulous, as far as I'm concerned. I'm very, very satisfied.

Now they have to win new fans. "NEW" being the operative word here. Some of us were easy to win over, they don't need to do much but maintain for us. Some have their beefs and hangups with this team, fine, write them off. They'll never be won over.

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of other people in the market.

These are who the Cyclones need to win over and get them coming back. The organization is not competing against another team, league, or building. Their real competition is in fighting for people's choices of where to use their hard-earned and ever-shrinking discretionary spending monies.

They don't just need people to want to go to games. The need people to think they need to go to games - that Cyclones games are "can't miss" events. Basically, they need "BUZZ."

I'm no marketing genius. I'm just a local hack, but if I had their ear I would make some suggestions:

1) More marketing blitz, in a two prong pincer attack. One prong targets likely customers, getting into the mens leagues, ice rinks, youth leagues, etc. Everywhere people go, they need to see something with the Cyclones logo. Give calendars to the administrators of the leagues to give to players and parents.

The other prong goes after new customers, by actively soliciting all kinds of organizations for group sales (churches, schools, businesses, etc). Also get into bars, restaurants, places where people already spend recreational money. I would love to see some sort of radio promo with some talk shows or morning show or whatever, listeners fax or email in their office/group info for a chance to win 10 tickets to a game, with some promo items, etc. This should be a regular event - at least monthly if not more. They can even bring in another sponsor for food or whatever.

2) Once they get people in there, they have to keep them coming back. Concession prices are too high. I'm OK with paying more, but they can be better. Maybe reduce drinks a popcorn to a degree, and offer some certain items really cheap, like dollar hot dogs. They also need more dollar beers. Even if it's 10 or 12 ounce cups.

The hockey product itself is good. But they can't go by the "if you build it, they will come" theory. They have to reach out - and reach deep - to find people and get them to the game.

I had some other ideas running around in my head, but now I've forgotten. I'll save me from myself and keep this a shorter post than it could be. In conclusion, what they need is buzz. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's either an F5 Twiser, or it's a whirlpool going down the drain.

Lame crowds, unfortunately, beget more lame crowds. People come, see that nobody else is there, and don't care to come back. This goes for any such entertainment. On the other hand, good crowds beget better crowds. People who come and have a good time, in an affordable fashion, tell their friends and more people come. The excitement feeds on itself.

They can do it. We can help. They put together a damn fine hockey team in a short time. Phase 1 complete. Now they need to get the word out that they have this team in place and get people there. I'm sure the marketing pros have more and/or better ideas. Bring 'em on!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Well, I will confess that Wednesday's attendance was worse that I would have liked. It was so low that I tried to count it. I stopped at a little over 600 and I was sitting on the bench side which had more people that the opposite side that I could see better to count. Leaguestat has it reported as 942. I reckon that is within the realm of possibility, given what I counted and what I could not count. If it is exaggerated, it is not by much. And I do not believe it is exaggerated.

I had it my head that 1500 would have been a good number, but I figured it could go as low as 1000. I said before and I still maintain that it is perfectly reasonable to expect it to drop; but clearly it must get better if they are to survive. I think all of us fans need to make every effort to go to as many games as we can; and we need to encourage others to check out some games.

The future of the franchise may depend on it. Monday's home game has the potential of being a real stinker on attendance. Everyone, please consider coming out!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday Game, and other musings

I left the previous post up as the top post for a few extra days because I think it was an "impact post" that deserved the extra time. I said what I meant and I meant what I said. I offer no apologies.

Tonight is the first weeknight game of the season. Attendance will undoubtedly be lower than opening weekend. It will be a good indicator of thier marketing effort thus far, but it is not foolproof. I know this will sound like I'm being a complete stooge and apologist but I think it is accurate. If the attendance is high, that's fabulous and it means they are doing thing well. But if it is low, I'm not ready to be a Chicken Little and claim the sky is falling.

They have gotten the name out there up until now; but they need some more games to effectively generate any 'buzz' among the city. Weekday games are always lower on attendance and a casual fan is less likely to experiment with a week night. So, poor attendance is not the end of the world. But good attendance, obviously, is better.

I am impressed with the "Cricket Cup" concept. It is a little cheesey, but it is a good cause. More importantly it gets the Cyclones name out there and it good corporate partnerships and marketing. Cricket is spending a lot of money trying to carve a niche in the cellular market. It's good that they are spending some of that money with the Cyclones.

Anything to get the name out is a good thing. I have to think that this is one of the benefits of a behemoth organization like Nederlander owning the team. They have the contacts and are courted by other businesses for mutually beneficial campaigns. How can that be bad? I like Morella Raleigh handling the marketing. She has had to learn about hockey, but she can bring fresh ideas. This is another Nederlander asset to build on.

I like a lot of things this team is doing. Granted, I'm easy to win; but I will also be the first to be critical if it is warranted. So far, I have not been let down and I've been pretty stoked about things. Hopefully they can generate some of that almighty buzz and momentum. I think they are doing things mostly right.

One thing I have to criticize is the concession cost. They have to make it more affordable to students and families. I know that a top facility can command a higher price, but they are also competing against the cost of living, not just flexible income, in this economy.

Five Bucks for 23 cents worth of cotton candy? C'mon. That's insane. I think they could lower the prices, increase the volume, and thereby increase overall profit.