Monday, February 2, 2009

Montreal Canadiens Management No Saints

While I understand Montrealer's love affair with the Canadiens, I don't understand how the team's management is seen in such a positive light. Over and over again we are reminded that they are a classy and civic-minded bunch. This idea has successfully permeated the entire league and nary a word of criticism is ever heard.
The Canadiens management has successfully fostered this myth with a willing, jock-sniffing press corps acting as their messenger. The unpleasant truth is that they are a ruthless money-making machine that charges monopolistic prices. The $4.50 bottle of water sold at the Bell Centre would make a crack dealer blush. I don't fault them for charging what they can get, I do however object to them claiming piety.
Last month I attended one of those 'memorable' nights celebrating the 100th anniversary of the team. Oversized tickets were printed and a 'special' night was promised. The ticket (jacked up by $50, for the event), promised a ceremony at 7:00 followed by the game against the Maple Leafs at 7:30. Sensing that it might be a special occasion I insisted that my wife, a reluctant fan, attend with me. At any rate 7:00 came and went. Nothing. We sat in our seats and twiddled our thumbs. At 7:30 the red carpet was rolled out and a brief puck dropping ceremony was held. I hope Jean Beliveau gets an appearance fee for his efforts, they seem to trot him out for every ceremony. I swear when he dies the Canadiens will stuff his body and put a hinge on his elbow so that he can continue to fulfill his ceremonial duties. Now if you've seen one puck-dropping ceremony, you've seen them all, pretty boring stuff. The difference with this one was that it cost me a hundred bucks and incredibly, nobody I talked to seemed to mind the rip-off.
I then realized that everything the Canadiens do, including the 100th anniversary is about making money. I'm surprised that they don't charge the volunteers of the Saint John's Ambulance crew to attend the games.
Forbes magazine reports that the team makes George Gillett over 40 million dollars a year and that doesn't include profits from the Bell Centre itself. Considering that he bought the team with 10 million dollars in cash and a balance of sale, it has to rank alongside the purchase of Manhattan as the deal of a century.
As I considered these thoughts during the first intermission, something else struck me.
Why on earth is Hydro Quebec advertising on the Zamboni ice-cleaning machines. Hydro is a monopoly and advertising their name is of no benefit to them or customers. They didn't even use the advertising space to promote an energy program, they just dressed up the machine with their logo and added a penis-looking plug on the front of the truck. Hmmm.
I like watching hockey and will pay a big premium to do so. But I don't have to admire or respect those who exploit their position.
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