By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (June 4) — The Tampa Bay Lightning — down 1–0 to Chicago in the Stanley Cup final — has been ridiculed in some circles for prohibiting rival–team apparel in the Club sections of Amalie Arena. This became an issue last week when the Lightning won the Eastern Conference title over the New York Rangers but has, in fact, been team policy since the 2015 playoffs began — as per the following notice:
Chase Club and Lexus Lounge ticket holders: Please note that for all 2015 NHL Playoff Games at Amalie Arena, only Tampa Bay Lightning apparel (or neutral) will be permitted in these club and adjoining seating areas.
At the moment, a Lounge patron with the audacity to wear a Blackhawks jersey is asked to remove the offending garment or ushered to a spot elsewhere in the arena. Such policies have long been in vogue with regard to distasteful words and symbols — it’s unlikely a fan in any of the 30 NHL arenas would, for example, be permitted to wear a swastika on his or her jersey — but this is the first–such ban involving officially–licensed team apparel. The Lightning has also taken measures to prevent fans with mailing zip codes outside Florida from purchasing playoff tickets on its website and secondary markets (i.e. StubHub.com).
Tampa Bay is not the first NHL club to institute “cleansing” policies.
The Ottawa Senators, on more than one occasion, have tried unsuccessfully to diminish the overwhelming presence of Toronto Maple Leafs fans at the Canadian Tire Centre while the Nashville Predators threatened to do the same with ubiquitous Chicago followers in the opening round of the 2015 Stanley Cup tournament. Though the procedure is largely scoffed at, other teams will undoubtedly follow suit.
THIS FULLY–ADORNED CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS ZEALOT MADE IT INTO AMALIE ARENA WEDNESDAY FOR GAME 1 OF THE STANLEY CUP FINAL. BUT, ONLY AMONG “COMMONERS.”
In my view, there are three issues here:
The first two are mostly immaterial. NHL clubs have the freedom to institute any spectator policy they wish. Ticket buyers either conform or stay away. In that regard, Tampa Bay has acted neither improperly nor beyond jurisdiction with its protocol toward rival–team apparel. These policies, you will note, have been applied where a club is guaranteed a capacity audience — either a Toronto visit to Ottawa or a Stanley Cup playoff game. No–such tactic would be undertaken by a team attempting to fill its arena. Financial implication is therefore irrelevant.
The third issue is arguable.
Many feel these actions are insular and narrow–minded; that fans — so long as they conform to rules of behavior — should not be restricted by team–lineage or choice of outerwear. I lean toward this notion. The guidelines are either misunderstood or looked upon as immature. The NHL has grown in prominence and credibility during the Gary Bettman regime and, frankly, it doesn’t need to be affiliated with these customs. Such markets as Ottawa, Nashville and Tampa have become more than capable of thriving on their own merit, without resorting to inanity.
But, in the end… to each his own.
BOB McKENZIE IN HALL: When I read today that TSN hockey guru Bob McKenzie had been named recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Award for writing excellence, my first reaction was, “You mean, he isn’t already in the Hall of Fame?” I honestly had to double–check. This is a much–overdue honor. McKenzie is simply the most trusted media voice in the sport. It is my privilege to have known him for more than 30 years.
HOCKEY HALL–OF–FAMER BOB McKENZIE OF TSN. THE NATIONAL POST
NHL MEDIA GUIDES — PART 1
For half–a–century — beginning in the late 1950’s and continuing through the first decade of the 2000’s — National Hockey League teams published annual volumes they referred to as “media guides” or “fact books.” As chronicled, the items were specifically (at first) directed toward those covering the sport for newspapers, radio and television. They featured photographs of management, coaching and player personnel; individual biographic information and statistical records. Each club would forward dozens of copies to other NHL cities for distribution to local media. As the years progressed, the media guides grew in scope, color and artistic value. They became coveted items.
AN ARRANGEMENT OF TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS MEDIA GUIDES.
Sometime in the 1960’s, the media wing of the Toronto Maple Leafs figured the club could make some extra cash by putting the surplus guides on sale at souvenir kiosks. They were made available to the public — for $1.00 apiece — during games at Maple Leaf Gardens. Expansion in the NHL through the late–60’s and early–70’s multiplied the number of media books and I began to find them alluring. Hardly ever would I leave the Gardens in my teenage years without one or two–such items. Inevitably, a collection materialized and became rather bloated during my two decades covering the Leafs for The FAN–590. I have, today, more than 1,200 NHL guides dating to 1959, the year of my birth.
These items are now scarce. Beginning in 2008, many teams ceased publishing the books and made information available on compact discs. Given our insatiable market here in Toronto, the Maple Leafs continue to offer an elaborate production that is delivered to reporters and sold to the public. The first Leafs guide I have — from the 1962–63 season — is comprised of 48 pages. The 2014–15 Maple Leafs guide is 548 pages. These items are a chronological window to the modern history of the NHL and I will present a large cross–section of them to you in a series that begins here — appropriately — with the 2015 Stanley Cup finalists.
MY OLDEST MEDIA GUIDE (IN MINT CONDITION) FROM CHICAGO’S STANLEY CUP SEASON.
THE 1966–67 BLACKHAWKS FINISHED IN FIRST PLACE, 17 POINTS AHEAD OF MONTREAL AND 19 UP ON TORONTO. BUT, THE LEAFS PULLED A MAJOR UPSET BY ELIMINATING CHICAGO IN SIX GAMES DURING THE STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS. STAN MIKITA AND BOBBY HULL GRACED THE COVER OF THE 1967–68 GUIDE, AS THE NHL EXPANDED FROM SIX TO 12 TEAMS.
THOSE OFFENDED BY NICKNAMES THAT APPEAR TO MARGINALIZE INDIAN CULTURE WOULD BE PARTICULARLY APPALLED BY THE COVER OF THE 1970–71 BLACK HAWKS MEDIA GUIDE.
DENIS SAVARD AND DARRYL SUTTER (NOW COACH OF THE LOS ANGELES KINGS) GRACED THE COVER OF THE 1981–82 GUIDE (TOP–LEFT). AMONG THOSE PICTURED ON THE ’91–92 COVER WERE JEREMY ROENICK (27) AN CAPTAIN DIRK GRAHAM.
FROM THE FINAL SEASON OF VENERABLE CHICAGO STADIUM — 1993–94.
DESPITE ITS ETHNIC/RACIAL OVERTONE, THE BLACKHAWKS LOGO AND THEIR TEAM COLORS OF RED, BLACK AND WHITE HAVE REMAINED CONSTANT IN THE EVER–CHANGING NHL.
MY MOST RECENT HAWKS MEDIA GUIDE WAS ALSO THE MOST EXTENSIVE.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
THE FIRST TWO TAMPA BAY MEDIA GUIDES: 1992–93 / 1993–94.
TOP OF THE INAUGURAL LIGHTNING MEDIA GUIDE WAS REFLECTIVE — THUS THE CLOSE–UP.
THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY SEASON OF THE LIGHTNING WAS 2001–02 (TOP–LEFT). IN 2003–04, TAMPA BAY WON ITS FIRST (AND, TO DATE, ONLY) STANLEY CUP.
THE SEASON AFTER TAMPA BAY’S STANLEY CUP TRIUMPH WAS CANCELED BY AN OWNERS’ LOCK–OUT. AS SUCH, VETERAN DAVE ANDREYCHUK WAS SHOWN LIFTING THE SILVER MUG ON THE COVER OF THE 2005–06 LIGHTNING MEDIA GUIDE.
MY TWO MOST–RECENT TAMPA BAY GUIDES FEATURED THE STARS OF THE ’04 STANLEY CUP TEAM — BRAD RICHARDS (19) AND MARTIN ST. LOUIS (26).
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