Friday, March 09, 2007

Patrick Departs...and some Hockey Talk

Senior-to-be tackle Chris Patrick declared today for the NFL's Supplemental Draft in July, citing family reasons and denying some of the rumors floating about him on the internet:
"There have been all kinds of wild rumors. It’s been ridiculous really. People can speculate all they want. My standing with the team was good.“
In response, Bill Callahan would only say that Patrick's status with the team was under evaluation.

Compare that to last week's story when Patrick was quoted as saying:
“I’ll let the university comment. I’m not going to say anything right now.”
Once again, it sounds like there might be more to this story. Darren over at Big Red Network speculates on some possibilities why Patrick could be on the outs with the coaching staff, but then just as quickly rejects any chance that the coaching staff could be at fault. Kind of inconsistent in my opinion, since we simply don't know anything other than what Patrick has said. If you are going to reject Patrick's story and start speculating as to what is actually the cause, you've got to be open-minded to consider all possibilities. Especially when the answer could be "all of the above".

The UNO Mavs hockey team gave up another goal in the final minute of regulation tonight at Michigan State, losing the opening game of the best-of-three series. UNO's next loss will be the last game of the season. Tough break for UNO, with Scott Parse and Juha Uotila out of the game tonight with injuries; they'll need to find a way to win tomorrow night and then again Sunday. On the positive side, UNO has been playing much better lately on Saturday's than on Friday's.

Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports have an interesting article about how Omaha's three hockey teams may be a crowd. ESPN's Barry Melrose, the man keeping the mullet alive, feels that if there ever was a market that could support three hockey teams, it would be Omaha:
"The market will determine who stays. Omaha's situation is rare, for sure. If Omaha ends up supporting three teams, that says it's a great sports town, not just a great hockey town.''
Personally, I think that it's going to be tough for three teams to survive in this market, let alone thrive. Especially with the casual sports fan jumping on the Creighton bandwagon. There simply aren't enough die-hard hockey fans in this area to support three teams... you have to grow the audience for hockey. The Lancers have the tradition of 20 years to work from, and UNO has the alumni base of a school with 15,000 students now competing against the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. The OAK's have ... umm... a cool logo, I guess.

I see that the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights now acknowledge that they are losing millions of dollars in this experiment... though they should have seen this coming. And they aren't quite ready to throw in the towel...yet... (Personally, I thought the OAK's would be gone this summer, but it looks like they'll give it one more shot.) But if the Knights are going to survive, they have to quit trying to sell tickets to the fans of other hockey teams, and start finding fans of their own. Sure, there are some people who can't get enough hockey, but that's a limited audience.

In the end, I still believe that Omaha is better off without the Knights...especially with the possibility of the Penguins relocating to Kansas City. (The arrival of the Pens and Sidney Crosby to KC will certainly increase awareness of the sport around here.) Three teams dilute the audience for each team, and lightly attended events simply don't have much atmosphere. Even worse, the casual sports fan gets the idea that Omaha doesn't care for hockey since the all of the teams play in front of a lot of empty seats... when in fact the opposite is true. Omaha loves hockey... it just has more hockey than it probably can handle at this point.

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