AHL Eastern Conference Semifinals
Where: OnonDaga County War Memorial Arena, Syracuse, New York
When: 7:00 PM EDT
Media: 1260 AM (radio)
The Syracuse Crunch have the potential to close out the AHL Semifinal round tonight with a victory over the Springfield Falcons. Taking their dominant 3-0 series lead into tonight, the focus should be on the Top Gun line of Ondrej Palat, Tyrler Johnson and Richard Panik and their ability to score not only goals but many MANY goals.
Yet, that might not be the case.
The focus should be on Springfield's goalie situation too; can Curtis McElhinney find his center and his focus and stop a few Crunch shots on the way and bring the Falcons back into this series? Yeah, that drama is there too... That narrative is something to explore and examine as the game progresses, but it's not the focus... At least to some.
No, the focus is on attendance, where it shouldn't be.
Wednesday's shutout win for the Crunch drew a small crowd -- somewhere north of 3,200 for the 6,000+ seat War Memorial. No one would be making this a story if not for Howard Dolgon, Crunch owner, voicing his displeasure with the small crowd. He went off on a rant on Wednesday, post game, and continued to stand by it on Thursday.
That violated the most basic rules of running a public business - don't alienate your customers via criticism. Shaming fans will sooner compell people not to show up than to be shamed into buying more tickets that directly profit you.
I think Tampa Bay fans can relate to this? The Rays? The Bucs? Shame, shame... Yes, the Crunch product is akin to the Lightning of 2004 - a potential champion. The difference being this is the minor leagues in a college town that is smaller than the greater Tampa Bay metro area. That's not trying to criticise Syracuse as so much defend it.
Residents have lives outside of hockey and sports, and with fewer peoeple to draw from -- even playoff games won't always lure capacity crowds.
It's not liek the Crunch are at the bottom of the AHL in playoff attendance. Everyone is drawing small crowds. It's not something to get worked up over. It's also not something to shame your patrons over either.
But I digress. Gametime is 7 PM and I've ran long. Game on.