Saturday, December 23, 2006
First, in case you have not heard, here is the breaking news that inspired this entry: Jim Balsillie discussed the possibility of bringing an NHL franchise to Hamilton with Gary Bettman last March (Paul Waldie, Globe and Mail, December 22nd, 2006).
Upon finding out what most of us had suspected, that Jim Balsillie was the person behind the mystery group trying to bring an NHL franchise to Hamilton, I became sad, very sad. Not because of Balsillie’s heroic act, but once again Hamilton was an arms length from landing an NHL team. It made me wonder if there is a circumstance, if any, that would land Hamilton an NHL team (apart from relocating our city to somewhere in the States, like Utah). When Copps Coliseum was the best arena in North America, there was too much politicking against such a move. Now that Copps is aged and looking tired (though it wouldn’t take much to raise this phoenix), Waldie reported that Bettman would consider a Hamilton team if Balsillie built a new arena. My brain could not believe what my eyes were reading, but my brain needed to make sense of what was happening. An epiphany: Hamiltonians are the dogs of the NHL.
Hamiltonians are the dogs of the NHL
So you might be thinking ‘I’m a Hamiltonian, but learned helplessness is not a concept I know all to well’. With some explaining, I assure you that you do. What has happened over the last, say, 20 years, has been a natural experiment following the behaviourist tradition. In the 1960’s, Martin Seligman conducted a series of experiments to better understand the causes of depression. There were two conditions. In the first condition, a dog was placed in a cage where a sound signaled the onset of an electrical shock. When the sound was made, the dog learned to avoid the shock by jumping over a small barrier to the other side. In the second condition, a dog was placed in the same cage, sound and shock were paired together, but this time there was nowhere for the dog to go to avoid the shock. Over and over again the sound was made, the shock was elicited, and the dog had to sit there and take it. Eventually, the dog just laid down and at least received the shock in a comfortable position. This sad response is learned helplessness.
Nothing Hamiltonians have done or tried to do over the past 20 years changed the outcome—there was always a reason the NHL would not go to Hamilton, even if these reasons were addressed. We built a state-of-the art arena, but the NHL would not go to Hamilton because of territorial rights to Toronto and Buffalo. We can get a wealthy owner (who could deal with territorial rights), but the NHL would not go to Hamilton because Copps Coliseum is old and a new arena needs to be built. We organized the best bid for an NHL franchise, but the NHL would not go to Hamilton because they wanted to negotiate how to pay the NHL. We can… well, you get the point (if not, see http://hamiltontigers.blogspot.com/2006/10/bringing-nhl-back-to-hamilton-synopsis.html). What we have learned from this NHL pursuit, my friends, is helplessness.
The consequence of helplessness is complacency, and I worry that too many Hamiltonians have become complacent when they do not have to be. The philosophy of an American-centric bureaucracy should not impede the interests of Canadians in general, nor Hamiltonians in particular. Hockey is Canada’s game, and all of us, from the Dofasco employee, to the Mayor, to business leaders, to all Canadians, should be lobbying the NHL to give us fair representation in a league that was ours.
Despite this rather depressing story, keep this in mind: we were dogs once before—Bulldogs in fact.
Jim Balsillie: Thank-you for your interest in bringing back Hamilton’s Tigers. You will be successful and revered if this ever works out.
Gary Bettman: You have an opportunity to make the NHL great, not good. Please learn from a successful businessperson like Jim Balsillie—a person who believes the NHL would work in Hamilton.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Why else would he care so much about keeping the Penguins from relocating to
If Canadians want more teams representing their cities, and they have the investors to own them, why can’t they? People from
So many questions, so few honest answers.
Many people cite lucrative TV deals as a reason for keeping teams in well-known, large-market, American cities. But if people in these cities need classes to learn about what a period is (e.g.
1. I am referring to the latest tactics used by Bettman to ensure the Penguins stay in
The latest reports suggest Balisillie withdrew his offer because starting a week ago, Bettman made ridiculous demands that he agree to keep the team in Pittsburgh under any circumstances, meaning regardless of the Isle of Capri result (who promised to build a new arena if granted a gaming license). Well, if Balsillie planned on moving the team to K-W, then this is great news for Hamiltonians. If his plan was to move them to Hamilton--it's no suprise given our luck.
I have a feeling this Balsillie saga is far from over. Stay tuned!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
When I started searching the internet for information about the Hamilton Tigers, the first thing that struck me as particularly odd was the mangled looking tiger face for a logo (Figure 1). If you run a Google.com images search, you will notice that this logo is all over the internet—even Wikipedia.org used this image as the official logo of the Hamilton Tigers (it has been changed recently). Could this one-eyed Willy really be
If someone has a better image of the original logo, could you please pass it my way. The one I have posted is a picture of a picture in a book, and so the quality is not spectacular.
Prowling Tiger Logo (1921-1923): Animal Cracker or Regal Tiger?
In Season 2, the Hamilton Tigers switched their logo from a growling tiger to a prowling one. Once again, it looks like someone commissioned a kindergarten class to provide a rendition of the original. The image circulating on the internet looks like an orange animal cracker with some black lines drawn on it (Figure 3). Thank goodness for
H Logo (1923-1925)
The H logo is my favorite not just because of its simplicity, but because its ability to be replicated is a sign of resiliency. It was also the logo worn when the Green brothers arrived (star players Shorty Green and Red Green), and when the Tigers came first in the league. The only modification of this logo from one year to the next was going from completely vertical lines at the end of the horizontal bar to angled ones (Figure 5).
Official Team Colours: Yellow or Orange?
There appears to be a discrepancy between the official colours mentioned in cyberspace and the ones used in Wesley and Wesley’s book. The former believes the colours are black and orange, whereas the latter says the colours are black and yellow. I have no way to confirm this, and even after doing some digging I could not get access to articles from the 1920s that might have mentioned what the true colours are. If anyone has more information on this topic, please write a comment or send it my way.
If the Hamilton Tigers were to make a comeback, I would love to see the H logo as the primary logo, with the leaping tiger on the shoulders. Perhaps my next article will elaborate on this idea. Stay tuned!
*Original images from Hamilton's Hockey Tigers
Friday, October 13, 2006
FIRST EXPANSION BID
1986—Doomed from the start?
The earliest reports I could find of a possible NHL expansion team going to
October 27, 1989
When people from August 15, 1990—The Race Begins
August 15, 1990—The Race Begins
*dropped out before formal bid presentation
August-December 1990: Preparing Bids
Individuals involved with
1. A building (Copps Coliseum, check)
2. 20 year lease in place (check)
3. Local owner (Ron Joyce, check)
4. Owner with deep pockets (Owner of Tim Hortons, check)
5. Minimum of 10,000 season tickets sold (14,000 sold in 24 hours, check)
6. Market that would support hockey team (50 mile radius, 5 million people, check)
7. Corporate support (70 corporate companies committed to purchasing 70 corporate boxes for a minimum of 5 years, check)
December 5, 1990—Bid Presentations
That night, at a party hosted by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, four NHL governors began a movement to focus on bids that did not deviate from the financial plan. The only two teams who guaranteed $50 million up front were
December 6, 1990—Black Thursday
The NHL announced that the winning bids came from
The announcement sparked outrage in
Speculation on the causes of this result began to hit the presses. Reports coming from
December 12, 1990
The Buffalo Sabres organization placed a half page advertisement in the Hamilton Spectator that read: “The Buffalo Sabres wish to assure the hockey fans of the City of Hamilton that neither the Sabres nor the Toronto Maple Leafs in any way ‘blocked’ or ‘vetoed’ the granting of a franchise to Hamilton”. The Sabres declined to make any further comments on the topic. It sounded more like damage control, especially considering about 15% of
FIRST RELOCATION HOPE
April 28, 1993
The owner of the Edmonton Oilers, Peter Pocklington, gave the City of
Even at this time, Hamiltonians were weary of being used as a bargaining chip. The prescient Dominic Agostino (Hamilton Alderman) said “all [Pocklington] is doing is raising people's hopes and expectations and trying to exploit Hamilton and our citizens for his own purposes" (Toronto Star, Apr 28, 1993). Memories of Black Thursday must have still been lingering in the back of Dominic’s mind.
July 5, 1993
Pocklington decided to keep the team in
SECOND RELOCATION HOPE
May 6, 1996
Mayor Bob Morrow requested cash from the Federal Minister of Finance Paul Martin and Ontario Premiere Bob Rae to help lure the troubled Winnipeg Jets to
May 13, 1996
This week, a group of Hamiltonians, including Bob Morrow, Gabe Macaluso, and a group of American invenstors, traveled to
SECOND EXPANSION BID
The second expansion bid was not as eventful as the first. This time around the Hamilton Spectator gave the city the $100,000 expansion application fee. Mayor Bob Morrow and his team of city councilors traveled to
THIRD AND FOURTH RELOCATION HOPE
January 25, 2003
Richard Rodier (works for law firm in
FIFTH RELOCATION HOPE
An article in the Star Ledger (Oct 8, 2006) stated that at one point, New Jersey Devils owner John McMullen threatened to move the team to Hamilton, until he got a better lease from the Meadowlands of course. I could not find a date for this though. Now that I look back at this exercise, I could have saved myself some time by outlining teams who did not threaten a
SIXTH RELOCATION HOPE
In an interview with the Hamilton Mountain News, Hamilton Councilor Terry Whitehead mentioned that HHC Acquisition Corp. were in talks with owners of the St. Louis Blues. No other developments have been reported on this lead.
SEVENTH RELOCATION HOPE
The Pittsburgh Penguins are the latest player in the ‘move the team to
Richard Rodier once again emerged on behalf of HHC Acquisition Corp. and paid Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. $250,000 for exclusive rights to bring an NHL franchise to Copps Coliseum.
Deadline for HHC Acquisition Corp.’s rights to Copps Coliseum was June 30th, 2006, so they paid an additional $50,000 to extend their rights for another year.
July 11, 2006
Reports out of
Other interested groups included: (1) Andy Murstein (presidenet of Medallian Corp.) and Pittsburgh native Mark Cuban (who owns the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks); (2) Sam Fingold (owner of Kenyon Investments) who has ties with Kansas City; (3) Jim Renacci (Ohio businessman and owner of Columbus Destroyers); and (4) Lawrence Gottesdiender (CEO Northland Investment Corp.) who was interested in bringing a team back to Hartford.
July 21, 2006
Not even ten days after a
September 16, 2006
When contacted by the Kitchener Record to comment on rumours surrounding his involvement, Jim Balsillie replied “I do not comment on speculation”.
September 18, 2006
September 19, 2006
Hamilton Spectator headline read “RIM’S Balsillie graduates to ‘no comment’ on NHL talk” (
October 6, 2006
Jim Balsillie purchases the Pittsburgh Penguins for $175 million. This event sparked many news articles and comments on sports forums debating the merits and possibility of moving a team to
Going back to Balsillie, at no time did he nor anyone else provide confirming evidence that he was linked to HHC.
October 13, 2006
HHC withdrew their rights to Copps Coliseum. Journalists discussed two possible explanations for this move. The first hypothesis is that Balsillie is still playing a game because his purchase still requires the NHL’s rubber stamp. By withdrawing their rights to Copps, Balsillie could alleviate any worries the NHL board of governors might have about his intent to move the team. Once they NHL approves the purchase, and the Isle of Capri deal falls through, Balsillie will make his move to
October 15, 2006
Balsillie answered questions for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette about possible places to relocate the Penguins. Here is what he said:
"Hamilton? Yeah, the [Toronto Maple] Leafs will be really supportive of that," he said. "Kansas City? I mean, come on. Now I've taken a 40-minute flight [to Pittsburgh] and made it two hours, and to an unproven market.
"They talk about Oklahoma [City]. It's like, puh-lease. And Portland? Puh-lease. Now I'm going from the frying pan into a big fire."
EIGHTH & NINTH RELOCATION HOPE
The saga continues with the Nashville Predators and now the Phoenix Coyotes. Too much going on--will update this section once we know the outcome of the bankruptcy auction. Good luck Balsillie and Hamilton!
Toronto Star (Feb 16, 1991)
Kitchener-Waterloo Record (Dec 13, 1990), Sabres purchase newspaper ad to deny they vetoed
Hamilton Spectator (Jan 25, 2003) Sens longshot for Hamilton, Ken Peters, E. 01
Star Ledger (Oct 8, 2006). A black cloud for Pens’ fans, Rich Chere.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
2. The second, more recent clip, comes from CBC's Ontario Today, hosted by Rita Celli. Here she chats with Hamilton City Councillor Terry Whitehead about the latest developments (it was taped just before Jim Balsillie bought the Pittsburgh Penguins). You'll need realplayer to hear this file.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
NHL’s Quebec Bulldogs, a team established in 1888, was sold to
December 22, 1920—
In ‘The Arena’—
Despite their good start, the Hamilton Tigers finished last, behind the Toronto St. Patricks, Ottawa Senators, and the Montreal Canadiens.
Tigers switch their uniform from vertical to horizontal stripes, and the logo from the growling tiger head to a prowling tiger. Despite some changes to the lineup, the team had another dismal season, finishing last.
The Hamilton Tigers acquired Art Ross as head coach. Not only would Art Ross would later be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the NHL trophy for the highest scorer bears his name. Unfortunately, this new and tough head coach could not improve
This season began with a third and final change to their jersey—horizontal lines remained on the sleeves, and the logo switched to a capital H with ‘TIGERS’ printed across the H’s horizontal bar. Also in this season, the arrival of brothers Red and Shorty Green kickstarted the Tigers’ turnaround. Though the Tigers ended up last in the standings, this year they were only 2 points behind the Toronto St. Patricks.
1924-1925 Season—It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
This season saw the NHL expand for the first time. This expansion was doubly significant because it was the first time an American city was given an NHL team. This team was the Boston Bruins.
Top of the League
More importantly for the Tigers, their first successful season ended with their winning the league. They edged the Toronto St. Patricks by 1 point for first place in the NHL. Celebrations, however, would end there.
On a train trip from
March 16, 1925
First rumour that the Tigers would be sold to a business from
March 17, 1925
Tigers players were still willing to go to court, so the owners gave up and paid the players. Unbelievable.
April 13, 1925
News sources in
September, 1925—Tigers’ Exit from
Secret negotiations between
I will conclude this section with two enduring quotes from the Hamilton Herald, as quoted in Wesley and Wesley (2005, pp. 82 & 85).
“Whether the players of the Hamilton NHL club are at fault or the management, the fact remains that Hamilton’s thousands of loyal hockey fans have been denied the chance to see the most important game of the NHL season—the [championship game] …. It’s the fans who make hockey possible, still they are not taken into consideration in time of trouble” (Hamilton Herald, March 14, 1925).
“The hockey season of 1924-1925 in
To learn more about the Hamilton Tigers and their brief yet rich history, I highly recommend Sam and David Wesley’s Hamilton’s Hockey Tigers (2005). This exceptional book will take you back to life in the 1920s and will leave you wondering how
Coming up… a timeline of attempts to bring the NHL back to
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Welcome to the Hamilton Tigers (c. 1920; 20??) blog. My interest in seeing
So, I want this blog to signal that interest still exists, but that we will no longer be complacent with unfair decisions or negative perceptions about giving Hamiltonians what they deserve.
In order to build this interest, I will use this blog to: (a) keep a running record of the latest news and gossip; (b) address any misperceptions about the City of Hamilton, its inhabitants, and the viability of a professional hockey time in Hamilton; (c) brainstorm some ideas of how a hockey team in Hamilton would look like; and (d) investigate the true motivations behind decisions related to keeping a team out of Hamilton. I would love to hear from you, and if you’re interested in posting your own thoughts, I am more than happy to consider them.
To all the pessimists who think I’m not being realistic, well, you may be right. Time will only tell. In the meantime, I plan on having fun with the idea. Besides, supporting a club is all about satisfying our need for sports entertainment, right? Mine just happens to be a club that doesn’t exist… yet.