As cityhockeyfever wrote about earlier today, Friday was "Make it Seven Day" in Hamilton. Complete with rally, corporate sponsorship, international media coverage and offers of beer, 3500 (according to police estimates) showed up to voice their support for a team in Hamilton. While sifting through the news coverage of the event, there really didn't seem to be very much. And what little there was didn't seem to be all that gung ho about it. Especially when the Canadian Press runs a headline like "Hundreds show up at rally" that doesn't seem as though anyone's trying to sell people on the event. That same headline was on the Globe and Mail, Sportsnet and the story was on TSN, though with a different headline. Combine that with the fact that Mr. Balsillie didn't even attend the event himself, but rather had a spokesperson read a prepared statement to the crowd and it's starting to look a bit like people aren't paying as much attention as they once were.
Other than the Canadian Press article, i've been hard pressed to find anything about the event and how it went. Makeitseven.ca hasn't updated anyone about it. The editorials about how great the rally was and how it really showed everyone how much support is there haven't materialized. Even the comments on the major canadian papers have turned in the last few days. (Something I never thought possible.) It seems now that while Balisille had quite a bit of momentum with Ontario in general to bring a team there, that the fans and media have woken up to the fact that his PR campaign is just that. This was never about making Canada better, bring a team back home or making a stronger hockey league. It was about one rich guy and his attorney that wanted their own plaything and wanted it now.
Here's a sample of comments from the Globe and Mail to illustrate my point:
Hamilton's population is over 500,000. If even 3500 showed up that's about the population of the downtown area. If you have seen downtown Hamilton then you will know what l mean when l say at least half of that 3500 were there and didn't even know it. But that's okay Balsillie wasn't there either. If it wasn't all talk before,it sure is now. Wake up Hamilton,the dreams over...again
The fact that Mr. Balsillie put so fourth so much money and effort and tried to impassion so many people and doesn't even show up to his own rally is pretty classless. My respect has gone down a few notches.
Jim Balsillie not showing up at this really really sticks in my craw and highlights what has been a concern for me in this from the beginning and continues to leave a bad taste in my mouth. If Jim Balsillie wants to bring a hockey team to Canada for the fans in an act of benevolence as a hockey fan and patriot as he keeps proclaiming, then why go about it in a way that satisfies his ego more than it satisfies the goal? The longer this goes on, the longer it appears that it's less about the fans and more about Balsillie. To hype up a Make It Seven Day, encourage the fans to show up and send a message...and NOT show up yourself is just really disrespectful to the fans to ask them to do something that was not important enough to do himself. It was a PRIME opportunity to thank Hamilton hockey fans and Make It Seven supporters for their support. The more I see, the more I want to change the tune from Go Jim to Go Away Jim. I'm all for another team in Canada but I'm sure not liking how the fans appear to be being played in this one -Conqueror
While I know newspaper comments aren't the single best source of information. (just check out our local rag) It's interesting to see one of the places that, up until last week, was full of comments about how great it was going to be to have an NHL team, now saying that this whole thing hasn't gone well and that the team will likely get a new owner to keep the team in Phoenix. Does that mean that the whole of Canada is on our side? Of course not, but even though Balsillie has vowed to keep on fighting for the team, his fan and media support is surely erroding and that certainly can't hurt our cause.