Saw Brad's article today, thought I'd share. I wouldn't do much fact checking, my sources are "things I thought I heard once."
Mr. Cuban, first let me congratulate you on your recent Championship. While I am not a huge NBA fan I have always been a fan of your ownership style and business savvy, which is why I write to you today. The publicity of your recent attempts to purchase other sports franchises, can reasonably lead one to believe that you enjoy the trials and tribulations associated with owning a sports team and that you believe there is money to be made through professional sports.
The purpose of my letter to you is to introduce to you a professional sports team that is currently for sale that may not been on your radar. That team being the St. Louis Blues, of the National Hockey League.
I know that you are an avid sports fan and have read some of your ideas for better promoting the NHL and think that while it may not be as appealing as a NFL or MLB team, the NHL has positioned itself well for future success. And, I also know that the Dallas Stars are looking for new ownership and that your name has been linked to rumors as a possible buyer, and that would seem to be the natural fit if you were to delve into the Hockey arena (pun intended). But please hear me out.
The St. Louis Blues were founded during the NHL’s original expansion in 1967. The team made it to the Stanley Cup Finals each of its first three years, but was swept each year. We have never been back.
The owner of those Blues teams was Sid Salomon. Sid was a local business man who was convinced by his son to make a bid for the Blues and while it took some convincing, once Sid became owner he went all out. Perhaps some of these accounts of Sid will remind you of someone you know.
In April of 1969 Sports Illustrated wrote about his relationship with his players: "The Salomon's tender loving care notoriously extends to the Blues players. Any man who does something to enhance the team's name - scores three goals in a game, makes the All-Star team, plays a major role in a key victory - gets a gold wristwatch. Not any gold wristwatch, mind you, but a $750 Patek Philippe.”
When Red Berenson scored 6 goals in one game in 1969 he was rewarded with a 1969 station wagon, with a canoe strapped to the top and a 20 gauge shot gun inside.
When other owners expressed their concern about how Mr. Salomon was running his team he replied “We're not trying to tell or show anyone else how to run their clubs. We paid $2 million for this franchise, and we're entitled to run it the way we please.” His brash style made him a fan favorite in St. Louis, and his players shared the fan’s adoration. The Blues goalie Jacque Plant commented “ to me...with other teams, there is a wall between the owners and players. That is not true here...they are interested in us not just as hockey players, but as human beings. So we put out extra for them."
So there may be a similarity or two between you and the Blues original owner, so what? How about some similarities between the St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Mavericks?
The Dallas Mavericks of the 1980’s were a fairly solid team, competed in a tough conference, had some success but never could quite get over the hump. Much like the Blues, except the Blues inability to take the next step spanned two plus decades. From 1980-2004 the Blues made the playoffs every year. We won the President’s Trophy in 99-2000 with the league’s best regular season record but were bounced in the first round of the playoffs. In 2001 we reached the Western Conference finals only to lose to the eventual cup champions.
The 1990’s for the Mavericks weren’t so hot, they never made the playoffs. But their poor performance allotted them high draft picks which allowed them to acquire young talent to build with. Then in 2001 with a solid nucleus of players and a new ownership willing to invest the time, money and enthusiasm the Mavericks returned to the playoffs. From there, there was no looking back being perennial contenders in the Western Conference and finally achieving the ultimate goal as NBA Champions this year.
The post-lockout era for the Blues mimics very closely the 1990 Mavericks. In 2005 The Blues had the worst record in Hockey and missed the play-offs for the first time in 25 years. The 06-07 and 07-08 years were not much better, missing the playoffs in each of those seasons. In the 08-09 season we had a record setting second half of the season and squeaked into the playoffs, only to be swept by the Canucks in the first round.
While these recent years have been difficult for the Blues franchise and their fans, their poor performance resulted in high draft picks, which has allowed us to acquire a solid core of young talent. I think if you were to ask those in the know what they thought of the Blues, they would tell you that they are only a few pieces away from being perennial contenders.
The Blues of today are much like the Mavericks of the early 2000’s ready to make that leap to greatness but just missing one or two pieces.
I believe the most important of those pieces is an owner who is willing to devote the time, money and enthusiasm necessary to lead the team over the hump, to greatness. The type of ownership that the franchise has lacked since its inaugural years, in Sid Salomon.
While I am not privy to all the “numbers” that would justify the purchase of the St. Louis Blues as a solid investment, I do know that The Blues sold out all of their 41 home games last year, a non-playoff year, and had the 4th highest TV viewership in the National Hockey League. So if you are worried about a beleaguered fan base, frustrated by the team’s recent lack of success, worry not. The Blues Fans are a loyal bunch, who believe in the management in place, coach and by in large the players on the roster. And while we may not be as maligned as the Cubs fan we are ready and anxious for our shot at the title.
I certainly understand that a letter from a fan would have little to no effect on your decision to inquire into Blues ownership. In fact I am not even delusional enough to believe that this email will make it to your desk. But if it does I hope the correlations I have pointed out between The Blues and Mavericks franchises at very least peak your interest.
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further should you want any further fan’s perspective.
Thanks for your time and Congrats again.