Saturday, July 9, 2016

WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR - SAINT PAUL (C)

Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR – SAINT PAUL (PART B) in July, 2016.]

Later hockey history of the area proved that was a flawed strategy and culminated in utter failure a few times. One example was the cheap ownership of the Minnesota North Stars who ended up leaving town. Just because a city, region, or nation has a strong support base at the lower echelons in any sport doesn’t equal automatic success at the pro level. That is without an extreme amount of effort. Mekkar knows about this firsthand.

The emerging young man was informed enough to know that even many large corporations in many fields have declined in a big way or have lost market share. Some of those companies completely crashed outright or were taken over by rivals because the organization got fat, lazy, and happy. Mekkar was mindful that getting complacent and staying in one’s own secure place by becoming very set in their ways of doing things is a dangerous place to be. Mekkar is of the belief that if you not going forward you are going backward, you just don’t stay at a plateau for very long. [Confucius; Yo-Yo Ma]

Awhile ago one example would be International Business Machines (IBM or nicknamed Big Blue) comes to mind. It was well publicized that the corporate culture and behavior was in a manner of assured continued dominance in a particular industry. Being convinced that your business product or service will always be wanted by the public at the same level as before is not wise. The world expects some change and improvement. An environment that dismisses or does not consider any new ideas, possible positive changes are always stymied and make it very vulnerable.

A lack of forward-looking strategy results in inertia, which sets in so that anything different becomes almost non-existent there. By the time a wake up call is needed or when innovation or change is later required to still be profitable and thus stay on top of the market it might be too late. Action decisions are very slow or lacking altogether and any positive future outcome to change it is too little too late. Next step, an undesirable fall or decline begins.

On the highest level of the professional hockey industry the NHL dominated the scene. They suffered the same malaise prior to this era that the NFL and NBA did and a sports revolution emerged with challenges to the establishment. It would not be possible in today’s climate. [Michael Murphy of the Houston Chronicle – The ABA Way; remembertheaba.com – Steve “Snapper” Jones comment] The National Hockey League never expected the WHA to be a threat or get started at all in the first place. They relied on their stranglehold and control of the major pro hockey field. They had always triumphantly beaten off all previous adversaries to its lofty heightened place atop the hockey realm in the past. [Wikipedia]

Like mighty empires and businesses that have long since past. The NHL ignored many of the trends of the upstart league at the time. The big boys on the block had become arrogant and suffered from Mekkar called cockiness disease. Most of the earlier contestants attempted little that was refreshing and new in comparison until the WHA came along. Very little seemed to have been learned from a recent threat from the Western Hockey League (1952–1974) in the late nineteen sixties that caused expansion into new markets as a response. [Wikipedia; Official Says Hockey Would Go Big Here article by Charles Curtis - Los Angeles Times, 1959]

Even though the young league (WHA) lasted less than a decade, the game of hockey and sports world in general was changed forever. Some rules and ideas that originated from these rival circuits during this period are still in use today in the big leagues many years later. [billsportsmap.com; Wikipedia; hockeyfights.com; whahockey.com; Playing Hockey the World Over - … wha.htm]

After doing his homework before the tour and reading local media sources on the road, he would try to compare and confirm statements. Mekkar was becoming educated by adopting a method of checking out multiple sources and making up his own mind. He was not just going to accept what one person said as fact. His parents installed into him the premise that reading and always learning something new make you smarter. The teen thought to himself when the new outfit attempted to put any of their franchises where there was already an established presence they failed miserably. The big brother in a particular city had it in its grasp already. The Minnesota capital was the only exception for a period of time but it did not last.

Big boy circuit (NHL) reaction to market penetration by the new guys through the granting and acceptance of expansion teams are not enough to ensure a viable product. Use of lawsuits by way of the crooked justice system failed. A tactic of hastily awarded expansion clubs in some cities to stem the tide did drive the rivals out of certain territories. It only flourished temporarily and rarely an advantageous long term solution. Mekkar thinks that doing things reactively because you have to instead of being proactive - never works in the long run.

The World Hockey Association (WHA) was determined to change the old way of conducting business and be progressive as well as innovative. The same people who were first behind this project were the same individuals that began another pro rival league (the American Basketball Association) a few years before. Eventually some of those clubs were merged into the well rooted loop. [Wikipedia] It was not all rosy because those individuals were less fortunate in a few other sports endeavors.

This duration in time was an era of cultural experimentation and the desire to try new avenues for most people. The exceptions to the forward moving mood were the firmly planted and entrenched big businesses and industries. Plus, government entities who are always resistant to change of any kind. The status quo always looks good to them if there is continual growth in their influence, scope, and power. The rebel league [Rebel League by Ed Willes] did much better and experienced more success as a crowd draw than expected. Especially in cities where there was no current, at that time, major league pro hockey franchises. In some cases no higher level pro clubs had existed for quite a while. Plus, the NHL itself was not planning on serving those markets either. [billsportsmaps.com; whahockey.com; Wikipedia]