Strange news out of New York today, as a report has surfaced that the NHL could actually wrest the New York Rangers from the grasp of the MSG (Madison Square Garden) group. MSG is owned and operated by the Dolan family, a group of men whose names alone elicit the same raw, visceral hatred among Ranger fans as the name "Voldemort" does for the student body of Hogwarts.
When I forwarded the article to my Ranger fan buddy Eric, he replied dryly that he hoped that the Dolans and Bettman might "off themselves like in the end of Reservoir Dogs."
Oh, and if I could extend the Reservoir Dogs analogy, the cop who gets tied to a chair, doused in gasoline, has his ear sliced off, and eventually shot to death would be your average New York Knicks fan after this season . (The Dolan's also run the Knicks.)
Apparently, the Dolans have sued the NHL for maintaining a league wide consistency over all NHL team websites, claiming that it violates anti-trust laws and the NHL has responded by threatening disciplinary action for challenging the league constitution.
The NHL team sites are all functional and good looking, if a bit boring, but any team run site is going to have the interests of the team at heart and not print any negative information that might hurt ticket sales. All that seemed fine with me- so what do the Dolans want to do differently?
There isn't anything in the story about WHY the Dolans want to challenge the NHL's website consistency rules, but upon a quick perusal of both the New York Rangers site, and as a sample group, the Boston Bruins or New Jersey Devils sites, the Rangers site has a noticeable difference.
Up on the top of the Rangers site, under the NHL network links and above the consistent looking team website content there are the following links:
* |Madison Square Garden
* |Radio City Music Hall
* |WaMu Theater at MSG
* |Beacon Theatre
* |The Chicago Theatre
* |MSG Insider
* |NY Knicks
* |NY Liberty
All of these are Dolan holdings, and no such similar link list appears for either the Devils or Bruins. My guess is, the NHL would much rather have the Ranger fans who come to the Rangers team page clicking on links that are NHL properties, as opposed to links that are not. I'm guessing the league told the Dolans they couldn't promote their personal holdings on an NHL website, seeing as the presence of a link to the New York Liberty might distract a Ranger fan from clicking on one of the NHL approved sites, like, you know, Poni23.com, the official website of Alexei Ponikarovsky (Now featuring an actual sculpture of Ponikarovsky's hand, for only $199.99 Canadian!)
I can't imagine that the NHL will actually remove the Rangers from the Dolan Empire, but for the benefit of my Ranger fan pals, here's hoping.
Still, though- if and when this debate fades away, it will be interesting to see if that link list atop NY Rangers dot com fades with it.
I'm betting it will.