Larry Tanenbaum's apology on behalf of the board of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment needs to be analyzed to be understood.
He begins by thanking "you" for your "unwavering passion and loyalty" to the Leafs. By doing so, he clearly sets a hierarchical tone for this letter found on the Leaf's website -- he being the boss, and we the fan and consumer. It is a wise move, similar to Crest expressing appreciation for our regular brushing with their product. Interestingly, in his next line, "Like every fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs," Tanenbaum aligns and endears himself with the regular folks who pay a tidy little fortune to attend the very disappointing Leaf Games. In the first paragraph, Tanenbaum wisely switches his identification from owner to fan letting us know he is suffering too.
He goes on to say, "The Toronto Maple Leafs are a public trust with the greatest fans in the world." Wikipedia defines public trust as follows: "The concept of the public trust....is that within the public lies the true power and future of a society; therefore, whatever trust the public places in its officials must be respected." One would think Tanenbaum is suggesting, we the fans, have some say in the construction and future of the team.
While it is true that a mass protest and refusal to attend Leaf games would likely shift ownership and management direction, the truth is the Leafs are a company, run by a board of directors -- and quite profitable at that. While the apology issued by Tanenbaum is a nice thing to do -- referred to by one tweeter as '"classy" -- this particular line is simply not true. Leaf ownership has shown time and time again that they do not take the public into consideration when determining their plans or price points -- the most expensive in the hockey world.
Leaf's nation has been dying for a real star, like Rick Nash, to join the team for many years. They have voiced their opinion on blogs, tweets and phone-in shows, and then waited patiently until the trade deadline. It came and went and public trust was once again eroded. The team did not respond to the community's outcry.
The third paragraph is the most difficult to understand. Tanenbaum states, "Ownership believes in the plan for the Maple Leafs." In that same paragraph he writes, "We are 100% committed to ensuring we ice a team that competes with the NHL's best." These two statements appear to be contradictory. The plan mapped out by Brian Burke, obviously with ownership's stamp of approval, didn't work.
If this is the plan Tanenbaum is referring to, how are we to take this apology? If it is not his "100% commitment" to creating a team that is competitive in the best hockey league in the world, now would have been a good time to let us, the fans, know how it might look. Clearly, Burke is here to stay as well as most of the 2011/2012 lineup.
The apology falls flat at its conclusion. Once again, Tanenbaum hurls accolades at we, the fans (which now includes him), by saying, "Maple Leafs are privileged to have such passionate and loyal fans. We do not take that for granted. " This is the second time Tanenbaum compliments the people paying the gate and adding millions to the coiffeurs of a very weak team, in the hottest hockey market, after missing the playoffs seven years in a row. It's like the minister handing around the hat during services, thanking the parishioners for their generosity, while rain drops drip through the broken church roof once again.
The apology letter issued by Tanenbaum was a decent thing to do. He might have considered, however, including general manager Brian Burke's signature on it, and even the captain Dion Phaneuf's, to enhance the effectiveness of the message. Further, in a press conference, the team's coach said he hadn't seen the letter before it was posted. He should have.
Words however, at this point are not enough. Like the New York Mets who have lowered seasons tickets for 2012, it would behoove Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment to do the same for single tickets and the exorbitant cost of ACC food and their licensed sporting goods.
A more sincere apology at this point in the lives of Leaf's fan would be felt if our team's ownership sacrificed something of their own, and that would likely mean cash.