T Dog’s Think Tank: Blackhawks slipping back to old ways?

susannah-collins 2An update to Friday’s story regarding Susannah Collins:

As speculated, Collins’ firing was indeed ordered by Blackhawks’ owner Rocky Wirtz who, according to Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune Saturday, sent a letter to CSN Chicago, showing his concern about those SportsNutz videos she was in during 2009 and 2010. The copy of the letter was cc’ed to Jerry Reinsdorf (owner of the Bulls and White Sox) and Tom Ricketts, owner of the Cubs – both whose teams are principals in CSN Chicago, with the Blackhawks and Comcast/NBCUniversal the other.

But it was Chicago Sports Media Watch’s Paul Banks who first pointed out on Friday it was the Blackhawks who were instrumental in getting rid of Collins all along. Interestingly enough, the organization was not even aware of those four-year old videos until this week – after Collins slipped up on the air Tuesday night.

Reaction to Collins’ firing has been negative – mainly toward the Blackhawks organization – one who has turned around its negative reputation over the five years from a team who didn’t care about its fanbase to one of the most fan-friendly teams in sports, propelling Rocky Wirtz – son of the unpopular Bill Wirtz (you know, the guy who used refused to televise home games?) – to rock star status, reaching its zenith with the Stanley Cup in 2010.

But much like it is with Mayor Rahm Emanuel (or the Chicago White Sox, whose 2005 World Series victory is now a trivia question), the honeymoon is over. In fact, it ended quite some time ago for Wirtz, who he and 29 other owners locked out the NHL players last fall, led by NHL putz Gary Bettman.

I guess Wirtz didn’t want the organization to be “embarrassed” by the Sports Nutz videos Collins did. I guess this puts the Blackhawks above whoever is running American Idol these days, where dipshit Nicki Manaj keeps her job, despite arriving late, feuding with fellow judges and contestants, and lowering the ratings to a point where it gets beaten by Wheel Of Fortune. Oh yeah, Rocky. Pat yourself on the back. You’re organ-i-zation is now better than a bunch of idiots running (or some would say fixing) a televised karaoke contest.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks – not to mention every other sports team – is raising their ticket prices, with Comcast SportsNet, ESPN, TimeWarner Cable SportsNet and other sports cable networks paying outrageous sums of money to these teams and the leagues they play in while our cable bills keep skyrocketing every year – not to mention these teams keep asking for more “public subsidies” (another word for taxpayer money) to build – or “enhance” their facilities.

And as for Collins’ SportsNutz’s videos? While those YouTube clips are questionable, at least they’re tamer than anything hip-hop artists like Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross, and others have on the video-sharing site – such as Chief Keef running around with guns. Leave it to people like Wirtz – and these other old, out-of-touch dinosaurs to misunderstand what social media is all about – the same type of people who are threatening to move the broadcast networks’ signals to cable because someone developed the technology to transmit them over the Internet.

Yes, it would be easy for those broadcasters to strike a deal with Aereo, but its all about CONTROL – the broadcast nets want to control everything – the very same thing the Chicago Blackhawks and other sports teams are trying to do with their own “cable networks”, which we the viewers are paying through the nose for.

And its also worth noting about how the local media has reacted to all of this. While Rachel Shteir’s slam of Chicago two weeks ago generated a huge outcry from Chicago media types, where were they when Collins was fired? Where’s Carol Marin’s three-minute editorial on this matter? (oh, that’s right – she’s a Comcast employee.) Yeah, a panel on Chicago Tonight wouldn’t have time to bother with this issue.

Yup, this is how businesses are now run in the era of media consolidation. Today’s media conglomerates have no backbone or spine, valuing “relationships with partners” than their own employees – while the public yawns. Where were the protests when Comcast merged with NBCUniversal? Where was President Obama on this? Was he too busy watching ESPN while filling out some stupid bracket?

In any case, Big Media wins again, and in this case, Susannah Collins loses.

Something is wrong when Susannah Collins loses her job because of a bunch of forgotten videos and Nicki Manaj is still allowed to embarrass herself in front of dwindling audiences every week. But one thing is certain: both Rocky Wirtz and Idol showrunner Nigel Lythgoe have a bunch of angry fanbases to deal with – if they care to deal with them at all.