Need New York Giants Tickets?

September 12, 2012

Just wanted to welcome new sponsor Ticket Liquidator to the fold. If you’re looking for NY Giants East Rutherford tickets they should be the first and only place you look.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

End Game

October 2, 2011

I will not be returning to do the blog in the 2011-12 season. 

I will still likely be covering some Titans games this season for The Trentonian, but I likely won’t be at enough games to be able to a blog the way it needs to be done…it simply did not make sense from a financial standpoint to continue.  Personally and professionally, it’s difficult to let it go.

I’ll do one last post as sort of a farewell…thanking everyone for the past three seasons.  But this is it for the ol’ blog.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Updating Things

September 20, 2011

The only update I really have for you right now is that I’ll be back with ECHL.com as their national alumni feature writer.  Please check out their website for features on Tim Thomas and Trevor Gillies from the past few days.  One is upcoming on George Parros.

Also, welcome aboard TicketLiquidator.com as a new sponsor.  They’ve got a nice selection of NJ Devils tickets that you can check out right here.

I have a feeling I’ll be doing some Titans games this year, but nothing for sure yet…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

What’s Going On…

August 4, 2011

What’s going on is…really, that I don’t know what’s going on.

Let me be as honest with you as I can.  With a lot of people from the Trenton Steel in place with the Trenton Titans, I wanted to basically do what I did for the Steel with the Titans.  I approached the team about this, and…long story short, it won’t be happening.  I can assure you I certainly don’t break the bank, but for a team at this level, a guy like me is a luxury so I certainly can understand and don’t fault them for their choice at all.

So, that puts my 2011-12 return in jeopardy.  I’d essentially already decided I wasn’t going to take any unpaid stuff anymore, as the Steel gig was, and that’s what this blog has been for three years.  There is no guarantee that I’d be back with The Trentonian this season as I have been for the past two, so outside of any gigs I pick up with them…that is likely all you’ll see of me in 2011-12.

I will, as a placeholder should things change, register a new Titans blog.  I’ll reveal the URL and all that stuff, and when it goes live, will ask that you redirect yourselves there.  I do want to cover as many games as possible for The Trentonian, and would likely still maintain a blog if I got enough games to warrant doing so.

I want to come back.  I do.  But I’m 28 and I still live at home.  Awkward, but true.  So, until something changes…that’s what’s going on.  I owe everyone who’s been reading this for the past three years the truth, and that’s where we’re at right now.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Press Conference Quotes, Thoughts…

July 30, 2011

– I spoke with new Trenton Titans GM Rich Lisk and exclusively to ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna after the press conference to reintroduce the team…

RICH LISK

“It was good that I made it through (the presser) without crying.  I was close.  No matter where I went when I left; I went to the Soul in 2005 and did the Steel and all that, no matter what and whoever was here, I always considered this to be my team.  And now, to be able to come back as managing partner and own a piece of the team, it’s a dream come true.  In my world of sports, this is a dream come true.  This is my team.  I helped build it from what it was, and now it’s back.”

“I never really came to any (Trenton Devils) games before, because I was up in Philadelphia and stuff…and I’m trying not to focus on anything in the past.  I’m focusing on the rebirth from here out.  They wanted to buy a team and have a developmental team, and it’s great that worked out.  We have a great relationship with them, and hopefully we will moving forward.”

“A lot of people said that (the market would be damaged by a previous team) with the Steel too, with the Lightning and stuff.  I never focus on the negatives, I’m going to focus on the positives.  I know what this was, I know what my abilities and my staff’s abilities are, so we’ll move forward and go forward on that one.”

“I think, in my opinion, this has got to be grassroots, grassroots, grassroots.  That was our big thing with the Titans.  I always talk about Scott Bertoli.  I would have Scott everywhere, and I pawned him off everywhere…but that makes sense, because every rink knew him, every kid at school got read a story from Scott Bertoli and became friendly with Scott Bertoli and they’d want to see Scott Bertoli play, and there he was.  I’m a big proponent of autograph sessions after games, and the guys walking through the front door of the building and signing autographs every night.  This is their team.  This is a community, and it has to be a community.”

“I don’t really know what (the Devils) did, I went to Scott’s ceremony and that was it, so I’ll focus on what we did.  I’m bringing back a lot of the stuff that we did…we used to do “Dinner With The Titans” where I’d have people bid on having dinner with the guys, and we’d go to a restaurant and they’d sit one-on-one and they’d talk and the guys would give them a gift and things like that.  Jersey auctions, where you can come on the ice and meet the player and get the jersey off their back.  Any promotions…every Sunday is going to be an autograph session.  I’m trying to do a deal where each Sunday is ice cream sundaes, and you can eat sundaes with the players.  The booster club was huge, huge, huge for us.  I’m bringing that back.  We used to have dinners at these banquet halls, and the players would get to know the fans.  I’m creating an advisory board of ten to 20 people strategically in the arena and around that make some sense, and they’re going to work with the front office staff.  They’re going to get out in the community and be part of our staff.  Those are the things we have to do to move it forward.”

“In two weeks, we got three hundred plus people on Facebook, they’ve sold over 150 season tickets, 50 partial tickets and all with no advertising, just Facebook and Twitter.  We had a 150 people show up today for this press conference all within two weeks, all without ever really saying we had anything until yesterday.  That, to me, is huge.”

BRIAN MCKENNA

(In regards to his comments that the organization was likely 3-4 years away from where it needs to be) “First and foremost, I think they need to re-connect with the community.  The fanbase, there’s a core base of fans here, but I think they have to re-establish the roots within the community and within the schools with youth hockey.  I think they have to broaden that fanbase to include a lot of entertainment fans.  This is a great facility and we’re within a 30 minute drive of about three million people, so there’s tons of people out there who are casual fans who are looking for an affordable, convenient night’s entertainment.  I believe this arena and this staff and the team on the ice are going to be able to make that happen.”

(On how personal this is for McKenna, given his roots in Trenton) “For me, it was personal because I was here in the beginning and I know how important the Titans were to the city back in those days.  And I also know that there is a core base of fans here.  We believed, from a league perspective, that there had to be hockey back here in Trenton.  This is a proud day, not only for me, but for the league to have them back.”

(On why the Devils didn’t work in Trenton) “I honestly believe it just was not a high enough priority within their organization.  Nothing more than that.  You can look back, I guess, and dissect what happened…but at this point, I think that’s the past and we’re looking forward.  From the league’s perspective, and I know from Rich’s perspective, I know it’s more important that we look at what we need to do and what they need to do moving forward to make sure this does succeed in the future.”

– Got a lot of people asking me about how the press conference went.  My answer: It was a press conference.  There wasn’t a whole lot of new information that came out of it…you already know that Lisk is the GM and Scott Bertoli (who received a mini-standing ovation upon his introduction) is serving as senior advisor of hockey operations and that the team will be affiliated with the Flyers.  John and Eileen Martinson, successful executives, are your owners under the “Blue Line Sports, LLC” banner.

No head coach has been named…officially…yet…and there is no immediate word on any sort of player moves…officially…yet.

– From a personal standpoint, it was meaningful and I’d go as far as to say moving to see there be legitimate interest and passion about hockey in that building again.  It flat out sucked covering the Trenton Devils some nights — although inarguably a great opportunity for me nonetheless — because you felt like you were working for yourself.  Looking out into the stands and seeing a few dozen people some nights made it miserable at times.

To get the feeling of excitement again…and to let myself think about what it might be like to work games there in 2011-12, it was nice. 

– However, it isn’t a given I’ll be back.  I’ll make an announcement in regards to that one way or the other in a few weeks.  I’d like to be back, leave it at that.

– Also, as for this blog…I haven’t decided what to do yet.  I will, most likely, keep it intact and just re-name it.  Although, there is certainly something to be said to a fresh start as well…I’ll think about that some more. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Press Conference

July 28, 2011

I’m heading over to Waterfront Park after the press conference at the arena…I’ll have comments from Rich Lisk and Brian McKenna, so stay tuned.

Titans Return To Trenton…

July 27, 2011

As part of a media advisory…

(PR) The Trenton Titans will make their return to the Sun National Bank Center on Opening Night, October 22, 2011 when they take on the Florida Everblades. Season tickets start as low as $396. You can purchase tickets by visiting the Titans on the web at http://www.trentontitanshockey.com or by calling the Titans offices at 609 341-1100. Help us bring back your team.

—–

There is a press conference tomorrow at 1 PM…and I will be there. Thinking the rest of the details will come out then…

Want The Titans Back? There May Be Hope After All…

July 11, 2011

A group of former Titans season-ticket holders are making a push, with the Trenton Devils ceasing operation, to bring back the Trenton Titans.

Published reports by Adam Kimelman on http://www.nhl.com and Wayne Fish at http://www.phillyburbs.com have alluded to both the Flyers and Comcast-Spectacor, which manages the Sun National Bank Center, of being open to such a franchise if an ownership group can be found.

A Facebook group – Bring Back The Titans – is attempting to show that demand for an ECHL team in the Trenton market is strong, and, to show that, obtain commitments for 500 season tickets with a $25 deposit.

If you, as a fan, want the Trenton Titans back, here is your chance. This is an open group Titans fans can join ay http://www.facebook.com/groups/248561481823226?notif_t=group_activity

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

An Empty Feeling

July 8, 2011

That was an all too common scene at Trenton’s Sun National Bank Center over the past few seasons, right?

Last season, the Devils averaged 2,390 fans, “good” for dead last in the league. Consider the poorly-hidden inflation of said attendance numbers, and it was more realistically 1,500 or less. There were nights, and not just a few, where the crowd…excuse me, small gathering…was under 100 people to watch the opening faceoff.

Was the team ceasing operations and, in the process, the Devils organization admitting they’d erred in purchasing the team four years ago a surprise to anyone?  The very, very brief statement that the team issued said that the organization wanted to run their minor league operations more in line with what other teams did, noting that New Jersey was the only team to own their ECHL affiliate. While things were certainly far from fine with the organization before the purchase was made — attendance had already dwindled to 3,515 fans a season in 2006-07 — the Devils organization took a team on the downswing and did absolutely nothing to change that, letting it die.

Promise after promise was made that ultimately went unfulfilled. Player appearances? Nope. Commitment to the city of Trenton? Not so much. Paint the town red? The only red that remains is the blood from the front office casualties who are now out of jobs after being loyal to an organization that ultimately wasn’t loyal to them.

While it would be a stretch to say that the Trenton Devils were a well-run organization, it would be flat-out inaccurate to say that they were ever given a budget even remotely close to what would allow them to be capable of doing so. Virtually any idea that would increase attendance was either too expensive or too much in contrast of the “Devils way.”  Minor league hockey is supposed to be fun.  There is obviously a very serious element to it, but it’s supposed to be fun, too.  Stuff as simple as alternate jerseys were pooh-poohed by the organization.  Anything that would spice up a dull product wasn’t allowed.  

Red, white and black never seemed so vanila.

The budget was so tight that anything that would actually get people in the seats — the Tony Zancanaro bobblehead, for example — had to be sponsored for it to be approved.  Something as simple as sponsor patches on the jerseys, which literally every other team in the league uses to generate revenue, weren’t allowed because it was “minor league.”  Yet, New Jersey’s big league approach wiped out their affiliate completely in four seasons.

When the front office, and an impossibly understaffed front office by the way, found out they were out of a job on Tuesday…it couldn’t have been much of a surprise with the way things were going over the past few seasons.  And be assured, there were good people who cared in that front office.  That’s who you should feel bad for.  But they also knew what they were up against.

In my three seasons of covering the team, I watched the fanbase dwindle from nothing to somehow even less. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people told me they’d felt alienated by the team name being switched from “Titans” to “Devils,” and how the way things were done ever since that turned them off.  Look at the attendance on “Scott Bertoli Night.”  It was a Titans night.  And it was…packed is a stretch, but it was very well-attended.  Unless it was a scout night or something like that, nearly every other game was played to a largely empty arena.  But, to be fair, Devils or Titans…the average attendance literally went down every season of the team’s existence.

However, the Devils flat out didn’t get how to do things at the minor league level, either on or off the ice, and on and off ice results of their affiliates have shown this.  Combine that with the borderline-ludicrous idea of having players on ECHL deals not be allowed to sign with other AHL teams, and it’s no wonder things went south on the ice.  Why would a ECHL-caliber free agent sign a deal with a team where his options at advancement are limited to just one team and one organization?  So the talent in Trenton was generally the best of the rest.  Occasionally, they’d stumble onto a gem or make a trade for someone worthwhile…but there was a reason why it took a miracle for a playoff run in 2009 and why they didn’t make it the following two seasons.

The fans in Albany, who ended up getting a few decent players out of the deal, have to wonder if they’re next…will the Devils let our team die too?

As for Trenton, hoping for the Phantoms to show up? Don’t. Everything I’ve been told leads me to believe that won’t happen.  Allentown seems like a lock.

Hoping for another buyer? Me too. I enjoyed covering the team, despite the bare-bones operations and difficult to work with organization that was in place — players would be ON THE ICE and as far as Trenton was concerned, it wasn’t official because the New Jersey front office hadn’t let them release the information — but the team lost $1.4 million last season. How, on that budget, they lost that much boggles my mind.  But having hockey, and fairly good hockey, to cover was great.  But who would step in with those kind of financial numbers — and attendance numbers, for that matter — staring them in the face.

Hoping for another team to eventually replace the Devils?  That’s possible.  But don’t expect it next season.  It’s July.  Unless the league either steps in and decides to operate a Trenton franchise this season to save the schedule or a buyer is willing to take on the debt that the franchise has incurred, Sun National Bank Center just lost 36 dates and will become a virtual ghost town save for the ever popular circus and mediocre concerts it hosts.

It had been well known, at least privately, that the team had been up for sale for a while.  But given that a schedule had already been released…it seemed there was hope that the small fanbase that actually did care about the team and looked past the poor on-ice product, ticket prices and the other littany of problems that affected the team…it seemed they’d bought themselves another season of pro hockey.

That schedule, unfortunately, was just another promise that wasn’t kept.

Ultimately, this sucks.  There’s no other way to put it.  For as easy as it was — and most times well-deserved — to rip the way things went down in Trenton, I will miss it.  Everyone’s hoping for some sort of last minute fix, and that may very well happen.  But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the past three seasons of covering professional hockey in Trenton…it’s that hoping for things to get better is something that will ultimately go unfulfilled.  Optimism was always, always, always unrealistic.  And even if a team does somehow come back…the dozens of people who somehow hadn’t been alienated over the years — the full season ticket holder base was rumored to be under 100 last season — are surely fed up by now.

Players, who were appreciative of the support they did get, often joked about the “green seats fan club.”  Basically, that the place was empty every night.  And until someone comes in and changes that, there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about right now.

It’s a sad, but inevitable day in Trenton. 

Paint the town dead.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

It’s Over

July 6, 2011

So, you guys were wondering why I hadn’t posted anything as far as a schedule goes and so on…

This is why.

It’s over.  The Trenton Devils are gone.  And the New Jersey Devils killed them.

I’ll have a much longer post on this when I have time to gather my thoughts…but, it’s over guys.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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