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Hawks in need of better owners

On Sports

The final Winter Hawk home game of the season was Sunday night, and just before the opening faceoff, they cranked the music up. Out came the same old song teams often play prior to games - 'Start Me Up,' by the Rolling Stones.

And on cue, the oft-repeated lyrical bridge in the song boomed loud and clear:

'You make a grown man cry. You make a grown man cry.'

How appropriate.

It was that kind of season - again - for the Winter Hawks. More losses, in terms of games and money, and fewer fans. More mistakes, on the ice and off. More broken dreams for their hearty band of fans, however dwindling they may be. More broken promises.

This is the team owned by Jim Goldsmith, the big-talking New Yorker who told Portland he simply wouldn't allow losing. That's probably true - his team hasn't lost every game. Only 61 of 72.

He also promised a new replay screen - and installed an ugly old video board with a picture that looks a lot like the 1957 Admiral television set my dad owned that used a rabbit-ears antenna.

Goldsmith paid his bills late, and things got so bad that his players had trouble obtaining hockey sticks. The team's popular radio announcer, who also was the local face of the franchise in the business community, quit before the season - tired, I think, from fighting the good fight.

The Hawks moved completely out of the Rose Garden for Memorial Coliseum, a monumental mistake that cost them thousands of fans.

Goldsmith? Haven't seen him in months.

Oh yes, he also promised a blog on the team's Web site. The last entry I could find was Aug. 13 - but on the other hand, there hasn't been much to blog about.

What was once a great hockey town has been battered and bruised by current Hawk ownership to the point that I'm not sure the franchise can be saved - unless it is sold. Certainly anyone in town who cares about the Hawks is hoping for just that.

There doesn't seem to be enough hockey knowledge in the current group to maximize all the prime draft picks the Hawks will get as the result of their ineptitude. And there isn't enough cash on hand to buy the team out of trouble.

I would hope Goldsmith is smart enough to cut his losses. He's devalued this franchise to the point where the Western Hockey League had to step in a while back and try to steady the ship.

With all the team's problems, a good crowd showed up for the final night of hockey in Memorial Coliseum this season. Some people here still care, in spite of management's apparent suicide mission.

Sunday night's game was played on a sheet of ice painted green. The Hawks said it had to do with St. Patrick's Day. My guess, though, is that they ran out of white paint, and the green was on sale.

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