NHL to Expand 2 teams in Canada - THN
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10-21-2012, 04:47 AM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Adding two teams to Canada makes sense economically. With Rogers/Bell as owners and not just partners, I think it is in their interest to expand their horizons, and when the next Canadian broadcast deal is concluded I expect them to be the drivers of league growth. That's why a second Toronto franchise is such a slam dunk. The Leafs are a cash cow, but they only cover a portion of the schedule. Imagine the revenue you can earn as a broadcaster having a Toronto team playing six nights a week instead of 3. Put them in a division with Detroit, Chicago (original 6 and Norris nostalgia) and Winnipeg and you have indirect competition with the Leafs brand, while offering greater exposure for the Toronto sports fan. Detroit-Toronto on Hockey Night in Canada, which will conceivably be sold to Bell in the next negotiations, probably garners a bigger TV audience than any Canadian rivalry save the Habs-Leafs...This is good economics for the game, more sensible than 3 teams in New York, or 2 in L..A.
Québec is a different animal. Quebecor is a rival of Bell and Rogers. Pelardeau got his foundation (Vidéotron) through Québec protectionism. But a team in Québec is a must. With a new arena, there is no question of sustainability. The passion of the fans is evident, no other potential franchise has made more noise in their desire to be a part of the NHL. Any hockey nostalgist can attest to the quality of the Montréal-Québec rivalry, it really splits Québec among its nationalist francophone and federalist bilingual split, and a franchise in la vielle capitale instantly becomes Québec's team, as symbolized by the jersey. The other important aspect of having a francophone franchise, with broadcasting rights is the exposure the NHL gets across the pond, helping to grow its brand in France and Switzerland (maybe with some preseason campaigning too?). God knows if the NHL is going to expand, it has to garner interest on a fan level, and a talent base. I don't think expansion into the southern U.S. had been tangible on either front, personally. Thankfully Europe is embracing the sport and increasing our talent pool.
Seattle is a no brainer. However I think Jamison is the perfect guy to transition the team out of Phoenix and into Seattle. Buy the franchise with an out clause, so that Glendale gets some short-term revenue. The losses incurred in owning the mirage in the Desert can be recouped in a couple/few years in the sale of the team, in which Jamison could take the minority stake in a solid investment. Glendale gets paid, and maybe gets the farm team as a concession, ensuring a semi-profitable and manageable enterprise for the city, and an olive branch to the true hockey fans of Phoenix.
Houston? Big city, some foundation. Texans might enjoy hockey, but they love baseball, and they live football. Carving out that niche is possible, but the current Dallas slide has to be monitored as a litmus before embracing another Texas market. If Nashville ever gave up on hockey, I think Houston would be a sensible destination for relocation, but frankly I prefer the novelty of the Preds to the potential of Houston.
Milwaukee? Would be a great market, another suitable city for relocation.
Portland? No guarantees on the market. No owner.
Kansas City. No thank you.
I think the financial woes of Anaheim, Dallas, Nashville, Florida, Columbus and the Isles need to be addressed seriously before the NHL could look any further.
I have some apprehension about diluting the game, as last year's playoffs in which several unskilled NHLers earned their keep by injuring prominent ones magnified an ugly trend growing in the game...Is Brandon Prust a $3 million per year player in a 32 team league? Are there going to be more players like Neil, Carcillo, Torres, Cooke, on 3rd lines, and less Burmistrovs, Raymonds, Gerbes and Steens? The short European season and tax free KHL are legitimate contenders for a lot of the talent, especially veterans and tweeners. No other pro sports league faces this competition, and it does seem odd and somewhat unhealthy to me to have as many franchises as the extremely successful NFL, and more than the NBA or MLB.
That said I like the conference setup. It's good for fans, great for TV, especially, offering a more rivalry based playoff format. It's good for the players and owners too, limiting travel and expenses more equitably. So I am a proponent of 32, especially with 9 Canadian franchises in the landscape.
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