22 minutes into this newscast from the night after the final game of the Atlanta Flames, someone mentioned that there also was a viable rumor at the time that the Flames could've been bound for the Meadowlands for the 1981-82 season.
This is the first I've heard of this historical rumour but I wonder what may have gone down had this alternate course of history had taken place. Given how Hotchkiss and company were willing to pay any price for an NHL franchise, would they have gone after the Rockies? Would the Capitals, whom nearly were folded into said Rockies prior to their move to New Jersey, would have moved north instead? Would the NHL well have been less poisoned for Atlanta the first time had the Flames moved inside the US? I know from Canadian accounts at that time Calgary was as gung-ho for the NHL as Winnipeg three decades later so I wonder.
A while back, Google News archive had one of the Calgary papers up and though they were missing the issue from the day the move was official, up until the day before people there still had guarded hope for a team. Nothing like what happened 31 years later in Winnipeg where there were near-certain rumours for weeks prior. It makes me wonder how the Calgarians of 1980 would've reacted with modern social media.
New Jersey would've made alignment an easier as the Flames were already in the Patrick, but it may have changed the course of the league. Do the Penguins end up joining the Patrick? Do the Penguins end up in the Adams as a sixth team or do they slide over to the Norris? Do the Leafs end up in the Adams? Either way, the Jets probably would've never have been forcibly shifted to the Smythe if Calgary was the eventual home of the Rockies.
I've never head this Dallas rumour but it might've been interesting to have seen two fall/winter arena sports enter the same city at the same time with the Mavericks starting up the same year. I know too many teams starting too soon may have played a role in why the NHL didn't rush to relocate someone to Seattle in 1976 and may explain why the Panthers and Marlins have had such issues in Miami.
Municipal leaders from both Dallas and Houston had approached Cousins about moving the team to their cities however, he needed cash, needed to sell. No one from either city ever stepping up. Meadowlands as well was suggested, however, Colorado's Arthur Imperatore Sr (from New Jersey) had been promised that location by the NHL in 78 when he bought in with the Rockies & so it was out, he in turn selling the Rockies with the destination of Jersey to McMullen as part of the deal as we all know in 1982. As a sort of last gasp effort, Cousins had tried to get Delta Airlines & Coke, both with H.O.'s in Atlanta to sponsor local broadcasts as those revenues wouldve helped out considerably but unfortunately that went nowhere.
For keeping the team in Atlanta & trying to sell locally, absorbing losses, he was actually given pretty much carte blanche to move wherever he wanted (though if within range of an existing club, indemnification payments would be required, as was eventually the case with the Rockies, paying the Flyers, Isles & NYR's fee's for incursions on their pre-existing broadcast regions). He did receive an offer to buy from a local group headed up by actor Glenn Ford, however, Skalbania doubled their bid, and as Cousins was free to do as he saw fit, needed the dough, bye-bye Atlanta Flames.... In my opinion, a big mistake by the NHL. That being said though & to qualify, short-term, Kash can be King, so its understandable, forgiveable I suppose. Cousins real estate empire had crumbled, he was in dire straights, had every right to do what he did & who wouldnt have if in his shoes? Skalbania doubled down on the local offer. Long-term however, hockey could have and was working in Georgia, the Spiritual Capital & Gateway to the South. Massive, wealthy market with huge concentrations of media interests & Fortune 500's. The NHL really dropped the ball (or puck as it may be) in the late 70's, then obviously again over the past 5-6yrs in watching ASG unwind the Thrashers, sitting idly bye on their hands & doing nothing about it. Handled properly, excellent market.