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Old
06-16-2009, 11:05 PM
  #1
jgnwgn
 
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New League Concepts

If Balsillie or someone else decided to start a Pro League to serve underserved markets what would be some of the ideas on how the league should be structured or different then the NHL?

Here are some of my thoughts:
Try to start with 6 teams, name it something that brings up thoughts of "original six" but obviously not that term.
Place teams in Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Quebec, Hartford and another U.S. city (Cleveland? Indianapolis? Houston? I'm not sure what would be good)
Is there anyway a team could play out of the Rogers Centre in Toronto and not seem ridiculous?
Don't try to be adversarial with the NHL, attract fans by not trying to make them decide between this league and the NHL.
Pick a day like Friday to be the main day where most of the teams are always playing that evening consistently.
Finish Playoffs before the NHL playoffs start and then the champion team competes in the european champions league or against the KHL champion
Create an interesting salary cap structure that encourages star players to join, maybe a salary cap that has 15 million that can be divided on upto 4 players and another 15 million for the rest of the team.
Introduce a lot of high tech tools, stats, info. Maybe a system that tracks in detail ice-time for players, where shots are scored on particular goalies, where certain players take shots from etc... and provide all that info to users and fantasy leagues for free.
Create close ties with minor hockey leagues in the areas around the teams

Thoughts?

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Old
06-16-2009, 11:54 PM
  #2
LadyStanley
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NHL has a relationship with the European Championship League (which is dark for the 09-10 season; and may come back with NHL help), so I doubt they'll risk that relationship to team up with an upstart.


If you have a league in the same proximity as an NHL team, I don't see how it cannot be considered to compete.

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06-17-2009, 12:15 AM
  #3
seanlinden
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They tried this no less than a couple years ago with the WHA. A new league in north america will not be able to attract the big name players; and therefore nobody wants to go to watch them.

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Old
06-17-2009, 07:45 AM
  #4
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WHA comparison

A lot has changed since the WHA. The Internet, fantasy leagues, 4 or 5 sports channels on TV, sports radio etc... If the startup league is smart in how they feed the new media there could be alot of interesting strategies that weren't possible even 10 years ago.

As well I think it is a mistake to think the WHA failed, if the goal is to bring Pro Hockey to underserved markets then they definitely succeeded. Merger with the NHL might not be a negative option down the road, it might be a cheaper path then expansion/relocation/territorial rights fees.

The WHA had a few big name players. From a Toronto area point of view it wouldn't be hard to get a roster with better stars than the Maple Leafs.

Yes it would definitely compete with the NHL, but I think the trick would be to give the perception that you are just bringing Pro Hockey where they NHL refuses to go and you aren't trying to put them out of business. Taking a non confrontational approach by ending playoffs early and scheduling games to reduce conflict as much as possible.

I think all the good will and raised emotions of the make it seven campaign could roll into this.

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Old
06-17-2009, 07:47 AM
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgnwgn View Post
If Balsillie or someone else decided to start a Pro League to serve underserved markets what would be some of the ideas on how the league should be structured or different then the NHL?

Here are some of my thoughts:
Try to start with 6 teams, name it something that brings up thoughts of "original six" but obviously not that term.
Place teams in Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Quebec, Hartford and another U.S. city (Cleveland? Indianapolis? Houston? I'm not sure what would be good)
Is there anyway a team could play out of the Rogers Centre in Toronto and not seem ridiculous?
Don't try to be adversarial with the NHL, attract fans by not trying to make them decide between this league and the NHL.
Pick a day like Friday to be the main day where most of the teams are always playing that evening consistently.
Finish Playoffs before the NHL playoffs start and then the champion team competes in the european champions league or against the KHL champion
Create an interesting salary cap structure that encourages star players to join, maybe a salary cap that has 15 million that can be divided on upto 4 players and another 15 million for the rest of the team.
Introduce a lot of high tech tools, stats, info. Maybe a system that tracks in detail ice-time for players, where shots are scored on particular goalies, where certain players take shots from etc... and provide all that info to users and fantasy leagues for free.
Create close ties with minor hockey leagues in the areas around the teams

Thoughts?
No a team really could not play out of the rogers centre.As with toronto i really do not have they would support a team great if it was anything but nhl.

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Old
06-17-2009, 08:20 AM
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgnwgn View Post
A lot has changed since the WHA. The Internet, fantasy leagues, 4 or 5 sports channels on TV, sports radio etc... If the startup league is smart in how they feed the new media there could be alot of interesting strategies that weren't possible even 10 years ago.
I think you missed what he meant. They tried bringing the WHA back during the 2004-2005 lockout. But it didn't go anywhere.

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06-17-2009, 08:28 AM
  #7
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I seriously believe that if Balsillie doesn't get his NHL team, this is his end game. What was the one thing that caused the WHA and the failed attempt at a restart of the WHA to fall apart?

Money.

One thing that Balsillie has is money... he ALSO has corporate support, not only from RIM but other major canadian corporations. It's obvious he wants an NHL team, but lets think through this. Lets say he tries, again, and fails and even files Anti-trust charges against the NHL afterwards and then LOSES... what do you think the recourse of a Billionaire canadian who wants to be in Major Pro Hockey and capitalize on the unserved Canadian Market is?

My bet... a rival canadian national league. It always comes down to money. And he, my friends, has way more than he needs.

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06-17-2009, 08:32 AM
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"Is there anyway a team could play out of the Rogers Centre in Toronto and not seem ridiculous?"

No, unless they could sell out the place. It would look extremely ridiculous
with a couple thousand people spread out all over the place.
Obviously the playoffs would end sooner with only two rounds.
It would also be a short season , unless the teams play each other
a dozen times. Do you really think that star players are gonna leave the security of the NHL to play in Winnipeg or Hamilton.
How many fans in Houston would show up to watch journeyman players
play for teams in cities they never heard of?.
This league would never make it out of the drawing board.

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Old
06-17-2009, 08:40 AM
  #9
no13matssundin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eliostar View Post
"Is there anyway a team could play out of the Rogers Centre in Toronto and not seem ridiculous?"

No, unless they could sell out the place. It would look extremely ridiculous
with a couple thousand people spread out all over the place.
Obviously the playoffs would end sooner with only two rounds.
It would also be a short season , unless the teams play each other
a dozen times. Do you really think that star players are gonna leave the security of the NHL to play in Winnipeg or Hamilton.
How many fans in Houston would show up to watch journeyman players
play for teams in cities they never heard of?.
This league would never make it out of the drawing board.
Wait, you mean, sorta like playing in a football stadium of 90K seats or a baseball stadium... on new years day with horrible sightlines and a plethora of cheaper seats..... ya... that'll never fly.

oh wait.

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06-17-2009, 10:56 AM
  #10
seanlinden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgnwgn View Post
A lot has changed since the WHA. The Internet, fantasy leagues, 4 or 5 sports channels on TV, sports radio etc... If the startup league is smart in how they feed the new media there could be alot of interesting strategies that weren't possible even 10 years ago.

As well I think it is a mistake to think the WHA failed, if the goal is to bring Pro Hockey to underserved markets then they definitely succeeded. Merger with the NHL might not be a negative option down the road, it might be a cheaper path then expansion/relocation/territorial rights fees.

The WHA had a few big name players. From a Toronto area point of view it wouldn't be hard to get a roster with better stars than the Maple Leafs.

Yes it would definitely compete with the NHL, but I think the trick would be to give the perception that you are just bringing Pro Hockey where they NHL refuses to go and you aren't trying to put them out of business. Taking a non confrontational approach by ending playoffs early and scheduling games to reduce conflict as much as possible.

I think all the good will and raised emotions of the make it seven campaign could roll into this.
We're talking about the failed attempt to launch a WHA a few years ago....where they found no interest in the product and shut it down before a puck was dropped.

If Balsillie wants to have recourse for the NHL having no interest in conducting business with him; then he's free to start his own league; but he can forget about ever competing with the NHL. He'll get corporate sponsors who can't afford to go with the NHL; but nowhere near the level of fan support / longterm relationships nor does he have the arenas. Its going to be a moneypit for the first 15 years.

The Canadian market in general is not underserved. Major economic centres have NHL teams. Smaller economic centres have AHL teams. Small cities have OHL/QMJHL/WHL teams. Every city has the level of team that they can support.

Please don't let the ******** that comes from Balsillie's mouth brainwash you.

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Old
06-17-2009, 10:59 AM
  #11
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Originally Posted by no13matssundin View Post
Wait, you mean, sorta like playing in a football stadium of 90K seats or a baseball stadium... on new years day with horrible sightlines and a plethora of cheaper seats..... ya... that'll never fly.

oh wait.
That'll fly once a year for a special event. There's a reason that most stadiums today are built with roofs.

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Old
06-17-2009, 11:22 AM
  #12
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I don't see it as the NHL's large footprint is now in most of the best markets and in most of the suitable rinks. When the first WHA launched in 71 there was 14 NHL teams. When the first WHA started playing there was 16 NHL teams.

IF and only IF, the NHL pulled out of several northern and Canadian markets, would there be a number of suitable locations. even then, the NHL would have the upper hand with player contracts (unlike '72, the new league would not be able to outbid the NHL this time around) so fans would be watching a version of the AHL at bigger league prices, stocked largely with players on the decline or have other flaws that make them unsuitable for the Show.

all in my opinion of course.

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06-17-2009, 11:40 AM
  #13
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We're talking about the failed attempt to launch a WHA a few years ago....where they found no interest in the product and shut it down before a puck was dropped.

If Balsillie wants to have recourse for the NHL having no interest in conducting business with him; then he's free to start his own league; but he can forget about ever competing with the NHL. He'll get corporate sponsors who can't afford to go with the NHL; but nowhere near the level of fan support / longterm relationships nor does he have the arenas. Its going to be a moneypit for the first 15 years.

The Canadian market in general is not underserved. Major economic centres have NHL teams. Smaller economic centres have AHL teams. Small cities have OHL/QMJHL/WHL teams. Every city has the level of team that they can support.

Please don't let the ******** that comes from Balsillie's mouth brainwash you.
There are some places where there is nhl/major jr/ahl/tier 2 jr a.So i think the question is well would a another pro league do.

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06-17-2009, 11:40 AM
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfried View Post
We're talking about the failed attempt to launch a WHA a few years ago....where they found no interest in the product and shut it down before a puck was dropped.

If Balsillie wants to have recourse for the NHL having no interest in conducting business with him; then he's free to start his own league; but he can forget about ever competing with the NHL. He'll get corporate sponsors who can't afford to go with the NHL; but nowhere near the level of fan support / longterm relationships nor does he have the arenas. Its going to be a moneypit for the first 15 years.

The Canadian market in general is not underserved. Major economic centres have NHL teams. Smaller economic centres have AHL teams. Small cities have OHL/QMJHL/WHL teams. Every city has the level of team that they can support.

Please don't let the ******** that comes from Balsillie's mouth brainwash you.

When it comes to the NHL, it is underserved. Look, are you going to try and sit there and argue that Phoenix, Tampa, and Nashville are better locations than say Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Quebec City?

Seriously, if Bettman wasn't commish, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
He's going to break this league down and the end result will be the laughing stock of all major sports leagues around the world.

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06-17-2009, 11:42 AM
  #15
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Originally Posted by saskganesh View Post
I don't see it as the NHL's large footprint is now in most of the best markets and in most of the suitable rinks. When the first WHA launched in 71 there was 14 NHL teams. When the first WHA started playing there was 16 NHL teams.

IF and only IF, the NHL pulled out of several northern and Canadian markets, would there be a number of suitable locations. even then, the NHL would have the upper hand with player contracts (unlike '72, the new league would not be able to outbid the NHL this time around) so fans would be watching a version of the AHL at bigger league prices, stocked largely with players on the decline or have other flaws that make them unsuitable for the Show.

all in my opinion of course.
Basically like the KHL of NA then...

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06-17-2009, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by torque View Post
When it comes to the NHL, it is underserved. Look, are you going to try and sit there and argue that Phoenix, Tampa, and Nashville are better locations than say Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Quebec City?

Seriously, if Bettman wasn't commish, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
He's going to break this league down and the end result will be the laughing stock of all major sports leagues around the world.
If Winnipeg could be one of the 30 best locations for a team, they'd have one. Same can be said for Hamilton. Absolutely those cities are; they have much bigger economic bases and don't have fans who are already captured by another team. I also put forward the quesiton, why does it have to be the NHL? Why should a city of less than 1million people get to see the best hockey in the world? Why should one area have 3 teams when one of them doesn't even sell out. If Hamilton was a good market to put a team into; the Sabres would be constantly selling out as would the Bulldogs. The Hamilton/Buffalo area can barely support one team. Just because it is the NHL doesn't mean they should have a team in every city that has ever had a hockey fan.

If we didn't have Bettman, we'd be 10 years away from the NHL being the equivalent of the SEL when hockey moves to europe.

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06-17-2009, 12:28 PM
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I guess everyone forgot what the XFL was don't they.

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06-17-2009, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jfried View Post
If Winnipeg could be one of the 30 best locations for a team, they'd have one. Same can be said for Hamilton.
They'd have one if Bettman wasn't commish.

Quote:
Why should a city of less than 1million people get to see the best hockey in the world?
Come on... behind the scenes, the NHL is a business, like any other. For a business to operate, it has to make money... somewhere along the way though, Gary and his merry band of cronies lost sight of this and made a lot of stupid decisions to try and "grow" the game in non-traditional markets. For example, just because a city has 5 million people, doesn't mean that more people are going to fill the seats. Those people have to be FANS of the game of hockey, first and foremost. Sure, if the on-ice product is good, the team makes money overtime... but how long does it have to be a money pit before the league recognizes that it should move on to greener pastures? Apparently, the Phoenix Coyotes are an exception to these cardinal business rules.

Quote:
Just because it is the NHL doesn't mean they should have a team in every city that has ever had a hockey fan.
Where did I hint at this notion? In fact, I'm arguing the exact opposite (see above).

Quote:
If we didn't have Bettman, we'd be 10 years away from the NHL being the equivalent of the SEL when hockey moves to europe.
Explain.

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06-17-2009, 02:23 PM
  #19
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Originally Posted by torque View Post
They'd have one if Bettman wasn't commish.



Come on... behind the scenes, the NHL is a business, like any other. For a business to operate, it has to make money... somewhere along the way though, Gary and his merry band of cronies lost sight of this and made a lot of stupid decisions to try and "grow" the game in non-traditional markets. For example, just because a city has 5 million people, doesn't mean that more people are going to fill the seats. Those people have to be FANS of the game of hockey, first and foremost. Sure, if the on-ice product is good, the team makes money overtime... but how long does it have to be a money pit before the league recognizes that it should move on to greener pastures? Apparently, the Phoenix Coyotes are an exception to these cardinal business rules.



Where did I hint at this notion? In fact, I'm arguing the exact opposite (see above).



Explain.
Really into the conspiracy theory eh?

A business has to make money; they do that with a good portion of the NHL teams. The NHL as a collective must ensure that they look to the future to avoid mortaging it for today's success. Growing the game in non-traditional markets is the only way the league will succeed long term. There are 3 bigger sports here; and one which will problably be bigger in a few years if the NHL doesn't step up its game. The american economy is key to the long term success of the NHL; if it is merely a regional game played in the Northeast, sponsors won't want to touch it when they have 4 other sports which reach a nationwide audience.

Meanwhile, you've got Europe which has more than twice as many people as North America in half the geographic area. There is competition from ONE sport; and the schedules don't conflict as much as hockey & basketball. They currently suffer from systemic internal problems with a disjoint between leagues and too many teams; but are working to rectify that.

Capitalism will always win out at the end of the day, and when faced with a decision between Gary Bettman's NHL or a developmental league; give me Gary Bettman's any day of the week. Those are the ONLY two options. Gary Bettman moving teams from Winnipeg, QC and preventing Hamilton isn't a conspiracy theory because he hates Canada; its a BUSINESS DECISION. They are in the business of bringing the world's best hockey to North America; and this is the way they have to do it. Winnipeg & QC cannot compete where the NHL wants to be as there isn't enough money in those cities. Hamilton might be able to, but it serves no purpose, hurts a US team (where the fans will stop watching), and doesn't increase league revenues by nearly as significant amount as a successful Phoenix or KC team will.

There was a time when multiple teams in a geographic area made sense -- because otherwise hockey was an afterthought in that city. Hockey is not and will never be an afterthought in Southern Ontario; so there's no point in putting a team there. The Islanders might be at risk in a year or two if they can't get the Arena -- I can almost guarantee that he won't be fighting for them to stay nearly as hard because they realize that they don't need 3 teams in one geographic area; and the Devils are a better market long term. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Isles move to Seattle, Vegas or KC.

Unlike yourself who uses his day posting on an internet forum. The guys who run this league are millionaires and billionaires. They are significantly smarter than you or me. They realize why a guy who is out there to make a quick buck off another team's market is bad for the league; much like Balsillie realizes he might be able to make a quick buck off moving a team to hamilton while exploiting people's patriotism.

Long story short -- the NHL needs a national presence or it might aswell pack up its bags now. If they wait for the europeans to coordinate thier efforts; it will be too late. You're not going to create fans without teams nearby; which means they need teams in non-traditional markets.

Phoenix needs to be a moneypit until it becomes a successful team just like Carolina. If the NHL decides that's not going to happen for micro-economic reasons (competing with the Suns in a bad location); then ship the team off to KC, Vegas or Seattle. If they decide that it can't succeed in Phoenix because people will never start watching; then all 30 teams should move to europe right now. This is why the big market teams are happy to support those in suspect US markets; they realize that at the end of the day, the money they pay out today will be returned in multiple over the long run.

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06-17-2009, 02:33 PM
  #20
eliostar
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Originally Posted by no13matssundin View Post
Wait, you mean, sorta like playing in a football stadium of 90K seats or a baseball stadium... on new years day with horrible sightlines and a plethora of cheaper seats..... ya... that'll never fly.

oh wait.
You obviously missed the point, Big difference between having 50,000 fans in a filled stadium and having 2 to 3 thousand fans in a large stadium. That is what you would draw for a new league. The Ricoh center is where they would probably play.

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06-17-2009, 02:56 PM
  #21
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The OP should remove Winnipeg from his list of prospective franchises, sorry. Chipman/True North own the incredibly financially successful AHL Moose, and barring an NHL team falling into their laps at the right price, no way does a prospective new WHA style league have a chance in Winnipeg. The Moose own the building, the MTS Centre. Where is this new team going to play? The St. James Civic Centre in front of 500 people? The U of M Multiplex? The Highlander? Outside?

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06-17-2009, 03:07 PM
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Basically like the KHL of NA then...
kinda. but Dave Scatchard would be the leading scorer and league MVP.

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06-17-2009, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jgnwgn View Post
Yes it would definitely compete with the NHL, but I think the trick would be to give the perception that you are just bringing Pro Hockey where they NHL refuses to go and you aren't trying to put them out of business. Taking a non confrontational approach by ending playoffs early and scheduling games to reduce conflict as much as possible.

I think all the good will and raised emotions of the make it seven campaign could roll into this.
There's already Pro Hockey where the NHL refuses to go. It's called the AHL. And, by the way, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hartford, and Cleveland all have AHL teams.

Perhaps you meant, a new "top-level league," but bear in mind that any new league would have AHL-level talent and level of play, since it wouldn't be able compete with the NHL financially for free agents. Since the AHL already exists and serves all of those "underserved" markets you named, why do we need to create another AHL-level pro league to serve them again? Wouldn't that be redundant?

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06-17-2009, 04:25 PM
  #24
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Originally Posted by jfried View Post
Really into the conspiracy theory eh?

A business has to make money; they do that with a good portion of the NHL teams. The NHL as a collective must ensure that they look to the future to avoid mortaging it for today's success. Growing the game in non-traditional markets is the only way the league will succeed long term. There are 3 bigger sports here; and one which will problably be bigger in a few years if the NHL doesn't step up its game. The american economy is key to the long term success of the NHL; if it is merely a regional game played in the Northeast, sponsors won't want to touch it when they have 4 other sports which reach a nationwide audience.

Meanwhile, you've got Europe which has more than twice as many people as North America in half the geographic area. There is competition from ONE sport; and the schedules don't conflict as much as hockey & basketball. They currently suffer from systemic internal problems with a disjoint between leagues and too many teams; but are working to rectify that.

Capitalism will always win out at the end of the day, and when faced with a decision between Gary Bettman's NHL or a developmental league; give me Gary Bettman's any day of the week. Those are the ONLY two options. Gary Bettman moving teams from Winnipeg, QC and preventing Hamilton isn't a conspiracy theory because he hates Canada; its a BUSINESS DECISION. They are in the business of bringing the world's best hockey to North America; and this is the way they have to do it. Winnipeg & QC cannot compete where the NHL wants to be as there isn't enough money in those cities. Hamilton might be able to, but it serves no purpose, hurts a US team (where the fans will stop watching), and doesn't increase league revenues by nearly as significant amount as a successful Phoenix or KC team will.

There was a time when multiple teams in a geographic area made sense -- because otherwise hockey was an afterthought in that city. Hockey is not and will never be an afterthought in Southern Ontario; so there's no point in putting a team there. The Islanders might be at risk in a year or two if they can't get the Arena -- I can almost guarantee that he won't be fighting for them to stay nearly as hard because they realize that they don't need 3 teams in one geographic area; and the Devils are a better market long term. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Isles move to Seattle, Vegas or KC.

Unlike yourself who uses his day posting on an internet forum. The guys who run this league are millionaires and billionaires. They are significantly smarter than you or me. They realize why a guy who is out there to make a quick buck off another team's market is bad for the league; much like Balsillie realizes he might be able to make a quick buck off moving a team to hamilton while exploiting people's patriotism.

Long story short -- the NHL needs a national presence or it might aswell pack up its bags now. If they wait for the europeans to coordinate thier efforts; it will be too late. You're not going to create fans without teams nearby; which means they need teams in non-traditional markets.

Phoenix needs to be a moneypit until it becomes a successful team just like Carolina. If the NHL decides that's not going to happen for micro-economic reasons (competing with the Suns in a bad location); then ship the team off to KC, Vegas or Seattle. If they decide that it can't succeed in Phoenix because people will never start watching; then all 30 teams should move to europe right now. This is why the big market teams are happy to support those in suspect US markets; they realize that at the end of the day, the money they pay out today will be returned in multiple over the long run.
That last point (in bold) is the kind of thinking that has led the U.S. (and the entire world for that matter) into total financial chaos over the past 2 years.

But good write-up, nonetheless.

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06-17-2009, 04:54 PM
  #25
seanlinden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by torque View Post
That last point (in bold) is the kind of thinking that has led the U.S. (and the entire world for that matter) into total financial chaos over the past 2 years.

But good write-up, nonetheless.
Difference is that for the most part these guys aren't going into massive amounts of debt to keep phoenix afloat....

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