Archive for the ‘moving franchises’ Category

Black-buried?

May 6, 2009

After courting the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators, Jim Balsillie might find that the third (attempted NHL franchise move) will be the charm. If he can get through “Scary” Gary Bettman‘s hidden traps.

(Bettman only approves of owners who hate Canada and don’t have money, I guess.)

Let me say this: I’m no expert when it comes to the true vitality of the hockey market in Phoenix and certainly not an expert on how a team could make its way to Southern Ontario despite the pleas of the Toronto Maple Leafs (monopoly) and Buffalo Sabres (who mop up the Leafs’ table scraps). So if you want insider info, look at the blogs on the sidebar.

With that out of the way, let’s look at this a bit more:

Point 1: Mr. Blackberry will not be stopped

There are shades of “MLB owners black balling Mark Cuban” in this situation. When you consider all the criminal/shady/snake oil salesmen owners the NHL has approved, it’s pretty stunning that the league has a problem with the guy behind one of the most successful companies around. (Seriously, try to make it through a workday in DC without spotting a Blackberry)

He’s the freaking Terminator here, guys. Let him have his damn team.

Point 2: Another team in Canada = good

It might not show up in the American TV ratings, but it’s good for the sport for people to see hockey games celebrated as true events. Even if the league never seems to appreciate its Canadian fans (always looking for greener, American pastures) the fact of the matter is that having another Canadian team would mean more money in the big picture.

With what would be a deep-pocketed market, Mirtle points out that cash-poor teams will grumble about seeing the cap floor rise … but wouldn’t that be a boon for teams that will be bumping up against the top-end of cap? Yeah, something tells me that the league might care a little bit more about the Penguins, Red Wings and Rangers getting a bit more cap space than the Kings having a $32 million budget instead of $30 million.

(Seriously, great point by Mirtle but am I the only person who finds the idea a bit backwards?)

Point 3: A history of silence

Again, I’m no expert about the Coyotes place in the Arizona sports landscape.

But when your gravy days are centered around Keith Tkachuk wearing those Phoenix “Peyotes” jerseys and the short period of time before Nik Khabibulin folded his arms and held out for my money, you might not have the most successful hockey franchise out there.

There’s always some karma problems with moving a franchise (see: Sonics, Seattle), but it hurts much more when the new team continues the same losing tradition. The Coyotes are in a brutal division, in a brutal economic climate and … they play in the desert.

Maybe this just wasn’t meant to be.

Point 4: Still, don’t forget a few hearts would be broken

Odin Mercer from Five for Howling is a great guy and I feel bad for him. Even despite living in Texas and New Jersey all my life, the thought of the Pittsburgh Penguins moving to Kansas City was very hard for me to stomach. Without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mario Lemieux, the Penguins could be in the same place as the Coyotes.

People (especially Canadians) tend to forget that even the least traditional hockey markets still have plenty of diehard fans.

***

Ultimately, it’s unclear if the Coyotes will move to Southern Ontario. For all we know, they could stay put or become the Hamilton Ex-Yotes. There also could be a Plan C: moving the Coyotes to Kansas City or Las Vegas.

It would be wrong if the NHL had to baby bird the Coyotes just to avoid some embarrassment. But from the looks of things right now, there isn’t one easy answer.

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