In the first couple of years into Gary Bettman’s reign as the NHL Comissioner, his most noted action was stealing away the Jets and Nordiques’ fans hearts by taking both teams to Colorado and Phoenix. While the Avalanche have turned out to be a success, the Coyotes still suffer from low attendance even though they actually made the playoffs this past season. It’s unlikely Bettman will take any team out of the USA and put it in Canada, but it’s likely the NHL will follow suit to the NFL and expand to 32 teams. I would be shocked if none went north of the 49th parallel. Inspired by TSN’s running series on this same issue, here are the top Canadian cities in contention for a NHL team.
Winnipeg: 8th biggest city in the land up north, and the lasting memory of the indifferent Jets. They were a team of history and culture, despite never winning the Stanley Cup. The city is the murder capital of Canada, but should be the top contender here. Great fans, an arena being built as we speak that should serve 19,000+, and it shouldn’t be hard to attract an owner (wink wink Balsillie cough cough).
Chances: 75 %
Toronto: Already host of the Maple Leafs, economic experts have suggested the rising Canadian Dollar would be monumental in bringing another NHL team to the city. Most Leafs fans are ready to jump off a bridge, and shadow Sabres fans can’t follow their team live, therefore another team would bring together both groups. The question is, would it be fair to give Toronto another team and not one to Winnipeg or Quebec City?
Hamilton: Likely the most underrated city in Canada, Hamilton is split between the Leafs and Sabres. Although the fans in the small apple are one of the most passionate about distant teams, I don’t see how they could get a team here with it being shadowed by two big markets, Toronto and Buffalo. Copps Coliseum doesn’t even look that good, and the plan Jim Ballsilie proposed last year doesn’t work for numerous reasons.
Chances: 30 %
Quebec City: The sexy pick here, likely the city with the most opportune fans ready to burst out. The Nordiques were it’s own cult here, but in today’s modern capitalism era, I seriously doubt they could last. They have the Canadiens of Montreal down their necks, and it’s not like Quebec is that big of a city. I’d love to see the NHL go back there, but the economics wouldn’t make sense in the end.
Halifax: A huge underdog here, not even mentioned in possible Canadian destinations, but why not? It’s a good market (albeit a bit small), no territorial boundaries covered by NHL teams, and the Metro Centre there is an established arena ready for NHL action. I like it, but I highly doubt Bettman and his comrades would even consider it. Although, it would be nice to see a team in the Atlantic.
I asked a couple of writers here on Too Many Men to see what their thoughts on which Canadian City deserves a NHL team. Here’s what they had to say:
Frank Rekas of The Rat Trick said “Quebec or Winnipeg! Quebec because of sentimental reasons, and Winnipeg because it’s the best market.”
Tim Redinger of Sabre Noise followed in with a bit of humour, “I would say Winnipeg – cities like Montreal or Toronto could support a second team. Other than that are their any cities large enough in Canada that can manage an 18-20,000 seat arena without dog sled parking?”
Austin Waldron of Blackout Dallas added, “I would have to go with Winnipeg as well. All of the top 6 cities in Canada (population wise) all have a team and I would give one to Winnipeg over Quebec because there is not another NHL team close to that city. And fans their seem ready for a NHL team again.”
As well, Myles Robinson of Editor In Leaf replied, “Winnipeg seems to be the unanimous choice, but to be honest, as a Leafs fan, I actually probably wouldn’t mind seeing a team come to Hamilton. I think it would keep the Toronto franchise honest and, with the severe lack of success in recent years, there would probably be a sizable amount of support for a new franchise. Winnipeg’s probably the safest choice, though I’d want a guarantee that they’d still rock the old-school Jets jerseys.
Eugene Markman of Broad Street Buzz commented “I’m voting for Hamilton as well. Close market to Toronto, and from what I hear, that’s a tough ticket. The area is big enough for another team, so I guess that’d work.”
Susan Lee of Ducks Daily Blog finished it off with a bit of enticement, “I’m going with Hamilton. Isn’t that where insane puckhead Jim Balsillie is located? The same dude who has tried to purchase both the Preds and the ‘Yotes? Maybe he could buy the Panthers and put poor Frank out of his misery.”
All four of Jeffrey Bartl (Blackhawk Up), Gavin Humes (Rink Royalty), Steve Fetch (The College Hockey Blog) and even Zach Best, the over-lord of FanSided said Winnipeg should be the destination. Zach also mentioned that Kansas City in the U.S. it also ready for a NHL team.
Personally, the NHL should and will expand to Winnipeg and Seattle. Winnipeg because of reasons stated above, and Seattle because of it’s hockey craziness. I know Kansas City would be good option as well, I fear the Chiefs, Royals, and Wizards of the MLS take too much stake in the claim. It’s all up to the commish though, we’re just here to entice your minds.
Voice your claim on which Canadian City should have the next NHL team in the comments section below!