Before I begin, bring back the Whalers, Nordiques, and the Jets!
According to ESPN.com,the Atlanta Thrashers are in financial debt. Why? No one in the Atlanta area enjoys hockey. They are more of a baseball, football, and basketball city. Understandable. ESPN also said that Thrashers owner Tom Waddell is afraid to relocate because the league will not allow the move to happen. During this time, the sale for the Phoenix Coyotes will be finalized, where owners and the NHL will try to keep the team in Phoenix and not relocate them. Across Canada, investors in Quebec City and Winnipeg are trying to bring back an NHL team to those markets. .Across the Northeastern USA, fans cry to bring back the Hartford Whalers. They do not want to see an AHL team in their city (Connecticut Whales). They want the Whaler, not the Whale. So far, this does not look like it is going to happen. WhY??????
I am very shocked that the NHL will allow teams like Atlanta, Florida, and Phoenix to suffer financially while people from better markets have been pleading to get a hockey team back into their cities. The NHL has a rule where if relocation were to occur, a team cannot be within 50 miles of another market unless the teams within that market says that it is okay. I can understand why Hamilton, ONT, Canada, didn't work. It was 50 miles away from Buffalo and 60 miles away from Toronto. Fans in the surrounding suburbs have season tickets or some kind of ticket plan to both teams. Why do you think they sing both the Canadian and American national anthems at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo? By putting a team in Hamilton, Buffalo will lose about 15%-20% of their attendance, since the Sabres are not as big as teams like the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs will lose a small percentage, however, due to the way the team has been playing for the past few years, might not be able to regain that percentage until something happens with that organization.
According to Google Maps,
- Quebec City is 255 kilometers away from Montreal, approximately 158 miles.
- Winnipeg is over 1000 kilometers away from Edmonton and Calgary. I don't even need to convert here.
- Hartford is 102 miles away from Boston, 124 miles away from Manhattan, 120 miles away from Uniondale, and 130 miles away from Newark.
Other interesting notes:
- Vintage Whalers, Nordiques, Jets, and even the California Seals memorabilia have sold more than Panthers and Coyotes merchandise. Thrashers have sold merchandise, but it was bought mainly by people in the northern markets, like NYC, Toronto, and Philadelphia.
- Fans in Hartford have been begging for the Whalers to come back, not its AHL knock-off
- During the Coyotes bankruptcy, when word about a possible hockey team was moving to Hamilton, Canada, residents there bought season tickets to a team that was probably never going to show. Within one day, the season ticket waiting list was over 3,000 people (not counting how many tickets each person ordered per game). Basically, the place was going to be sold out for the next three years. Bettiman says no. WTF?
- During preseason games that are hosted in Winnipeg and Quebec City, fans wore nothing but Nordiques and Jets jerseys, People held up signs saying "Bring back the 'Diques", "Screw Phoenix, bring back the Jets", and others taunting Bettiman's reputation as Commissioner.
If these three cities are willing to have an NHL team and if fans are willing to go out and support them, then relocate them.
- Florida moves to Hartford, renamed the Hartford Whalers
- Atlanta moves to Quebec City, renamed either the Quebec City Thrashers or Quebec Nordiques
- Phoenix moves back to Winnipeg, renamed the Winnipeg Jets.
(Added note- relocate the Islanders to the new arena in Brooklyn, New York. It is very close to the Garden, but the Rangers gave the "thumbs up" for them to relocate there, due to the poor condition of Nassau Coliseum. Otherwise, relocate the Rangers AHL Affiliate here.)
The Divisions will be reconfigured: Northeast- Buffalo, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City* Atlantic- Boston, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, Hartford*, New Jersey Southeast- Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay Central- Detroit, Columbus, Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis Northwest- Vancouver, Minnesota, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg* Pacific- Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim, Dallas \
*****- New rivalries will be made and reestablished.
- Montreal vs. Quebec City- battle of Quebec
- Boston vs. NY Rangers- a rivalry renewed
- Washington vs. Pittsburgh- More Ovi/Sid rivalry games
JUST TO NAME A FEW
What really upsets me is that the NHL will not allow this to happen. It is not only bothering me, but many others in the NHL fan community. They complain that when they resided in those cities, they had no fans. The reasons that they relocated were due to stadium issues and the financial troubles that came with it, which explained the depreciating fan attendance. Now with new arenas, that problem will seize to exist. I understand the intentions of putting teams in these markets, to expand hockey to other civilians and to draw more tourism in those areas, but it didn't work. Why, oh why, is Bettiman passing up on these great opportunities to improve the league? Is he afraid that Cindy Crosby will not like it? Is he worried that other teams will suffer? Whatever the reason may be, wake up Gary! Save the franchises, relocate them to new and demanding areas. Do not let them suffer!