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Here We Go Again

MayflowerWith training camps not to far away, must be time to talk about fixing hockey. And for many in Canada, that means bringing more NHL franchises north of the border.

Mark Moore writes at the Hockey News online site that "relocating teams from Nashville, Phoenix, Atlanta and South Florida to Winnipeg, Quebec City, Halifax and Southern Ontario would give Canada 10 teams, or one-third, just as it had in the Original Six era.''

No one can dispute the Canadian economy is strong and is all but fueling whatever growth the NHL is experiencing right now. But we're a long way away from teams in the lower 48 up and moving. Sure, a team may find its way to a suburb of Toronto in the next decade and there would be worse places to put a team than Winnipeg or Halifax (from a selling tickets point of view, not when it comes to travel.) But the NHL isn't pulling up stakes any time soon, unless it's to Kansas City or Las Vegas, American cities who either have a spanking new arena or are in the process of getting one.

Taking a team out of the U.S. and moving it to Canada isn't going to get the NHL on ESPN any faster, isn't going to help the long-term growth of this league in the States. The NHL hasn't given up on teams like the Panthers -- who do have plenty of problems but seem intent on figuring out a way to make it a go -- Thrashers, Preds and Coyotes. And they shouldn't. The game is growing in these places, only not as fast as some would like.

The NHL would be wise to continue showing patience in these markets.

-- Here's Capitals owner Ted Leonsis' take on talk of canning some teams. Fun read.


Expos -- Speaking of Canada, the Canadiens are exploring the option of playing a game at Olympic Stadium in 2009. The former home of the Expos will need a lot of work, but the Canadiens have plenty of money. Talk is of opening the roof to have a true outdoor game. My pick to drop the first puck? Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Tim Raines and Warren 'Call Me Homie!' Cromartie.

With the Marlins off, Dave Van Horne could call the game as well.

Don't think Jeff Loria and Dave Samson will be invited for the festivities.

-- Tarik El-Bashir at the Washington Post says the Caps are going to have a couple cool bobblehead giveaways this year featuring coach Bruce Broudreau and Alex Ovechkin. Hope those are on Panther night.

-- John Tortorella wasn't out of work for long, although he won't behind any bench this season. Torts, fired by the Bolts a few months back, gets to pontificate on the game for TSN for at least one season -- while the Lightning pay him for not coaching them. He'll be back on the bench next year.

-- Old pal Mike Russo goes to the practice rink and finds a bunch of NHL guys working out, including the Panthers' Keith Ballard. But Mike don't care about the Panthers no more (OK, that's not true), so he talks to Marian Gaborik about coming into the season with a one-year deal. Good stuff.


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Our attendance may be lower than other teams but I think it is commensurate with the number of losing seasons and lack of playoff appearances. I wonder how many fans would go see the Canucks if they were bad for 8 consecutive years? I hear it was easy to get a ticket in Detroit in the '80's before they became Hockeytown. Yes, some of our northern friends may have a better following than we do, but I would be interested to learn how our attendance would compare if we had a winning product on the ice. I remember when the arena and center were full. It will be like that again when the Cats get and win in the playoffs. This town loves a winner!

The Capitals bobblehead giveaways are in games against New Jersey and St. Louis.


I grew-up in Winnipeg and my friends tell me the new arena is too small and there isn't enough corporate support in the city. Most of the people saying move teams to Canada are parrots that really don't understand the business end. The Jets were born in the city and grew out of the old WHA. That team was special, a new team isn't going to win over all the old fans. I know because I talk to former Jets season ticket holders that tell me they wouldn't buy a season ticket for a new team. Edmonton sells out every night but their arena is like 15,000 and there isn't much competition for the sports dollar. I agree that if Panthers had a winning couple of seasons the fans would be back like the good ole rat throwing days.

Bravo, George, on the relocation issue.

This has been a quiet story compared to the news that the Canadian dollar had surpassed the greenback in value earlier this year, but the U.S. dollar is supreme once more, a situation likely to be exacerbated as oil and natural resource values fall with the global economic slowdown...so arguments that Canada should have 1/3 of the NHL teams are pretty weak. They have 20% of the population, if that, of the States even if that translates to a much higher % of all NHL fans, it shows the sport needs to grow in the U.S. if it's going to grow at all.

I think expansion is the only way to get more teams in Canada, and 10 is pushing it.

Not to mention the lease agreement that's not up for another 20 years. Love how the guy writing that article doesn't go into that. Burns me up. Get over yourselves, the game has grown down here and the team's NOT going anywhere.

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