Thu, May
7
2009

The Wanderers of Ontario?

Thu, May 7, 2009

This post has been crossposted to the Waterloo Wellington Bloggers Association. Comments are open over there. Click here to continue the discussion

I do hope that billionaire Jim Balsillie is successful in purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes and moving the hockey team to an arena in southern Ontario. A lot of people are really rather excited about the prospect of having a new team to cheer, and the enthusiasm they’ve shown suggests to me that they deserve a team. If Balsillie has the money, and can make the move with a minimum of taxpayer investment, then this would be a boon for the local economy. And, given the short sightedness of the NHL board of directors, I have to say that I am motivated to get behind this move out of spite.

Montreal Wanderers Logo

I’m sorry, but the level of disdain the NHL directors have shown to Balsillie and, by extension, the very committed Canadian hockey fans who are behind him, not only shows poor business sense, but it’s an insult to my national pride. I mean, here is a man who wants to buy in, and is investing a lot of his own money to buy in, only to be thwarted by these nitwits because they think that Canadian markets don’t matter. He tried to buy the Nashville Predators for over $200 million, only to have the owner sell to an American interest who was offering almost $50 million less. He’s had the NHL directors directly step in to thwart his attempt to purchase and move the Pittsburgh Penguins, and now the idiots at the NHL are threatening to fight the move out of Phoenix in the courts. Since the courts have previously ruled that the NFL had no power in keeping the Rams out of St. Louis, I hope that Balsillie and the judge gives these guys what for.

Indeed, why stop there? “Make it seven”? How about we make it ten or eleven, by doing what we can, if anything, to encourage or cajole the NHL to pull teams away from where no natural ice exists at any time of the year, and relocate them to places where the fans actually give a damn. It’s not like any of these teams down south is making a lot of money, so let’s lose the Predators of Nashville and restore the Winnipeg Jets. Let’s ditch the Florida Panthers and bring back the Quebec Nordiques. Let’s give the Atlanta Thrashers a decent home in Halifax, and for good measure, let’s add a team for Regina and third team to the GTA; a GTA East to complement Balsillie’s GTA West offering.

And if the NHL directors don’t like it, let’s get Governor General Michaelle Jean to ask for her silverware back. She does technically still own it, doesn’t she?

Okay, probably not.

And, yeah, I’m probably taking this too seriously. I don’t even follow hockey.

Well, as much a I appreciate the enthusiasm of some area bloggers, and despite Balsillie’s obvious connections with the area, I think it unlikely that any of us will be cheering for the Waterloo Coyotes anytime soon. The Region of Waterloo just does not have the population on its own. The City of Hamilton boasts half a million people and Copps Colliseum. They’re also well located in a centre of a circle that includes such cities as St. Catharines, Oakville, Mississauga, London, Brantford as well as Kitchener-Waterloo. Not only would Balsillie have to invest in a new rink here, a Waterloo team would likely sacrifice support from St. Catharines and the Niagara Region, with no comparable centre to the north or northwest of us to take their place. Really, only Hamilton’s proximity to Buffalo and the territory of the Buffalo Sabres keeps a move to Hamilton from being a slam dunk. This is why they’re talking about building a new rink in Vaughan or Mississauga.

However, since there is strong support for a new team throughout southern Ontario, maybe Balsillie doesn’t have to put all his marbles in Hamilton’s Copps Colliseum. Perhaps there are rinks around the area which can host a few home games. The Ricoh Centre in Toronto’s Exhibition grounds, already the host of IHL (correction: AHL) games, can offer an outlet to those thousands of Torontonians unwilling to mortgage their homes and sell their first borns into slavery for Leaf tickets. Maybe the Aud in Kitchener could sell out a few times for a few special games around mid-season. Does London have a good rink? Does Oshawa?

We can call them the Wanderers, likening them to the Montreal Wanderers of yore, that won five Stanley Cups in the early part of the twentieth century.

Might work.


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