Give it to Canada

The following is an editorial which I wrote for my writing class in school, since it has to do with hockey, and my teacher told me to publish it, where better to post it, but the site! Most of it is things you know, but its my view on why Canada deserves another team! Enjoy.

Hockey; It’s Canada’s Game

Adam Reid argues why Canada deserves a seventh hockey team

Go anywhere in the world and ask the question, “What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Canada?” and the reply you will get more often than not will be hockey. Now, if you ask the same question about the United States, chances are hockey will not be your response. Just a simple question, but if Canada is known for hockey then why is it that there are three times more hockey teams in America than in Canada? A country which is known for hockey should have more than that, should they not? How could this be possible?

Well the answer for this can be found by looking no further than the NHL Commissioner himself Gary Bettman. Bettman was born in New York, United States of America. He is against the idea of a team heading north of the border, and he has been accused of having an “Anti-Canada agenda.” In fact, since Bettman has taken over as commissioner back in 1991 two Canadian teams have closed up shop and headed south, the Quebec Nordiques being the first as they headed to Denver in 1995 and the Winnipeg Jets re-located to Phoenix back in 1996. The question now is, “If Bettman permitted two teams to head to the United States, why are teams not allowed to move to Canada?”

Nobody has asked himself this question more than businessman Jim Balsillie. Balsillie is a Canadian businessman and CEO of the Canadian company Research in Motion. He is known as a pioneer for trying to relocate teams to Canada. He has tried three times to bring a team north of the border, but each time he has ended up empty handed.

His first attempt was with the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2006. Because this was his first attempt on a relocation to Canada he quickly withdrew his bid to move the franchise when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the move would not take place. His second attempt was in 2007 with the Nashville Predators. He had placed an offer to buy the team because despite the team finishing with one of the best records in the league, they finished 21st overall in the NHL that season for attendance. On June 14, 2007 Balsillie began to accept deposits for season tickets through Ticketmaster. On the first day alone he collected more than 7000 deposits towards season tickets, and within days had capped deposits for luxury boxes at 80. By the 19th of June he was said to have over 12,000 deposits for season tickets, far exceeding Predators’ season ticket base. But, as with the first attempt it was quickly shot down as team re-location was not wanted.

His most recent attempt was last year when Balsillie made an offer of 212-million dollars to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes who had filed for bankruptcy. Balsillie had even agreed to pay the 17-million dollars which was necessary so the Coyotes could operate before a sale. Hours later, the NHL activated their proxy agreement which stated that Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes had no say in what happened to the team because the NHL would be in charge. The decision would be discussed in court at a later date. Before the decision went to court, Balsillie made a website called “www.makeitseven.ca” as a last effort push to give the court and commissioner Bettman a reason to bring the Coyotes to Canada. The site received automatic support as it attracted more than 25,000 supporters over night. Balsillie even had Labatt Breweries and Home Hardware enter as his first two anchor corporate partners. But, ultimately the courts sided with commissioner Bettman and the Coyotes, just like the Predators, and Penguins before them never did reach the promise land.

Jim Balsillie was not the only person who tried to bring another hockey team to Canada. In June 2009, a group headed by Andrew Lopez and Herbert Carnegie proposed a one billion dollar plan for another Toronto team called the Legacy to play in 2012. A 30,000 seat arena was to be built, with 15,000 seats to be under $50 or less. Twenty-five percent of net profits would be given to charity.

Alexander Medvedev, the president of the Kontinental Hockey League, which is Russia’s professional hockey league, expressed interest in buying an NHL team and moving it back to Quebec City.

All of this would leave all Canadian hockey fans with a bad taste in their mouths. Clearly, Canada is a great hockey market as Hamilton proved that they could support a team twice by purchasing tickets as soon as they are available. Also, after makeitseven.ca was created it automatically drew more and more fan support. Recently Hamilton and Quebec have both passed notions to build new stadiums in their cities, and construction has begun, therefore why can’t an American team come to Canada?

Right now, Canada is home to six Canadian teams. Those teams being the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadiens. That is great if you live in one of those huge six markets, but what about other hockey fans living in Canada, they have no more home town pride. If a team was to come to Canada, there are actually four other markets which could welcome a NHL team.

1) Winnipeg – Sure they lost the Jets, but the economy has grown to 3 times the rate it was back in 1996. They would also bring in fan support from not only from all over Manitoba, but fans from Saskatchewan would also throw their support behind another ‘Peg team. Bettman ultimately said that if a team were to return to Canada, they would go to Winnipeg. But the question is when this may occur?

2) Quebec City – Since 1995 the economy of Quebec has become very diverse. Quebec’s unemployment has been ranked among the lowest in North America. A new $400-million dollar arena is set to start construction and suites for the non-existent building have already sold out.

3) Hamilton – Not only is the market restricted to Hamilton, as more than three million people live within an 80-kilometer drive of Copps Coliseum. The city has already thrown its support behind the move once with Balsillie, including doing things to fix up the arena and make the city more presentable, therefore why would they not do it the second time.

4) Atlantic Canada – Halifax would be the best location for a team in Atlantic Canada. If a team was placed in Halifax, they would draw fan support from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and even from places such as Maine in the United States.

Teams such as Atlanta, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix, and Tampa Bay currently play in far-from-filled arena’s night in and night out despite ticket prices being far more inferior than those in Canada which silences any American critic saying a team could not be supported in Canada. Also, as for Bettman saying a team will not be moving out of America, and expansion is not an option, it was him who has begged and tried to expand a team into Russia, only to get rejected time after time by IIHF’s Rene Fasel who said he would strongly oppose any expansion by the NHL into European Markets.

Therefore, with these teams playing before half empty stadiums during eight-months of the year, why wouldn’t a team be permitted to move to Canada as our teams are always playing before sold-out crowds in their own respective stadiums? Hamilton has shown Bettman and the rest of the league that teams will be supported and the teams will be playing in front of sold out crowds. Municipal governments have passed motions for the approval to build new hockey arena, and the fans have bought tickets to watch teams that don’t even exist yet. Finding players to play if the league was to expand is not an issue either as there are currently hundreds of players who are free-agents, or are playing in lower leagues such as the AHL who would love to get a chance to support a new team. Therefore, I challenge Mr. Bettman, with such an interest and fan base in Canada, why would you not want to bring a team here, if you’re not looking to expand, then why are you trying to expand into Europe? Bring a team to Canada where it will be a hit, rather than in some low market American region, and just leave the hockey to the Canadians.

-Adam Reid
-adam_mapleleafs@hotmail.com

5 Comments

George Prax's picture

Great job here Adam. Canada definitely deserves a 7th team and frankly I don't think it'll be too long before we get it. The NHL is due for some expansion (I don't think they're going to move any teams unless it's to other US cities). Quebec is going to happen, too many people there want it to happen and they're building a new arena. Whether it can happen in Winnepeg, I don't know. Halifax would be an interesting choice but I think it's a little too remote. Southern Ontario is probably the other best choice simply due to population.

I've argued in the past that even Montreal could support a second hockey team. They're proving that a tiny bit with the new junior team. But I think we're going to get an AHL team if the Bulldogs decide to move.

But ya, I think it will definitely come, probably with expansion.

Great read!

Adam Reid's picture

Thanks, George! I agree, Quebec now has their own National team, so now they will focus all their attention towards another NHL team, which I can see in the near futur.
I do think Montreal would be interesting if they were to host another team though!

George Prax's picture
Adam Reid wrote:

Thanks, George! I agree, Quebec now has their own National team, so now they will focus all their attention towards another NHL team, which I can see in the near futur.
I do think Montreal would be interesting if they were to host another team though!

I've actually been thinking about it a lot. Laval, the Island north of Montreal, is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada. I don't think they have more than 500,000 residents, but it's a REALLY big territory and lots of condos/houses are being built there not to mention the businesses. Combine that with the 3 million people from Montreal and the surrounding areas and I think you could justify it just as much as you could justify a second team in Toronto.

MrDaveLaws's picture

I tweet to the NHL "Build it Canada, will fill it", and always on board on getting NHL teams back in Canada. With dollar good now and salary cap in place, makes CDN markets viable. For me it's Gary Bettman refusal to admit he was wrong about the US Markets in the south. Until there's is change at the top, I'm afraid it's steady the course.