NHL Relocation: The Worst Spots

A commenter named Matt added this Saturday, and I don’t think many people got to see it. It was, how you say, an excellent response to the lively relocation discussion we were immersed in. Anyways, I sought his permission, then copy and pasted it into this post. It’s like a clip show, but better. Thanks Matt. Without further ado…

Simply enough, Gary Bettman gives a flying rat’s ass about the NHL and its fans.

The two best places for relocation:

Winnipeg: The city has the MTS ready for another NHL team and enough interested fans to fill the seasts. In 1995 the citizens of Winnipeg had a rally with 35,000 in attendance to keep the Jets where they were. A few years ago the citizens of Phoenix also had a rally to keep the Coyotes where they are. Just 200 hundred people showed up at that rally. Who wants hockey more? You do the math.

Things got so bad that the team that under the direction of Bettman the league bought the team in 2009 for $140 million, then gave the team an additional $35 million loan to stay afloat, but they’re still losing money. Even after trying to reach a deal to buy the Coyotes, Matt Hulsizer said “It’s not going to look smart for a long time. This has not been a home run investment for us.”

Send the Coyotes back to Winnipeg where they belong.

Quebec: Gary Bettman is doing his absolute best to screw hockey fans in Quebec. He just said that the NHL has no interest in helping build a new arena where hockey flourishes, but he would rather keep teams in Phoenix and Atlanta where they have lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

While Seattle has bragging rights of being the first team in the US to win the Stanley Cup, I don’t think Seattle has much of a fan base for the NHL. The Key Arena holds a little over 15,000, but I’m not so sure that the fan base is there. However, it would be tantalizing to see Vancouver have a rival.

THE WORST CONSIDERATIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION:

HOUSTON

As if pushing the NHL farther south will be anymore successful than Dallas or Atlanta?

The Houston Aeros are the IHL affiliate for the Minnesota Wild and are a pretty successful team at that. But in spite of their performance, the average attendance for the 2010-11 season is just a little over 5,300, while the all time record is a little over 13,000. But the kicker is that the Toyota Center has a 17,800 seat capacity for Aeros games. The record is well under seating capacity by about 4,000 seats. Hockey just isn’t popular in Houston.

Fans say that if the league strikes a major television network deal then that will be all the impetus needed to bring the NHL to sixth largest city in the US. But this is a town dominated by the Astros and Texans. Could the NHL find a home in Houston? Maybe. But if you’re a hockey fan in Houston, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

KANSAS CITY

In 1974, the NHL arrived in Kansas City. It was hoped that the team’s name would be the Mohawks, but the Chicago Blackhawks had a tizzy over that because it so closely resembled their name, so the team became the Kansas City Scouts instead.

The first eight games were dismal for the Scouts, dropping seven and tying one. They finished the ’74-’75 season with a 15-54-11 record. The next season was even worse at 12-56-12. The very next season they packed their bags and moved to Colorado and later would become the New Jersey Devils.

During their time in Kansas City, the Scouts failed to fill the seats, averaging a little over 8,000 seats out of 17,000 seats at the Kemper Arena. Even after the owners tried to hold a ticket drive, they only sold 2,000 tickets.

Kansas City had their shot at the NHL, and their shot only lasted two seasons.

TORONTO

There’s not a word in any language in the known Universe to describe how bad of an idea it is to move another team to Toronto. The Leafs make more money than any other team in the league. The city needs another NHL team about as much as much as Phoenix needs a fleet of snowplows. Two good examples of cities with two NHL teams that don’t need them are New York and Boston.

In 1972, the New England Whalers were a fledgling team in the WHA. When they became an NHL team they moved to Boston. But after having trouble playing in Boston due to the presence of the Bruins, the team moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1979, who you’ll read about in a minute.

Another example is New York. The Islanders had their day in the sun, but New York isn’t big enough for them and the Rangers. Now the Islanders can’t fill seats and are up for relocation.

So introducing yet another NHL team to Toronto is a very bad idea.

HARTFORD:

I hate to say it, but for as much as I miss the Whalers, bringing the NHL back to Hartford is a bad idea. During their 18 seasons in the league, the Whalers only had 3 winning seasons and only made the playoffs once. On top of lackluster performance they had trouble selling tickets.

CLEVELAND

Like the Kansas City Scouts, the Cleveland Barons only lasted two years in the NHL , had an abysmal record both seasons, and didn’t make the playoffs. Now that Ohio has an NHL team once again with the Blue Jackets, things still suck for hockey in Ohio. Not only do the Blue Jackets suck, but they can’t fill the seats, either.

By the way, the idea of not using AHL attendance as a gauge for a potential NHL team is ridiculous. If any of you who think that actually using an AHL team as a gauge really is a good idea, give me an example or two of places where this has actually worked.

The best thing the league can do in order to save some money (and some honor) is contract teams where hockey clearly isn’t loved and cherished. Take the Thrashers, Panthers, Predators, Blue Jackets, and the Lightning or Hurricanes and contract them all. Take the money and best players from each team and move them to another city where a team will flourish, and say good-bye to players who don’t perform as well.

The only real losers here are the fans who keep getting kicked in the balls by Bettman and the Board of Governors. In the meantime, not a damned thing is going to change back to the way things were until Bettman is shown the door.

66 thoughts on “NHL Relocation: The Worst Spots

  1. The problem with Houston is more that a good chunk of the population isn’t actually from the city and are already fans of the teams from where they are actually from. And those who are from the city have had no reason at all to get into hockey

    I’d only want Houston to get a team so that I could go see the Pens once or twice a year

    /houston is a horrible city and nobody should live here

  2. I agree with all of this except the Blue Jackets. The fans have absolutely shit to cheer for, so they don’t show up. Why should they fork over $30 a seat (lowest walk-up price) to watch the team constantly lose?

    When the Blue Jackets are good, the place is packed. I have a 20-game plan, but I’m getting tired of watching Nash and a bunch of replacement players.

  3. I don’t get the support for contraction. There’s enough talent to support the teams. The quality of play post lock out has been much better than the decade leading up to it

  4. The city has the MTS ready for another NHL team

    Unfortunately, not true as the arena currently stands.

    He just said that the NHL has no interest in helping build a new arena where hockey flourishes

    Why would the NHL want to commit a team or money to build an arena when local investors appear willing to do so without assurances of getting a team?

    The Houston Aeros are the IHL affiliate for the Minnesota Wild

    AHL, minor quibble, but the IHL no longer exists.

  5. The NHL needs to contract about 10 teams before they consider relocating one.

    Start with the Bruins…they’re awful on their fans

  6. So introducing yet another NHL team to Toronto is a very bad idea.

    I know we debated this last week, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

  7. Take the Thrashers, Panthers, Predators, Blue Jackets, and the Lightning or Hurricanes and contract them all.

    The Predators are averaging 95% capacity at their games. CBJ needs to put a winning product on the ice for consecutive years, Carolina is slowing building a tradition.

    /wouldn’t be all that upset to see the others go

  8. Kansas City had their shot at the NHL, and their shot only lasted two seasons.

    That was over 30 years ago. Things can/have changed.

    As if pushing the NHL farther south will be anymore successful than Dallas or Atlanta?

    Dallas is quite successful actually. You’re on target with Atlanta though.

    Another example is New York. The Islanders had their day in the sun, but New York isn’t big enough for them and the Rangers. Now the Islanders can’t fill seats and are up for relocation.

    ?

  9. Another example is New York. The Islanders had their day in the sun, but New York isn’t big enough for them and the Rangers. Now the Islanders can’t fill seats and are up for relocation.

    The Islanders need a new facility, all attempts will be made to make that happen before they consider relocation. Nassau makes Rexall Place look like a palace.

  10. Kansas City had their shot at the NHL, and their shot only lasted two seasons.

    1) That was 34+ years ago
    2) Using that logic, Winnipeg nor Quebec should get a team, seeing as how they lost their original ones.

    Now I’m not on the KC bandwagon, but they’re going to get a long look from the NHL if a team moves.

  11. Another example is New York. The Islanders had their day in the sun, but New York isn’t big enough for them and the Rangers. Now the Islanders can’t fill seats and are up for relocation.

    Oh crap I missed this.

    The Islanders have about between 0-1% to do with the Rangers. The Islanders owner situation, plus the fact that the team sucks and Nassau Coliseum is a fucking dumpster fire are the reasons that no one goes to the games. Wang needs to go, as does this notion that the Islanders need some fucking Utopia complex with pedestrian malls otherwise they’re moving to some undisclosed location.

  12. Toronto is huge and hockey mad. Everything I’ve read on this subject indicates they’d do just fine. Also think this piece seems overly obsessed with on-ice success in its judgements on viable markets. The fact the Whalers were poorly run should not exclude Hartford from getting another team, though ticket sales might (also hard to trust ticket sales in a market that had threee winning seasons in 18 years).

  13. Also disagree with Toronto getting another team. It wouldn’t be Toronto, it’d be Hamilton most likely. Ask Garland Greene from TBL… he’s a huge Leafs fan and has openly said he’d welcome another team and consider switching to it.

    The Leafs can print their own money but the franchise itself is in total disarray from a hockey personnel standpoint. Brian Burke, while successful in other locations, has not been in Toronto. There’s a segment of Leafs fans that would welcome a 2nd team to root for since they haven’t won anything since 1967.

    Canada, especially Ontario, can definitely support another hockey team.

  14. The Predators are averaging 95% capacity at their games. CBJ needs to put a winning product on the ice for consecutive years, Carolina is slowing building a tradition.

    /wouldn’t be all that upset to see the others go

    Tampa draws well. Not insanely great, but well.

  15. Basically it comes down to if you put a winning product in an area, people will come see it. Except Florida. Fuck Florida.

  16. If the Islanders move, I’ll give up my Yankee fandom. The 1970s and 80s mean too much to Long Island to move the team. Geez/GSG are right… they just need a new barn. Nassau is terrible.

    I’d be more willing to move NJD than NYI. They got their new barn and still can’t fill it. Neither one will be going any where soon though.

  17. Basically it comes down to if you put a winning product in an area, people will come see it. Except Florida. Fuck Florida.

    Go Solar Bears

  18. After reading Matt’s response a couple times I don’t think he considered the long-term success of moving a team to Winnipeg.

    The MTS Centre currently sits 15K for hockey, which would make it one, if not the, smallest facility in the league.

    Luxury boxes are almost non-existent, The fact is, Winnipeg is not home to a significant amount of corporate dollars which are needed to buy the suites and keep the franchise afloat.

  19. houston is gross. If the city suddenly ceased to exist and the world reverted to its original state at that spot, and you went there, you would still think it was gross.
    It’s a horrible place.

  20. Tampa draws well. Not insanely great, but well.

    The Lightning would be the next one of the list I’d like to see stay.

  21. The MTS Centre currently sits 15K for hockey, which would make it one, if not the, smallest facility in the league.

    It would be the smallest by nearly 2K. Pretty sure Rexall is right now. It used to be the Igloo but Consol opened this year.

  22. To be fair, the Islanders have forever not drawn well…they’ve also forever sucked.

    Chicago was in the same position a few years ago.

  23. some fucking Utopia complex with pedestrian malls otherwise they’re moving to some undisclosed location.
    .

    ice shack village.
    /for Cardinals fans.
    //so for me.

  24. The MTS Centre currently sits 15K for hockey, which would make it one, if not the, smallest facility in the league.

    Easy! Make seats sizes od 19 inches across uniform.

    /O-Rena’d
    //Seriously, cramped.

  25. To be fair, the Islanders have forever not drawn well…they’ve also forever sucked.

    Management (Milbury, Snow) and owners (Wang, Kumar, etc., etc.).

    Chicago was in the same position a few years ago.

    And Chicago is leading the league in home attendance this year.

  26. To be fair, the Islanders have forever not drawn well…they’ve also forever sucked.

    Chicago was in the same position a few years ago.

    Ownership wise, yes, they were in the same position. But the facility issue has been prevalent for a while on Long Island.

    The Hawks didn’t draw because WWW sold all of his best players because he didn’t want to pay them. Their games also weren’t on television. People eventually got fed up until the old man died. You could shoot a cannon through the UC and not hit anyone from about 2001-2007.

    If the Isles get a new barn, they fix their ownership problem because I can pretty much guarantee Wang sells his stake at that point. At least they’re on MSG Network right now. Still making TV money and getting viewers.

  27. Chicago was in the same position a few years ago.

    And Chicago is leading the league in home attendance this year.

    Exactly. Winning gave SC a 14th franchise to follow.
    .

  28. Wait, they’re on MSG and not SNY? Why would the Rangers allow them on their network?

  29. Luxury boxes are almost non-existent, The fact is, Winnipeg is not home to a significant amount of corporate dollars which are needed to buy the suites and keep the franchise afloat.

    Looking at the website for MTS, there are 46 suites (Xcel has 66), so not terrible. Bigger worry would be lack of “club seating”.

  30. Wait, they’re on MSG and not SNY? Why would the Rangers allow them on their network?

    Sorry, I think you’re right. Although they may be on both.

  31. The Islanders are one of the only teams I can think of that actively appears to be ‘gaming’ the salary cap system by being under the cap floor (convoluted system of bonus application puts them above in terms of cap dollars).

  32. Looking at the website for MTS, there are 46 suites (Xcel has 66), so not terrible. Bigger worry would be lack of “club seating”.

    Definitely a nice arena. I can see concern having been through the undersized, but we can make it work arena situation here in Orlando.

    They’ll be asking for a new venue within 10-15 years if someone moves there.

    It will start like this…Seats will shrink…then they’ll start complaining about club seat revenue, etc.

  33. Looking at the website for MTS, there are 46 suites (Xcel has 66), so not terrible. Bigger worry would be lack of “club seating”.

    Fair enough, then that puts the number below Rexall Place where the Oilers have said the building is not up to current NHL standards and they are actively trying to get a new one built.

  34. re: Phoenix/Winnepeg

    I’m fine with moving the Coyotes out of Phoenix but the lease on Jobbing.com arena is what’s holding them back. The city of Glendale is being held hostage on that thing. I still don’t understand why they couldn’t put ice in at America West or whatever it’s called now. Plenty of hockey teams share their arena with a basketball squad. There’s so many issues with moving the Coyotes anywhere, let alone Winnepeg, that need to be cleared first. They really screwed the pooch on that one.

    Portland is still the best idea though.

  35. Fair enough, then that puts the number below Rexall Place where the Oilers have said the building is not up to current NHL standards and they are actively trying to get a new one built.

    You managed to get this out without a shot at Tambo or Lowe? Pretty mellow for a Monday.

  36. I still don’t understand why they couldn’t put ice in at America West or whatever it’s called now. Plenty of hockey teams share their arena with a basketball squad. There’s so many issues with moving the Coyotes anywhere, let alone Winnepeg, that need to be cleared first. They really screwed the pooch on that one.

    They did, according to wikipedia, terrible site lines made for bad viewing.

  37. You managed to get this out without a shot at Tambo or Lowe? Pretty mellow for a Monday

    I’m probably on a watch list and those two words as a trigger.

    I think America West is designed similar to the Key? Terrible venue for hockey.

  38. I’m fine with moving the Coyotes out of Phoenix but the lease on Jobbing.com arena is what’s holding them back. The city of Glendale is being held hostage on that thing

    I thought I had read somewhere that it was the opposite for a time, that the Yotes were basically paying Glendale $5 per car for parking after everything worked out.

  39. Simply enough, Gary Bettman gives a flying rat’s ass about the NHL and its fans.

    Got back from lunch and thought I’d address this as well, even though I have very little love for Bettman. He is simply the mouthpiece for the Board of Governors and to say he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the NHL and its fans is complete nonsense.

    If the owners and their representatives thought he was doing a terrible job promoting the league, growing revenues or alienating fans they would have turfed him a long time ago.

  40. The fact is, Winnipeg is not home to a significant amount of corporate dollars which are needed to buy the suites and keep the franchise afloat.

    this is ridiculously incorrect

  41. Things got so bad that the team that under the direction of Bettman the league bought the team in 2009 for $140 million, then gave the team an additional $35 million loan to stay afloat, but they’re still losing money.

    Fuck it, I’m riled up about this email so I’ll address this too.

    What the hell was the league supposed to do? Nothing says “look at us, we’re a viable business” to a new city like letting a team fold, relocating them without a plan in place or screwing over a municipal government that spent a boatload of money to finance a top notch facility.

  42. this is ridiculously incorrect

    Fetch, you tell me where the corporate dollars are coming from then?

  43. this is ridiculously incorrect

    Boeing, CanWest, the Insurance Industry I’ll grant you. But Crown corporations aren’t going to spend tax payers dollars to fund a privately owned franchise.

  44. Take the Thrashers, Panthers, Predators, Blue Jackets, and the Lightning or Hurricanes and contract them all.

    This is the best argument right here. I believe I said this last week.

  45. Good luck moving the Thrashers out of Atlanta without completely dissolving the ownership group. They own the Thrashers, Hawks, and the operating rights to Philips Arena. Seems to me it would be a massive pain in the ass to relocate them.

  46. houston is gross. If the city suddenly ceased to exist and the world reverted to its original state at that spot, and you went there, you would still think it was gross.
    It’s a horrible place.

    This times a thousand

  47. Many facts about the Aeros wrong as pointed out by thethirdintermission.blogspot.com.

    Great fact checking bud!

  48. Contraction would more than likely be the best option for the league for the long term. Actually taking up to 6 teams and making 1 or 2 out of them would yield some very good teams. The problem with contraction is not that there is not talent on the table, but that there is not a supportive fanbase with which to work with. Look at our current teams and the talent that is there, but there is no fans ( also see Tampa Bay Rays ). If there is no fans then take them, the Team, and put them where there is a fan base they will see and feel. Quebec and Winnipeg would be most excellent choices for return. Bettman’s experiment has not been a total failure but it hasn’t been successful either. Put hockey back where it belongs.

  49. Sorry, Tampa Bay has a good fan base. I have been to every Lightning game this season and we have had attendance that seems to average around 13,000-14,000/game. Not bad for a team that was bottom of the leage 2 seasons ago! Been to a couple of sell-outs this season, too. We have even been getting good attendance on Tuesday night games. Vinik & Stevie Y. have the plan and are working it. Say what you will, but they will turn Tampa Bay into a force to be rekoned with in the NHL. You can’t deny the awesome changes that they have made this season and almost COMPLETELY turned this franchise around in less than one season!

  50. Whaddya mean Hartford only made the SCP once?’86 Qtrs lost in OT of gm 7 @ MTL.’87 won the Adams…but bcuz Buf & mostly QUE started sucking bad they proceeded to make SCP for next 5 seasons subsequent to “glory”days of 85-87.True,3 winning seasons,had that part rt.I think why some teams moved was they knew they were never gonna get out of the div they were in;that playoff format they had in place from ’82-’93 was ridiculous.Isles/Caps 5 years IN A ROW.WPG was never gonna beat the Oilers.HFD wouldn’t survive vs BOS or MTL if they had to play 2 series just to get out of the ADAMS.LA had to make the Gretzky trade to get out of the Smythe…& that only worked once.

  51. no matter how far you contract somebody finishes last and their attendance goes down except maybe Montreal. Stay nearly last for 10 years ans even the best fans won’t spend money. CBJ just need to win a few.

  52. Close down Florida Panthers, and Phoenix.
    Move to Cincinnati and Winnipeg. KC is too dumb to support an NHL team. Maybe even Seattle wouldbe OK

  53. Fairly repetetive arguments …. and not very well researched. The Whalers had several playoff appearances …
    According to this writer’s logic, every league should dissolve a bunch of teams …..
    Bottom line, if a franchise is doing that badly, the owners would push to fold or sell, and no new owner would buy a team … it would be interesting to see the books, for sure, but it is never going to happen ….
    As for Winnipeg, the rink was built too small ( MTS Center ), and there is not enough cash or population to support NHL hockey. That is the hard truth.
    Quebec City would likely be fine …. too bad the Nords moved, Colorado’s gain
    After that, any location would be a gamble ….
    Interesting how the hockey media love to badmouth the teams in the southern US …. and how they forget the attendance troubles of the NFL, MLB and the franchise hopscotch of the NBA …..

  54. The argument that KC and Cleveland would not make for good relocation destinations now because two terrible franchises had dismal showings for a very short time during a period when, let’s face it, the NHL was not exactly a hot commodity in most of the lower 48 over 30 years ago is laughable! There are certainly reasons that it wouldn’t work out for those locations, but by this same logic the Dallas Cowboys should have never happened because it didn’t work out with the Dallas Texans almost a decade before.
    The fact remains: if you put a winning product on the ice, people will show up to watch…in most cases (looking at you, Florida).

  55. Houston, Texas
    Portland, Oregon
    Quebec City, Quebec
    Hamilton, Ontario

    Those are the 4 relocation spots that should be looked into for the Coyotes, Panthers & Islanders. They’re coming up next.

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