Let me just say, I applaude Mr. Blackberry for his moves to secure the Nashville Predators and move them to Hamilton. Good on you. It just goes to show that if you resist something that is right, it will eventually happen, so why resist?
Markets like Nashville, Carolina and Atlanta are in the Sun Belt and are not healthy when it comes to fan support. Instead of allowing these teams to move to where they could be successful, Bettman wants them to stay. Note to Gary, if the fans aren’t there, how are they to buy tickets and support the team.
There are markets that are natural for the NHL to relocate teams to. Kansas City has a brand new arena and good fan support since they tried to woo both the St. Louis Blues and the Pittsburgh Penguins there (I still think the KC Penguins is a good name). Another market would be Las Vegas because of the gamblers who happen to also be.. Canadian.
Markets like Hamilton, Winnipeg and Halifax. Even Quebec City. Wait… What was that.. oh right those cities are in CANADA!
We all know Gary Bettman has a hate on for Canada. Here we have a guy who signs two deals for TV rights. One to CBC for 100 Million, and one to NBC for nothing. One is in Canada, one is in the USA. Which one gets to dictate the playoff schedule? Logic would dictate the one who forks of 100 Million.. Right????
Two teams have moved from Canada to the US during Bettman’s time in the NHL. Meanwhile the league has expanded and more teams have moved in the US. The problem is that instead of creating demand for the product, thus markets wanting their own, Bettman has thrown whatever on the wall and expected it to stick. Hockey in Atlanta… Didn’t they try that once before?
And there is my case in point. Atlanta. Had the Flames, who moved to Calgary. Then they got a second team. If a city like Atlanta, that HOTBED of Hockey fandom can get a second chance, why not Winnipeg, or Quebec City?
Why? CANADA. That nasty six letter word that Gary Bettman hates.
Now flash over to Mr. Blackberry. Not only does he have the money, but the balls to even go and get a lease deal done with Hamilton, where he wants to move the Predators to. All without having approval of the league. And I say good on him. He has a city that wants a team, with an arena that is somewhat acceptable (but is willing to sink the money in to improve it) and a fan base in the Golden Horseshoe that can definately support it. Not only that, you don’t see many people lining up to go and buy the Predators do you? No. So why move it, because its a market that has seen the product, loves the product and can support the product. There is demand so supply it.
For all of the good Gary Bettman has done (ballooning salaries, lamebrained expansion, lockout), you’d think he had the business sense to put product where there is demand… right???
That’s why he has to go.
On a side note: Great move by Balsillie. Get a lease, start showing support from the location you want the team, so that if the NHL Board of Governors denies Balsillie the team or the move, the NHL will get a huge black eye. I love it. Excellent play. And besides, Toronto area fans should be happy with Hamilton getting a team. It will be the first time in a long time the GTA has seen winning hockey. :)