Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Hamilton Coyotes?


The following is written by David Kamoe, a life-long sports fan whose sister is a close friend. David is an avid A's fan, wen to to high school with Drew Gooden and can't believe that Giants commentator Mike Krukow used to refer to the right-centerfield expanse at Pac Bell Park as "Finley Alley," referring to Steve Finley who remarkably wore a Giants uniform for a season. David will likely be stopping by these parts a few times a month, so treat him right. And no sister jokes.

All right, so I’m not a complete expert on the inner workings of the NHL or the U.S. dollar to Canadian dollar exchange rate. What I do know is that the NHL made a giant mistake in allowing the Winnipeg Jets to be “relocated” to Glendale/Phoenix back in 1996. There are various reasons for this including: poor location, little-to-no fan base, and a money-losing franchise.

All told, each of these issues is interwoven. The snowy landscape of Winnipeg, Manitoba and the Winnipeg Arena fostered the careers of Teemu Selanne, Nikolai Khabibulin, Kris Draper, and Keith Tkachuk. They also had a nice, simple logo featuring the team’s name in white and a jet airliner. Plus, they represented Central Canada, an area generally not noticed by most Americans.

In truth, more people are familiar with the city of Phoenix, Ariz. What they are not as familiar with is Glendale, Ariz. I can’t imagine Gary Bettman and the powers that be in the NHL sitting around and thinking “Hockey in Phoenix? Sounds good.” Phoenix is the home of Spring Training baseball, the Suns, and the Cardinals. It is not the home of hockey.

Unsurprisingly, the Coyotes do not draw well and their losing money faster than a drunken CEO on a craps run in Vegas. Does that mean there aren’t a few Arizonans who have adopted the Coyotes as their own? No, but I would be very surprised. Frankly, I can only imagine that transplants from cold weather U.S. states or ex-pat Canadians are Coyotes fans.

This leads to the current situation where Research in Motion Ltd. head Jim Basille is trying to relocate the team to Hamilton, Ontario. Basille has been meeting roadblocks from the NHL, Glendale city officials, and other owners. Pushback by the city of Glendale combined with the Maple Leafs lack of desire for more competition in-province seems reasonable. The unreasonable comes from the NHL who seems to think it can have a hockey organization flourish in Arizona.

The alternative as presented by Basille is to move the Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontario. The Leafs are against this because they feel it provides extra competition since Hamilton is much closer to Toronto than Ottawa. It is my personal opinion that this would be a good idea if not for another idea: give the Coyotes back to Winnipeg.

The city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba is not exactly a vacation destination. The only celebrity I know of from Winnipeg is former “Let’s Make a Deal” host Monty Hall. The only professional team in Winnipeg right now is the CFL’s Blue Bombers who recently had the good sense to not sign Adam “Pacman” Jones.

Basille’s motto for the Coyotes to Hamilton is “Make it Seven” referring to having seven teams in Canada. I agree, I just think that the seventh team should be in Winnipeg and he should push for an eighth in Quebec City. What say you, Jim Basille?

56 comments:

HM said...

Hamilton is actually slightly closer to Buffalo than it is to Toronto. He should have bought the Sabres out of BK and moved them to some arena half-way between the two cities -- Grimsby? St. Catherines?

I have no idea how Toronto (population of metro -- 5 million plus) could honestly claim competition from Hamilton (metro population about 750,000). This would be like Chicago vehenmently opposing a new NBA club in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Anonymous said...

I was not aware of that. Clearly I'm no genius when it comes to Ontario geography either. I don't know what the Sabres situation is but seeing as they're the only other game in town besides the Bills, I'd think they should stay. Basille tried to buy the Penguins and move them but that one bounced too. I don't know why the Leafs are prickly about this, my guesstimated geography was my sole guess. Since that's not the case, I guess Hamilton is the best possible location short of moving the Coyotes back to Winnipeg or to somewhere like St. Catherines. Thank you for the information, David

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