With the Phoenix Coyotes filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, co-CEO of Research in Motion, the maker of the famed Blackberry, Jim Balsillie made an offer to purchase the struggling National Hockey League franchise with the intent of moving it to southern Ontario.
No precise potential location has been named, but the areas that are most likely are Hamilton and Kitchener/Waterloo. Then, of course, there’s all that talk about Toronto being able to support a second NHL team, but we’ll ignore that for now.
A franchise for Hamilton is no new concept. Copps Coliseum, seating over 17 thousand, was completed in 1985 while a team backed by Tim Hortons Donuts tried to land an NHL team for the city. It was no secret that Buffalo and Toronto, the two closest cities with a franchise to Hamilton, were not happy about this idea and rumours quickly spread that they were influential in guaranteeing the expansion to the steel city never came to fruition.
I don’t believe any sensible person doubts these potential areas could support an NHL franchise, but league commissioner Gary Bettman has already gone on record stating that the Coyotes will not be leaving Phoenix. A seventh hockey team in Canada would be more than welcome, especially one with such strong backing.
This is just another idiotic feather in Bettman’s cap, in this writer’s opinion, as there is nothing negative about Balsillie’s proposal. Balsillie himself is an avid fan, still playing hockey on a weekly basis. A better potential hockey team owner could not be found anywhere right now.
Also, before the Phoenix fans get their noses out of joint, let’s remember that the team was the Winnipeg Jets before relocating to Arizona in 1996 and this is a huge sore spot, and will remain one for a very long time, for the people of Winnipeg.
Hockey in a hotbed like southern Ontario or the Arizona desert – which sounds like the better idea? Obvious, isn’t it? Unfortunately, the obvious seems increasingly difficult for the, “let’s make hockey friendly for Americans” Bettman.