Media Commentary – Nov. 12, 2009

By now, many of you have heard that the NHL has come out and said that a second team in South-western Ontario, and maybe even the GTA, would be a good idea.

And I agree.

But what is bothering me about the media coverage of this admission is how many outlets and people are already discussing where the team could end up, how it would come to be (i.e. expansion or relocation) and when it will arrive.

From my point of view, I really think everyone is getting ahead of themselves. The way I see it, all the NHL has done is said what everyone has known or figured for years. Nothing more and nothing less.

The league is no closer to putting a team in South-western Ontario than it was when the Phoenix Coyotes and Jim Balsillie were battling the NHL in court. It’s sad, but that’s the case. At least that’s what I think.

Now, let’s be honest. There are teams in trouble. I have not examined each team’s books, but from what I have read, the following teams are in precarious financial straits: Phoenix, Columbus, Atlanta, Carolina, Florida and (likely) Tampa Bay. Anaheim, as well, I believe is not doing as well as it was in the years before and after its Stanley Cup win in 2007.

And let’s also be honest that it’s not likely all these teams will survive in their current markets. Should Atlanta fail, it would be the NHL’s second failure in that city, with the original Atlanta Flames moving after the 1979-1980 season to Calgary.

I also believe there should not be hockey teams in areas that almost never see snow and temperatures low enough for long enough to form outdoor rinks (e.g. the states of Florida and Arizona).

But the crux of this, as it appears I have gone off on a tangent is this: all the NHL has admitted is that, yes, Southwestern Ontario would be a fertile market for an NHL team. Will it happen? It’s likely. When will it happen? There is no timetable.

So, people, let’s wait until we hear something more concrete.