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Afternoon Line

Turns out that Bettman, according to my source, has told Balsillie that if he behaves himself and doesn’t create any more spectacles or bad publicity for the league, he will eventually get a team.

Given the cantankerous history between Balsillie and the NHL, I wonder if it will be the Phoenix Coyotes?

-Mike Ozanian of Forbes

thanks to a follower on Twitter for the pointer.

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

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Both Phoenix and Florida, at the very least, are ticking time bombs. Many would also argue the same about Columbus and possibly even Nashville or Tampa Bay.

It would be insane to completely run off a billionaire like Balsillie.

As defensive and cantankerous as Bettman can be, he has gotta be slowly coming to the realization that he will ultimately have two options:

1) Contract unsuccessful, money-losing clubs (Florida, Phoenix, etc.), or

2) Accept that small-market clubs like Winnipeg, Quebec City, Hamilton, etc., are gonna have to be part of the landscape.

He can’t have it both ways. He cannot desire to stay at 30 teams AND shut out these smaller markets. These ownership groups, like we saw in Atlanta, will get to the point where they’d rather walk away than keep operating at an annual loss of >$25M.

Posted by Eric H. on 06/07/11 at 06:12 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

It’s going to be hard for Balsillie to get what he wants without stirring the pot.

He wants to move a team almost halfway between Buffalo and Toronto.  That is not going to sit well with the league’s most powerful franchise and a team that just got a new and committed owner.  Balsillie doesn’t want to own a team in Quebec City, he wants to own one in Hamilton.  He’s going to have to step on toes to make that happen.

And to that, I say “good on him”.  Toronto has a much bigger demand for NHL hockey than they have supply.  Despite Hamilton being roughly the same population as Winnipeg, the surrounding area is a much more densely populated section of Canada and is filled with people that have both the money and the desire to drive an hour to see a team.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/07/11 at 06:34 PM ET

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Both Phoenix and Florida, at the very least, are ticking time bombs. Many would also argue the same about Columbus and possibly even Nashville or Tampa Bay.

Florida’s fine everywhere but on the ice. The ownership was just bragging about how awesome the Panthers are doing (financially) the other day, and they keep buying real estate around the arena. Winnipeg will move again before Florida does.

Posted by steviesteve on 06/07/11 at 06:38 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

He’s going to have to step on toes PAY BIG BUCKS to make that happen.

FIXED

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 06/07/11 at 06:39 PM ET

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Saying Florida is doing well financially would be like saying Afghanistan is a good example of a properly functioning democracy.

Posted by Eric H. on 06/07/11 at 06:40 PM ET

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Toronto has a much bigger demand for NHL hockey than they have supply.

This.  Perhaps I’m mistaken but they currently don’t have NHL hockey, do they? smile

Posted by BobTheZee on 06/07/11 at 07:47 PM ET

cs6687's avatar

Phoenix, Florida, and the Islanders are the three biggest question marks. The Islanders are signing guys like Grabner and Moulson to long-term, backloaded deals, which indicates a cash-flow problem. Don’t rule out the Islanders moving within a few years if they can’t get a new arena.

Posted by cs6687 on 06/07/11 at 08:07 PM ET

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My money is on the Islanders winding up at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Makes perfect sense. And your observation about the back-loaded deals being indicative of a cash-flow problem is spot-on. They have the most outdated building in the league. I bet they try to get a new arena for a bit longer, and when it doesn’t work out, well it’s a short move down to Brooklyn.

Posted by Eric H. on 06/07/11 at 08:12 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Don’t forget KC they tried for the Pens & Hartford did too

Posted by Evilpens on 06/07/11 at 08:22 PM ET

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Kansas City is a possibility, although the NHL would have to be awfully reluctant about going to yet another non-traditional market in which hockey failed once.

Hartford is a non-factor until they come up with plans for a new arena, which may never happen for all we know.  For us daydreamers, it’d be cool to have the Whalers back, but I’m not holding my breath.

Quebec City is only once again being mentioned because of their plans to get an arena built.

Posted by Eric H. on 06/07/11 at 08:26 PM ET

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Saying Florida is doing well financially would be like saying Afghanistan is a good example of a properly functioning democracy.

Afghanistan must be doing better than I thought it was.

Did you know that Sunrise Sports gets almost all the non-hockey money (concerts, circuses, etc) from the Bankatlantic Center as long as the Panthers are a tenant? Did you know Bankatlantic is the 17th most-profitable venue of its size on Earth, and the 4th most-profitable venue of it’s size in NA? Sounds like a sweet deal to me.

Posted by steviesteve on 06/07/11 at 08:39 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

That’s a pretty easy statement for Bettman to make, because it prevents Balsillie from being Balsillie. I think it’s a—gack, hack, cough, pardon me, I’m choking on my words—genius move by the Chairman.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/07/11 at 08:39 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

As somebody who lives a relatively short drive from the Sprint Center in KC and would likely buy season tickets to whatever NHL tenant came to town, I can unequivocally say that Kansas City is a poor choice for an NHL franchise.

#1 forget the relative population.  That 2.2M people in the greater Kansas City area are spread way the hell out.  While credit is due to the city for placing the Sprint Center in a well-accessible downtown area surrounded by exactly the kind of businesses you want surrounding a sports arena (bars & restaurants), it doesn’t change the fact that the larger part of the population would have to drive in on a regular basis.  Combine that with how well KCMOs roads are cleared during inclement weather (like the kind of stuff that happens throughout the hockey season) and the city’s improving-but-still-not-great public transportation setup and we’re cutting a lot of people out.

#2 Kansas City is a bandwagon sports town.  Talk sellout numbers if you want, but the Chiefs are the most popular game in town and they don’t fill Arrowhead stadium.  If you’re not ready to move a competitor, you’re going to run into problems almost instantly with getting people to continue showing up after the initial attraction wears off. 

Kansas City is attractive because, of all the cities that would like a franchise, they’re the only one with an ultra-modern arena and a very attractive arena deal (provided they would offer another team the same deal they offered the Penguins, which may not be as likely anymore considering the Sprint Center is doing just fine making money through concerts and other events without an anchor tenant).  Unfortunately, if you’re talking about moving the Isles, it’s not going to work.  Phoenix may be able to build momentum off the concept that they’re a decently-run franchise that could maybe sniff past the first round of the playoffs soon.  But ultimately, there are much better options out there for the NHL in the long run.

Shrinking New York down to one hockey team would be a bad idea.  I mean, it might be a better idea than letting the Islanders languish in that terribly outdated arena, but New York can support two of any team, hockey included.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/07/11 at 08:52 PM ET

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As far as I can tell, here is the complete and entire list of people who would be willing to pay some amount of their own, personal money to purchase an NHL franchise:

Jim Balsillie.

Period.  End of list.

OF COURSE Bettman is going to come back around and make nice with Balsillie.  The NHL has owned the Coyotes for almost two full years now, and nobody wants the team.  If the idiots in Glendale weren’t so rabid to flush 25 mil a year down the toilet, Balsillie would have had either the Coyotes or the Thrashers 6 months ago or longer.

Nobody who can fund an NHL team (and by ‘fund’ I mean absorb 10’s of millions of dollars in losses per year) wants to. 

So that leaves Balsillie.

The Phoenix Coyotes and Bettman are the short, fat, drunk, desperate woman sitting at the bar at 2am, and Balsillie’s the only guy buying drinks.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/07/11 at 10:15 PM ET

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My money is on the Islanders winding up at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Makes perfect sense

Not going to happen, Barclays is designed for basketball only with obstructed view seats for any possible hockey layout.

Posted by timbits on 06/07/11 at 11:20 PM ET

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#2 Kansas City is a bandwagon sports town.  Talk sellout numbers if you want, but the Chiefs are the most popular game in town and they don’t fill Arrowhead stadium.  If you’re not ready to move a competitor, you’re going to run into problems almost instantly with getting people to continue showing up after the initial attraction wears off.

Bingo, KC would be a horrible choice for a team to locate. Their history has proven this over and over.

Posted by timbits on 06/07/11 at 11:23 PM ET

Primis's avatar

With Winnipeg back with a team, the door has closed on Hamilton and Quebec City for now.  Hamilton in particular won’t acceptably even support AHL hockey.

Canada got their 7th.. a sketchy one at that.  They won’t get an 8th.  Ballsille wants a Canadian franchise, that’s his whole schtick.

Bettman knows this.  He has almost no chance anytime soon…

Posted by Primis on 06/08/11 at 09:46 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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