1) OK, before we get too far along we do want to congratulate the city of Winnipeg for getting an NHL team back/ We want to say we have NOTHING against that great capital city of Manitoba! It s a great All-Canadian city in the prairies. A very nice place to visit(except in winter!)
2) That all said, its a horrendous business decision. One that from what we've heard Gary Bettman wanting no part of but had no choice as there were no options left in Atlanta. Its sad because Atlanta had ZERO chance of making it. Not that its an awful sports town. Its not a great sports city but could have supported an NHL team if they were ever to actually have one. From day 1 management has botched the franchise. Could ANY NHL team( south of the border) other than perhaps the Rangers and Philly had decent attendance if they never won a playoff series in 10 years(and made the post season a mere once in that time??)
3) Even Chicago couldn't draw flies to games when they were run shoddily. So it was no wonder that the Thrashers run into the ground by hockey-dunce Don Waddell had one of the worst attendance records in the league. Who in their right mind would shell out thousands of dollars in this economy to see a losing team?? Very few so the owners needed to find a buyer for a team hemorrhaging money. Oh, and by the way I guess the salary cap wasn't the panacea after all for saving teams, huh Gary?
4) As for Winnipeg, there was a reason they (like Atlanta) lost a team before, economics. They have a relatively small population with a very small (for NHL standards) arena to boot. There is no doubt in our estimation that they will pack the building the first season or two, despite having one of the highest ticket prices. However, once the bloom is off the rose, and the team isn't playoff bound for 3-4 years they will be no better off than they were in Atlanta. Worse yet, if the Canadian dollar should once again falter like it did in the mid 90's (or even sightly decline 10%) it could be a catastrophic turn of events for the smaller Canadian franchises and the new Winnipeg team would be most vulnerable.
5) A note to our Canadian readers. I know from talking with you folks over the years that you feel Gary Bettman hates Canada. Well, despite sharing your dislike for the commissioner, we disagree. Bettman could care less one way or another anymore where a franchise is located. Now that he has his 10 year TV deal he is no longer looking to make an imprint on the southern U.S, but looking to maximise league profits. With that in mind we hear he wasn't enamored with this deal(as he also knows the Winnipeg realities) but also knew at least in the short term it will be a little boost to the league bottom line AND more importantly takes pressure off the league owned Phoenix Coyotes to move as they have lost a possible destination (Cue the Quebec rumours please!)
6) Another dumb move is keeping the team in the SE division. Are you kidding me?? Its a bloody 3,000 miles from Florida to Manitoba!! Not exactly neighbors. The division was already strained to create real rivalries as it stretches almost 800 miles as it was, now it absurd. The rational thing to do was to move the Blue jackets or Predators into the division from the Central and replace them with Winnipeg. The SE division would still suck ass, and not have any real rivalries, but at least they'd have less travel. Lets hope they rectify this next year when and if the Coyotes also are moved to a new(or old?) city. By the way, where has Jim Balsille been in all this? Our spies tell us he has been more quietly been working the proper/back channels to get a team in southern/central Ontario. Keep an eye on that folks!
As always, keep it here fr all the latest!