October 21, 2008
The topic of the morning, based on the e-mails we've received, is this leak to the Globe & Mail about the NHL potentially giving Toronto a second professional team. Or, if you're a Leafs basher, a first.
Putting a second team in Toronto has always been a no-brainer, as long as there is an intrinsic understanding that they will always be the Clippers to the Leafs' Lakers. No matter how good the newbies are, the Leafs will be the darlings of the city as soon as they contend again. It'll take generations for that to change.
Back to the breaking news, from David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail:
"Why shouldn't we put another team in the best and biggest market in the world?" one of several NHL governors who spoke with The Globe anonymously said of the Greater Toronto Area.
According to this governor, one idea floated is for prospective owner Jim Balsillie to be rewarded with an expansion team in Toronto after helping to restore financial ballast to the Nashville Predators.
But there seems to be resistance to an expansion team competing with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the same market. Because expansion would mean the NHL would be "the laughingstock of professional sports." Wow.
From the Globe and Mail:
Two more NHL governors said the league should put a second team in Toronto, although one of them said it should be by relocating an existing franchise rather than expanding.
"I don't think it can be an expansion team," a governor said. "We can't expand because we would be the laughingstock of professional sports. "We've got too many troubled franchises. We've got to look at relocating a couple of them. These franchises were troubled long before the economic downturn and next year is going to be worse on them."
And what about Hamilton, so often mentioned as a future NHL city and nearly the home of the Nashville Predators? For one, it would hurt the Buffalo Sabres. But this argument made us laugh:
"It's a minor-league town," the governor said of Hamilton. "How could we sell a team from Hamilton? Do you think the New York Rangers want to put the Hamilton Steelers on their marquee at Madison Square Garden? Do you think anyone in Manhattan would buy tickets to see them?"
Yeah, because the Ottawa Senators certainly are the darlings of Manhattan, right? (We're not calling Ottawa a minor-league town; this is just about name recognition.)
The argument for a second team in Toronto? Weather Eye's Weather Station 1 makes the case:
Pro sports are packed with teams sharing cities. Chicago has two baseball teams. Los Angeles has two NBA teams, and a whole bunch of baseball teams, and once had two NFL teams, but now has none. New York has three NHL teams if you count New Jersey. It can be done. It can work.
Especially in Toronto. This isn't Portland or even New York. It's a hockey-made city in a hockey-mad country with disposable income to burn. Canada's economy is pretty okay, and Canadians love to spend money on the things they love - beer, pickup trucks and hockey.
Again, this is a no-brainer. But the real issue here is whether it's a decision that should take away a potential NHL team from Kansas City or Las Vegas, or whether -- as we've argued -- it should be part of a three-team move that includes two expansion franchises and one relocation.