With the “Sunshine” franchises namely The Tampa Bay lightning, Florida Panthers, and the Phoenix Coyotes struggling financially, it seems more and more likely that one or more of these franchises relocating to a hockey home in Canada.
Which cities could be home to these franchises? The following is a list of three cities that would be ready and more than willing to welcome one of these franchises. The only problem is getting Gary Bettman to allow one or more of these hurting franchises to come to Canada.
Hamilton, Ontario – More than a half million people call the Hamilton area home. Jim Balsillie tried to purchase the Nashville Predators and move them to Hamilton a couple years ago; however Hamilton is a big hockey market.
Although Hamilton is close in proximity to Toronto, Hamilton could support an NHL franchise. It is definitely not going to hurt the Maple Leafs Empire as there are legions of Maple Leafs fans all over the world. A bright point of Hamilton is that people would buy an NHL ticket in Hamilton.
Have you ever tried to buy Leafs or Sens tickets? It’s pretty much a no brainer that the tickets would sell not only to Hamilton fans but Leafs and Sens fans. Also, Hamilton has an arena that with a little retro fitting could be the home of a Hamilton based franchise in Copps Coliseum that can hold 17,000 plus! Hamilton is also home of the American Hockey League Bulldogs, who play in the Coliseum.
Winnipeg, Manitoba – Is it time that the Jets come home? Yes, and the MTC Centre is waiting for them. Winnipeg was the home of the Winnipeg Jets until they were relocated south of the border to Phoenix, AZ in 1996.
Winnipeg has a large population with 600,000 plus in the metro area. Winnipeg is a proud hockey town and is home to the American Hockey League’s Moose. This city would love and support an NHL franchise and could use a warm place to go in the winter, which is cold enough to kill penguins.
Like Hamilton, Winnipeg has an existing hockey venue in the MTS centre that can seat 15,000 fans. The city of Winnipeg would welcome the Jets home with open arms.
Moncton, New Brunswick – The Hub City of the Maritimes. Moncton seems like an odd choice, 'til you think about how many large maritime cities are only a stones through away.
The Greater Moncton Area has a booming population at 125,000 people in the GMA; however, if you factor in the close by cities of Saint John, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Summerside, and Halifax you’re looking at more than a half million people.
The city of Moncton loves its events have hosted the bands like The Rolling Stone and the Eagles with more than 55,000 people attending each show from all over the Maritimes.
Moncton does have a hockey venue which the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec major Junior Hockey League and the summer training home of the NHL’s New York Islanders in the Moncton Coliseum. However the aging Coliseum will only house 6,500 fans.
A city like Moncton, with the promise of an NHL franchise, I believe, would quickly produce the capital needed to build a new arena most likely with the huge corporate backing of the Irving family of the Irving Oil Empire who already own the Wildcats. The friendly Maritimers would do Canada proud by showing a NHL franchise some East Coast hospitality.