Edmonton Oilers: 4 Reasons a Move to Seattle Would Be Terrible for the NHL

Adam Bowen@truknorrisContributor IIIOctober 6, 2012

Edmonton Oilers: 4 Reasons a Move to Seattle Would Be Terrible for the NHL

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    While many consider the recent trip to Seattle by Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz and his close executives a bullying tactic attempting to force the city of Edmonton into concessions regarding funding the proposed new downtown arena, the fact of the matter is that the Oilers are in dire need of a new playing space.

    If the downtown arena proposal does fall through, the possibility of Katz's relocating the Oilers to Seattle to play in its new hockey arena becomes that much closer to reality. 

    Not only would this permanently cripple the city of Edmonton, the effects would be felt across the entire NHL.

    Here are four reasons an Edmonton Oilers move to Seattle would be terrible for the NHL.

Sets a Bad Precedent

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    If NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman were to allow Edmonton Oiler's owner Daryl Katz to relocate the franchise to Seattle, he would have a huge mess on his hands and would set a negative precedent in his league that would ultimately lead to more teams relocating.

    As it stands, the Edmonton Oilers are one of the few teams in the NHL currently making money.

    Forbes magazine ranks the Oilers as the 15th most valuable franchise in the NHL and, while this number may not seem overwhelming, it is hard to overlook. 

    Allowing the team to leave because the owner doesn't get his way would allow others in similar situations to argue that their teams deserve the relocation option as well. 

    Bettman has already stepped in once to try to assist the Edmonton arena situation, proving how important it is to the NHL that the Oilers stay there. 

Geographical Rivalries Affected

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    The Boston Bruins have the New York Rangers, the Detroit Red Wings have Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames have the Edmonton Oilers. 

    Geographical rivalries are an important part to the allure of the National Hockey League and are often the games that provide fans with the most excitement.

    What happens to the Flames if the Oilers leave Edmonton? Who then takes over the distinction of being their No. 1 rivals? 

    Though the rivalry may not be as intense as it was during both franchises' heydays, the fact that the teams are only separated by a three-hour drive creates a natural energy that ultimately equals ticket sales, merchandise sales and higher television ratings for those games.

    Calgary's loss would be the Vancouver Canucks' gain if Edmonton did in fact relocate to Seattle, assuming that the Canucks automatically assumed a rivalry with a new Seattle franchise. 

    Only time would tell if the intensity between the two squads could live up to the hype surrounding the "Battle of Alberta." 

Bad for Business in Canada

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    When the NHL decided that it was time to relocate the Atlanta Thrashers franchise, the majority of potential homes for the team were Canadian cities.

    Hamilton, Quebec City and Winnipeg were thrown around, with the latter eventually winning out as the destination for the Thrashers-turned-Jets. 

    While the NHL is popular in the US, the fact of the matter is that the NHL has to compete for television viewers and ticket purchases with other major sports leagues. Most metropolitan cities in America have at least one professional sporting franchise.

    That just isn't the case in Canada, especially in smaller-market cities like Edmonton, where the Oilers are priority No. 1 in the minds of most sports fans. 

    Canadian hockey fans are rabid for the game and relocating one of the six Canadian teams would alienate a large segment of fans north of the border.

    The NHL has already faced struggling franchises with poor fan support, so removing a team with a solid fanbase wouldn't make any sense from a business perspective. 

Loss of History

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    Love them or hate them, the simple matter of fact is that, at one point in time, the Edmonton Oilers were one of the best franchises in NHL history, with arguably the best player in NHL history on their roster.

    Relocating a franchise with a deep history of success like the Oilers have would tarnish the overall image of the NHL.

    While Wayne Gretzky didn't want to get involved with the whole relocation debate, the simple matter of fact is that he will forever be linked to the Oilers and to the city of Edmonton, and one day it may be this fact alone that saves the team from leaving town. 

    Gretzky played such a huge role in the success of the NHL, both as an Oiler and with the Los Angeles Kings, that the NHL couldn't afford to lose the richness of history and all of the nostalgia surrounding the team.