The newly revived Winnipeg Jets salute their fans this past season.
Canada collectively celebrated after the NHL came back to Winnipeg in 2011. It was a moment when every Canadian hockey fan could band together and rejoice that we got one back.
However, it is only one season later and we have no teams on the ice at all. A second lockout in less than a decade has jaded even the most dedicated of hockey fans. However, even though it seems that another season will be completely lost, Canadian fans should be excited for the future of hockey in their country.
After the infamous Wayne Gretzky trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles and a plummeting Canadian dollar, both the Winnipeg Jets and the Quebec Nordiques relocated to America in the '90s. Canadian hockey took a hit the likes of which it had never seen.
This created the emergence of US hockey. With more teams and more revenue than ever expected coming from America, the NHL saw it fit to put hockey rinks everywhere they possibly could. This American expansion included Atlanta and Phoenix.
The Atlanta Thrashers would toil in complete mediocrity from 2000 to 2011 when the team moved to Winnipeg, bringing the long dead, but not forgotten, Jets back to all of Canada.
The Phoenix Coyotes have been a better team than the Thrashers ever were. Over the last several seasons Phoenix has been a competitive and fun-to-watch team on the ice. During that same time period, the team went bankrupt. After an attempt by RIM CEO Jim Balsillie to purchase the team and move it to Hamilton, Ontario, the NHL finally bought the team for 140 million dollars.
Since the NHL purchase of the Coyotes, the on-ice product has become much better, but the financial situation no better. Last season, Phoenix was barely staying afloat in the league and had a large lawsuit surrounding the team.
This is all during a time when the American economy is just recovering from the huge downward spiral early in the decade while the worth of the Canadian dollar is rising. If you look at the situation now, it is the exact opposite of what was happening in North America during the '90s.
Now is the time for Canada to regain another franchise in the NHL. The Phoenix Coyotes have become an increasing burden on the NHL; coupled with the lack of revenue the team will make due to the lockout, it creates a situation that is ideal for relocation. The best place to relocate for the Coyotes is a place where they will always receive crowds and where the team can afford to operate.
There is no better place to have a hockey team right now than Canada.
Sooner rather than later, the NHL will be forced to sell the Phoenix Coyotes, and I know that there will be several aggressive buyers interested in moving the team to either Hamilton, Ontario or reviving the Nordiques.
Though the lockout seems ridiculous, it is time for Canadian fans look on the bright side. Soon we will have another watershed moment, when we can all join hands and welcome back our eighth NHL franchise.