Well isn’t this a familiar place we have arrived at once again. Jim Balsille has put forth a conditional offer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes. The condition (I am sure Mr. Bettman is so pleased by this) is that he will be allow to move the franchise to an undisclosed city in south western Ontario.
This is a place that Balsille rightfully describes as an un-served hockey market. In a Kitchener-Waterloo based paper it is also stated that the Balsille camp is to meet with city officials regarding an undisclosed topic next week.
Something has finally got to give at the NHL head office. When teams in non-traditional hockey markets are going bankrupt it is time to give up the ghost and allow them to move to a more likely profitable situation.
I as much as anyone want Hockey to be widely accepted and loved in the USA, but unfortunately in some places it just will not work. In a perfect world NHL franchises would be allowed to move to markets which are chosen based on their likelihood of a fan base and profitability. These markets should not be chosen based on the fact that they could get the NHL a national television deal.
Having said all this I do believe in expanding into non-traditional markets, as some places will work. But you have to be very careful and not drop too many teams in those types of markets. The league needs a solid base from which to launch and promote teams in non-traditional markets. Right now with six teams rumoured to be in non-profitable situations, and many more shaky franchises the NHL does not have that base.
In a perfect world the league would come to their senses and allow a man with money and smarts to run a franchise in the most likely to be profitable place.