Mayor David Miller May Want Three NHL Teams in Greater Toronto Area

Martin AverySenior Writer IMay 11, 2009

TORONTO - APRIL 11:  Boyd Devereaux #22 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his 3rd goal of the game with his teammatesin a game against the Ottawa Senators on April 11, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Leafs defeated the Senators on the strength of a 3 goal performance by Boyd Devereaux #22. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Toronto mayor David Miller strongly supports the plans to bring NHL franchises to the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, Ontario. That could mean three NHL teams in Southern Ontario with two new ones to compete with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On The FAN 590 radio, Miller said, "As a Canadian, I think it's time we stepped up and brought another NHL franchise to the GTA and created a great rivalry between hockey teams in Toronto and Hamilton."

He compared Toronto to New York City, as the New York area has three teams: the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and New Jersey Devils.

"Southern Ontario is the hockey hotbed of the whole world," he said.

There are different groups determined to get NHL franchises for North Toronto, specifically Vaughan, and for Hamilton.

The population of Toronto is around two million, the GTA has four million, and the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including all the urban and suburban sprawl from Oshawa through Pickering and Toronto to Burlington, Oakville, and Hamilton, has over six million.

Twenty percent of NHL players come from the Ontario Hockey League and Ontario hockey players also take other routes into the NHL. This is where two of the greatest hockey players in history got their start: Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr.

Ontario gives the NHL many of its top 10 draft picks year after year, and hockey players from around the world, including Russia and the USA, move to Ontario to play in the OHL with hopes of getting into the NHL.

The Toronto Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1967, Canada's Centennial year, with a victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The Toronto franchise is the most valuable in hockey.

The Air Canada Centre, home of the Leafs, is always packed, no matter how bad or good the home team is on the ice. However, fans complain about ticket prices at the downtown arena.

Canadians outside Toronto love to hate the biggest city in the country the way hockey fans love to hate Sean Avery. Many Southern Ontario hockey fans drive to Buffalo to see the Sabres instead of going to downtown Toronto.

Southwestern Ontario fans cross the border to see the Detroit Red Wings home games.

In addition to moving NHL teams to North Toronto and Hamilton, there has been lots of talk in recent years about having a franchise in Waterloo, Ontario.

Kitchener-Waterloo, the twin cities, is the home of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL and is also the headquarters of billionaire hockey fan Jim Balsillie's company, RIM, which makes the BlackBerry.

How about four NHL teams for Southern Ontario, with two in Toronto, one in Hamilton, and one in K-W?

And what about Northern Ontario? It's another hockey hotbed that has supplied the NHL with great hockey players for decades.

Could Ontario support he Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Hamilton Steelers, North Toronto Leaf-Mulchers, the K-W Blackberries, and the Northern Ontario Polar Bears?

As they used to say on CBC TV's Canadian Air Farce, "You betcha!"

Would NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman consider the concept? That's a completely different question.