Last year, one of the most passionate debates between American and Canadian hockey fans was sparked. It was when Jim Balsillie had tried to take over the struggling Phoenix Coyotes franchise, and move the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario, with his aggressive “Make It Seven” campaign.
Now, at this point, Commissioner Gary Bettman wanted nothing to do with Balsillie taking over his Coyotes franchise that had been losing money since the beginning of time. This angered Canadian hockey fans even more, since it was Bettman who happily moved the Winnipeg Jets to Arizona and the Quebec Nordiques to Colorado. Now, both the Avalanche and the Coyotes are struggling to bring in fans.
Many of us Canadians are wondering what gives. If it is the stability of Winnipeg that Bettman is worried about, then that is beyond outrageous.
The Coyotes are currently drawing an average attendance of 11,860, which is 20% less than the 2008-2009 season, AND almost 4,500 less than the capacity of the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, before renovations. It is almost certain that Winnipeg, who is dying for NHL hockey, will sell out the majority—if not all—of their games if they get an NHL team. They may also renovate the MTS Centre, to add more standing room and seating.
Also, when the Coyotes had their first game in September of 1996, the Canadian Dollar was $0.74 US. Just a couple of hours ago, the dollar’s rate here in Canada was $0.99 US. The North American dollars are on par with each other. It’s not like Bettman wouldn’t generate any revenue here. Our dollar is strong.
Now, since the off-season is approaching again, talks about the Coyotes moving have come up again. Every single rumor that has been circulated through the press up to now has been shot down at lightning speed by Bettman and his minions with some pre-written speech that basically is saying “We have no idea what you are talking about. Go Yotes Go.”
I think that it is pretty clear that cities like Winnipeg, Hamilton, Quebec, Hartford or even Seattle could support NHL teams better than Glendale, Atlanta or Denver are currently holding them up.
With decisions like this going on, I can’t help but wonder how much longer Bettman will be around. If it was up to me, or the majority of the people, he would’ve been gone during the lockout.