Atlanta Thrashers: Winnipeg and 10 Cities to Which the Franchise Should Relocate
The Phoenix Coyotes are staying in Glendale it turns out, as the Glendale city council voted to keep the team for another year this past Monday.
Now that the Coyotes won’t be moving to Winnipeg (for another year at least), the question is: will another team move to Winnipeg in their place?
Sports Illustrated broke the news today that the mayor of Atlanta has acknowledged the team may be forced to relocate, since as of right now, the city cannot afford to keep the team afloat.
Here are 10 options for which the Thrashers could relocate.
10. Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is hardly known for sporting events, since there are other entertainment options available on a nightly basis.
The sporting events that Las Vegas does support however, are typically boxing events. I suppose hockey can have moments that are similar, though they are becoming fewer and farther between.
Las Vegas has no professional sports teams and it is not very surprising, considering that most Vegas natives, the fanbase a team would hope to build, work nights, the time when most hockey games occur.
If a team was great on the ice, or had some sort of star power, they could potentially attract tourists and the steady stream of revenue they bring.
Las Vegas already hosts an ECHL hockey team, the Las Vegas Wranglers, which has prompted the idea that Vegas could support an NHL franchise as well.
Overall, Vegas seems like it might be a bad idea with too many questions surrounding it. Plus, its nightlife may be too tempting for players, as it could generate some bad publicity for the league or the franchise.
9. Kansas City, Missouri
Once upon a time, it seemed like the Pittsburgh Penguins were headed West of Pittsburgh into Kansas City.
Then, the Sidney Crosby era arrived and relocation was no longer necessary.
Supposedly though, Kansas City is in the past and not in the running for future relocations. Yet, it still manages to continually come up in conversations about cities that could support an NHL franchise.
The Kansas City metropolitan area is populated by over two million people. It seems like it could potentially support another professional sports franchise, if there was enough interest in the team at least.
8. Hartford, Connecticut
In 1997, the Hartford Whalers moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes.
Hartford has kept their memory alive through the Hartford Whale, formerly the Hartford Wolf Pack, who changed their name to maintain the Whalers' legacy.
Hartford might embrace an NHL franchise returning to the city.
After all, there are no other professional sports team to compete with, unless one counts UConn athletics, which probably gets more support than a lot of professional teams do in other markets.
Harold Baldwin, the original Whalers' owner, who brought the team to Hartford, wants to bring the NHL back to the city.
Commissioner Gary Bettman allegedly is against a franchise returning to Hartford though, making it highly unlikely for the time being.
7. Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia is not too far from Vancouver, where the Canucks play.
However, the Greater Victoria metropolitan area of 330,088, not to mention areas outside of the city, could be enough to support another NHL franchise.
It may not seem like a lot, but this is Canada, where virtually everyone loves and lives for hockey.
Plus, the former Victoria Cougars hockey team was the last non-NHL hockey team to hoist the Stanley Cup. History like that could be cool for an NHL franchise in the city, especially if they ever won a Cup.
6. Portland, Oregon
There seems to be quite the Internet support intent on bringing an NHL franchise to Seattle, Washington. Commissioner Gary Bettman disagrees, even saying "The NHL will never come to Seattle."
Well how about Portland, Oregon as an alternative?
Portland began with just the Portland Trailblazers NBA franchise and in 2009 added the Portland Timbers MLS franchise. There has been considerable support for the Timbers, despite the overwhelming lack of support for most MLS franchises in the U.S.
The supportive Portland inhabitants might be more than happy to support an NHL franchise as well. A team could play in Rose Garden Arena, home to the Trailblazers and the WHL's Portland Winterhawks.
As a hockey arena, it seats 18,280, which is on the smaller side, but it could be the perfect size to test the waters of how full it can get for hockey games.
5. Toronto, Ontario
The University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre, School of Public Policy Research's study on expanding the NHL to include more Canadian franchises, claims that Toronto could support another NHL franchise.
That seems like a rational argument, however I can think of two major flaws: (1) where would this second franchise play? (2) which Maple Leafs' fans will be convinced to abandon their team and support the new one?
The Maple Leafs may have been through some rough seasons in the past few years, but they do have very loyal fans.
4. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Despite overwhelming support for the sport of hockey in every Canadian province, there are NHL franchises in only four of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories.
It only seems fair that eventually every Canadian province gets an NHL franchise.
SK natives have been very supportive of their CFL team, the Regina Roughriders, and could surely support an NHL team.
Saskatoon seems like the logical location for a franchise, with the city holding about one-fifth of the province's total population.
3. Hamilton, Ontario
Rather than bring another NHL franchise to the city of Toronto, another option would be to bring an NHL franchise to Hamilton, Ontario.
There is a valid argument to be made that Ontario deserves a third team as well.
With the almost 700,000 inhabitants of the metro area, there could be generous support of a Hamilton franchise.
2. Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec City has wanted another NHL franchise probably since their original franchise, the Quebec Nordiques, left for Colorado.
There is plenty of support for another NHL team in the second-most populated city in Quebec.
Quebec City seems to be drawing closer to gaining another NHL team, as it was announced Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Lightning will play the Montreal Canadiens in an exhibition game in Quebec City next season.
It will be the perfect time to prove the high demand for professional hockey in Quebec City.
1. Winnipeg, Manitoba
An NHL team moving back to Winnipeg seems imminent. If it won't be the Phoenix Coyotes returning to their original home, it should be the Atlanta Thrashers.
Canada most certainly deserves to be the relocation spot and what better city than Winnipeg.
The entire city seems committed to the campaign to bring NHL hockey back to Winnipeg. It's only a matter of time before it actually happens.