Toronto: The Next City for 2 NHL Teams to Call Home?

Russ GodekContributor IIIMay 15, 2011

As the playoffs inch close and closer to their finale and the presentation of the Stanley Cup, there is much to talk about in one city whose season ended back in early April.

The Atlanta Thrashers are struggling and have been for a few years. Earlier this year in January, the Thrashers ownership group, the Atlanta Spirit, announced that it had lost more than $130 million in the last six years.

Additionally, they also said that another $50 million was lost in the team's value.

This financial burden is due to many things: lack of attendance, legal troubles, ownership issues, etc.

The Spirit ownership group consists of seven members that own the Thrashers, the Hawks and the operating rights to the Phillips Arena, where both teams play. The group contends that a large portion of their losses is due to a former co-owner and law firm and the ongoing legal battle that cost them greatly.

With co-owner Bruce Levenson saying on Thursday that they are no closer to selling the team than they were a month ago, it appears that a move is becoming more and more likely.

While Winnipeg seems to be the front runner for the Thrashers to be relocated to (and most likely will go to), there are other options out there. One interesting option is for a second team to be put into Toronto.

In a piece done by a while back called "Why not Canada?", they took a look at four potential Canadian cities, grading each of them on how well a team could fit in to each city.

On that list was Toronto. Could Toronto realistically hold two NHL teams?

Toronto is already home to a tradition-rich franchise, the Maple Leafs. The Leafs are the NHL's richest team, with a revenue of $160 million this year.

Additionally, their fans are extremely dedicated and willing to pay a high price for a ticket to see a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2004.

With a market size of 5.7 million people, the city accounts for 50 percent of the Ontario economy and 15 percent of all of Canada.

There is no doubt that it has the size, it has the economy and it has the rabid fanbase to support another team. There are a few things that may make it a shaky proposition, however.

First, would the Maple Leafs be okay with this? While the NHL has final say in the matter, the Leafs would not be pleased to have a rival team placed in the same city as them, and it could create an ugly situation between them and the league.

Secondly, would the fans, who are loyal to the Leafs, find loyalty in a new team? It's tough to say, but with 800,000 fans (via research in TSN's article) in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) having not been able to attend a Leafs game in the past two years, it would seem that there is a lot of hunger for hockey.

That appetite could be appeased with another NHL team, giving fans who can't get to Leafs games a chance to watch NHL level hockey in person.

Finally, it would without a doubt cost a ton to put a new team in Toronto. First there would most likely need to be a new arena built, which is in itself a huge endeavor.

On top of that there are many other costs associated with starting up an NHL team, especially in a city so large and already occupied by another NHL team.

So could Toronto support another team? Yes. Will it? Possibly, but most likely not right now and not for some time.

What do you think Toronto fans? Would you welcome another team to your great city? For any Leafs fans out there, would you hate a new team impeding on the Leafs territory? Would you root for the new team?

Let yourself be heard in the comments below!