NHL News: 5 Reasons the Atlanta Thrashers' Move to Winnipeg Is Good for the NHL
We are witnessing a new age in the NHL, as we are finally in the position to gain the seventh NHL team in Winnipeg.
It didn't work for Jim Balsillie when he made efforts to bring Pittsburgh, Nashville or Phoenix north of the 49th parallel, but it seems as if we didn't need him whatsoever. All we needed to do was wait for another Atlanta franchise to be a financial nightmare.
Here are five reasons why Atlanta moving to Winnipeg will be good for the NHL in the short-term, as well as the long-term.
Photo courtesy stadiumjourney.com
When you think about it, there isn't much of a difference here. The MTS Centre will become the smallest capacity crowd in the NHL with just over 15,000 people. The average attendance at the Phillips Arena in the 2010-11 season was 13,469.
Ticket sales have gone down in Atlanta in recent years, as the team has continued to struggle to bring in fans for games on a consistent basis.
Ticket prices could be higher in Winnipeg for a little while as the team tries to establish itself as a hockey hotbed. With higher ticket prices, comes higher revenue.
A sign trying to save the Thrashers, in my opinion, too little, too late.
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Canadians know that they need to support their teams in order to survive. If Winnipeg goes under again, Canada may have to wait another 20 years before the NHL decides to give Quebec City or even Hamilton.
Four out of the six Canadian teams are ranked in the top 10 in attendance on a yearly basis, and it is no coincidence. Despite Gary Bettman's thoughts on the subject, hockey is Canada's game.
In my opinion, it is what helped establish the new NHL to everyone.
There is a big portion of the Canadian population that craves NHL hockey. Western Ontario, Manitoba and even parts of Saskatchewan are a long ways away from a Canadian NHL arena, the closest being in Minnesota.
Vancouver and Minnesota have been fierce rivals since the Wild came into the NHL in 2000.
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With a new location will come new rivalries.
Winnipeg will more likely be re-assigned to the Western Conference's Northwest Division. Minnesota could be moved to the Central Division and Detroit moved over to the Eastern Conference but I am not going to talk about the Red Wings right now.
The Northwest is known for being very competitive (except in the last couple of years where Vancouver has dominated) and that competitive spirit will bring fan fare to Winnipeg. Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado and even Minnesota can become fierce rivals at the blink of an eye.
Putting an Issue to Bed
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We all remember the Jim Balsillie vs. Gary Bettman feud over moving the Phoenix Coyotes.
Moving the team to Winnipeg can not only help the NHL, but Bettman's image as well. Everyone has labelled him as anti-Canadian for stopping any hopes of Balsille owning and relocating an NHL franchise.
With this act, Bettman can clean up and silence at least some haters, allowing him to focus on other things.
Of course, this will open up more doors for Balsillie and perhaps make things seem a little more personal, but at this point, the main focus is creating a viable, successful NHL franchise.
Bettman is a smart man so passing up an opportunity like this would not only be a terrible decision for his image, but it may get him a few phone calls from the NHL's Board of Governors.
Attracting Big Name Players
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Kovalchuk, Heatley, Hossa and Savard have something in common. They left Atlanta for other franchises and why?
The answer is simple. They do not want to play in a city that doesn't notice their talent and be overlooked for players that are in the bigger NHL markets like Toronto, Ottawa, Boston, Montreal or Chicago.
With a new and exciting location comes the chance to land valuable talent. The Thrashers have made the playoffs only once in their existence and they got swept out of the first round. If they hope to make it back, they need the talent to do so. If any place can create a hotbed, it is Winnipeg.
You never know. With the new location, you may see some of those names again and when you can establish a great NHL team, you will get the fan support in Canada, unlike a certain city in Arizona.
It also goes with the Canadian economy. The tourists will be back for games, spending money on hotels, restaurants, etc. so a move to Winnipeg will not only be good for the NHL, it will be good for the franchise and everybody involved.