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Buffalo Sabres Safe for Now

Marc-Andrew BezbatchenkoContributor IMay 20, 2009

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 15:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media during game one of the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at Mellon Arena on April 15, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

When the Buffalo Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's safe to say that about one-fourth of the building is filled with screaming (mostly drunk) Leaf fans, most, if not all, of which make the 100-mile trip to Buffalo.

Now, with one of the greatest rivalries in hockey, imagine if a team moved right in between them. Literally.

Co-CEO at Research in Motion, the developer for the well known BlackBerry wireless solution, Jim Balsillie now is trying to move the Phoenix Coyotes into southern Ontario, possibly Hamilton.

The problem with this is that the NHL has legal rights on the team, and argue that even if Balsillie was to purchase the team from Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes, the NHL would still have the ability to have the full say in where they are located.

Should the Coyotes be moved to Hamilton, the only building that would satisfy  NHL regulations would be Copps Coliseum, where the current AHL farm team to Montreal, the Hamilton Bulldogs, play. The arena is almost twenty-five years old, and would need some serious upgrades if it wanted to satisfy an NHL crowd and players.

Also, how would Montreal feel if the bulldogs shared a home with the Hamilton (insert team name here). While on that topic, what would the new team be called anyway? The Hamilton AutoBots, BlackBerries, or even better, the Ball sillies. Get it? Obviously I'm just poking fun at the idea, but should a team come to Hamilton, if you really think about it, no actual team names make sense for that area.

Besides, the average yearly income for the city of Hamilton is steady, around $35,000. That surely wouldn't be enough to support an NHL-caliber team. Especially with where the economy is right now. 

Another thing, isn't Hamilton a bit close to Buffalo and Toronto to build a franchise there? If you look at a map, Buffalo to Hamilton is about 70 miles, and Toronto to Hamilton is only 40 miles away from each other. In my opinion, the three cities are way too close. 

A more realistic location would be in London. The cities have similar populations, and it is in the middle of lower Ontario.

Should the team move to Hamilton, how many Sabres fans would we lose? In reality, close to none, as very few die hard Sabers fans make the 45-minute drive to the HSBC Arena every game. But should a team move there, the danger of losing our team to a bigger market team if Balsillie lets his franchise grow, we could see some changes over a longer period of time.


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