NHL Relocation: Upon Further Review Mr. Bettman Is Right

Dany LemieuxContributor IJune 3, 2009

MONTREAL - JANUARY 25:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman looks on from the stands during the 2009 NHL All-Star game at the Bell Centre on January 25, 2009 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Being from Chicoutimi I saw first hand the devastation that happened to the Quebec Nordiques fans when there team moved to Denver in Colorado.

They were disappointed, sad, angry and puzzled as to why it happened.

The same thing happened a year later in Winnipeg where the Jets moved to Phoenix.

Everyone saw a traitor and a criminal in the person of Gary Bettman because he supposedly did not want to keep the teams in there current area.

Well the answers that a  lot of people were looking for were made founded last night during Hockey Night In Canada's segment called the Hotstove where Gary Bettman was being interviewed by host  Ron Mclean.

You can see the whole thing by going to the following link and choosing the June 2 edition of the Hotstove:


Gary Bettman made a few things real clear regarding the Winnipeg and Quebec situations:

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Nobody wanted to buy these two franchises and keep them where they were and there were no indication of new facility or new sources of revenue to sustain these teams in there current market.

Ron Mclean tried to pick on Bettman by saying that over $20 billion had been spent in the United States on building new arenas and stadium for there pro teams.

To which Bettman replied that it is well known that the Canadian government is known for not investing into infrastructures and facilities.

Now let's take a step back in time and look at the Winnipeg and Quebec situation, not a single person or group offered to buy those franchises and become the White Knight of those franchises.

Do you want to know why?

It is very simple because you would have bought a team that needed a new arena that YOU would have to pay for on top of buying the team because the government was not going to spend a dime for that and certainly was'nt about to help you at all.

Case in point, the Montreal Bell Centre was built by the Molson family who were the owners of the Montreal Canadiens had to pay for the entire cost of building there new rink.

The City of Montreal was so happy that they did not need to spend a dime on this state of the art building that the taxes on the rink were a ridiculously small fee of $22 million!

It is one of the reasons why the Molson family sold the team.

The Montreal Expos moved because of the same reason, no help from our governments to help built something that would be there for years.

People will say the Expos did not get good crowds.

That sounds a lot like what is going on with the Phoenix Coyotes right now because the team does not get big crowds, the reason why the Montreal Expos were drawing small crowds is a very simple one: They were not winning!

The Montreal Canadiens were winning at the time and hockey is a religion in Montreal and you could sell season tickets for almost any price you want because people are like hookers hooked on crack.

Winning, it's so addictive that when a team starts to win and the crowds get bigger there is a lot of people who jump in the bandwagon.

So is winning the solution to the Coyotes financial woes?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Everyone remembers the California Golden Seals that were an absolute disaster of an experience by the NHL.

Every single media representative were all saying that the California experience in the NHL was over and was a monumental disaster.

The Golden Seals were absolutely horrible and could not win a game even if the other team would have been a bunch of 10 year old kids!

Many years after the Golden Seals were hunt down and put to rest came a new team call the San Jose Sharks.

The team started like all the new expansion teams, very slowly.

But now is there a more successful team than the San Jose Sharks in term of finance?

I bet you that if the Phoenix Coyotes remain in Phoenix and they make the playoff two or three years in a row they will become a success.

Don't forget one of the toughest things the Coyotes have to fight against: other pro teams and college sports.

They have to compete for people's entertainment money with the Suns, Diamondbacks, Cardinals and all the wonderful college sports team in the area.

No wonder they can't attract people with a team that loses and has to compete with all those options!

What kind of competition did the Nordiques or Jets had?

None whatsoever.

So you live in Winnipeg or Quebec City and you want an NHL team back in your city?

Get your governments to build you a decent rink and find someone who will own the team and you better make sure that these people have a lot of money because the Montreal Canadiens generated $248 million last year and made $22 million in profits.

Yes you read that right, it cost $226 million to run that team.

Can your city handle it?

I highly doubt these two city can do it.

The Phoenix situation was also addressed by Mclean and Bettman.

Upon further review on this interview that a lot of people have told me that Bettman was in panic mode!

I have discovered that these people were wrong and that Bettman looked like a man in control and always had a very good answer to Mclean's questions.

As much as I supported Jim Balsillie's effort to get a seventh team into Canada I have to agree with Bettman's point of view.

Now don't tell me that hockey belongs in Canada and all that emotional stuff.

Think with your head instead, be logical.

If you buy a McDonald's franchise and you are giving an area or what we call a zone and you realise that your restaurant is not doing good in your area, can you move it at will?

Can you just call the McDonald's head office and tell them that you are moving to a location within the zone of two other successful restaurant and there is nothing they can do about it?

Answer is obviously no.

So why would it be different with an NHL franchise?

I do not see any reasons why logically it would be different.

So if someone is willing to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and his willing to lose money then so be it.

The day the NHL won't be able to find someone to buy and keep the team in Phoenix then and only then will it be possible to move that team.

As much as I would love to see Jim Balsillie become the owner of an NHL franchise in Southern Ontario I simply cannot go against league rules and the right of that league to decide where there franchises can go.

I was a supporter of make it seven, but upon further review Mr. Bettman is right.

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