Should There Be an NHL Team in Winnipeg?

Imtiaz FerdousCorrespondent IIJuly 12, 2010

25 Nov 1992:  Rightwinger Andrei Kovalenko of the Quebec Nordiques moves the puck during a game against the Buffalo Sabres at Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Canada had 8 teams about 14 years ago, however with nobody wanting to be the owners of 2 of the teams the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche and the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix (how'd that work out?)

Now things are different, whenever a Canadian team is up for sale there are many bidders simply because there are so many fans. It's true there are more people in America but the percentage of fans is so much higher in Canada (I actually did a study on this albeit on data a few years old) that really it is a safer bet to bring a team to Canada. With Gary Bettman saying he wants to return hockey to places they abandoned before going to new places such as Hamilton, it seems more likely that hockey will return to Winnipeg or Quebec before anywhere else. 

The thing one must realize about Winnipeg is it is a hockey city, if you want proof look at the fact that they have already built a hockey arena, even before they are guaranteed to get a team. So why did they leave? Well therein hangs a sad tale.

The problem with Winnipeg is they need corporate sponsors to do well, this is what drove them out of town as they had very few corporate sponsors. The reason for this was the economy is like a pendulum, when it does well, all the companies are willing to sponsor you, but once the pendulum swings to recession well then the big companies may but the smaller companies will not. 

As you can tell by this the company would make great profits in a good year but be horrible in a bad year. This is important however, let me illustrate it with an example. Arthur Blank founded a company called The Home Depot Inc. which did very well for the first ten years or so because it was a booming time. However when the pendulum swung and the recession occurred his company didn't do so well so they fired him. In hindsight that was a mistake because you always make less money in bad years.

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So what lesson is there to be learned from this? Well first that they cannot avoid losing money as the Winnipeg market seems like a feast or famine market, so what they must do is save the money they make in good years in case they have losses in their bad years.

Another problem may be, what if the bad years start immediately? Then they did not make spectacular profits they can save to cover their losses in bad years. The solution to this is to have a very wealthy owner, that way he can cover losses knowing there are profits coming in the future.

So where do we find such an owner? After all, the NHL seems to have alienated Jim Balsillie, and he wants a team in Hamilton not Winnipeg. The perfect owner is actually Mark Chipman and his True North Sports and Entertainment Limited. They have billions of dollars and own the arena in Winnipeg called the MTS Centre.

This would be ideal because they don't have to worry about renting an arena, they can just use theirs. They also would not mind because there is no better use of any amount of space in Canada than selling hockey. You can make a tonne of money from this and Mark Chipman definitely understands this. 

The best thing to do right now is to relocate the Phoenix Coyotes to Winnipeg with True North Sports and Entertainment Limited as the owners. The Thrashers are not going anywhere as their owners also own the Atlanta Hawks and the arena (called Philips Arena) and have made numerous statements that they intend to keep them there. Regardless, the Coyotes remain the best bet to be relocated.

In conclusion, the Coyotes should be relocated to Winnipeg (or as I like to say "Joke's over give Winnipeg their team back.") with a deep pocketed owner, preferably True North Sports and Entertainment Limited. This will give the NHL financial clout thus making the league more powerful, and more importantly more Canadian.