Monday, October 4, 2010

Pourquoi y a-t-il de l'hockey dans les sud encore? or Why is there hockey in the South again?

In the event that anybody ever reads this blog (unlikely), or we have any readers from Canada (highly unlikely), I would like to apologize to them for the sins of the NHL father. On Saturday, October 2nd, over 60,000 fans gathered in some area of Quebec City called the Plains of Abraham to show their support, nay, their demand that local authorities spend nearly $400 million to produce and NHL ready arena with the intention of returning hockey to its rightful home.

I'm sorry. What am I sorry for? Being an American hockey fan, that's what. Somewhere along the lines in the 1990s, the NHL braintrust felt it was a good idea to throw caution to the wind and expand in to the Sun Belt and relocate teams from supportive markets (hockey's version of drill baby, drill).

Teams spouted up in San Jose, Anaheim, Dallas (via relocation), Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Phoenix (also via relocation), and the gravest of errors Raleigh (good night sweet Whalers). The other night I was watching the NHL Network, and there were two giant X's on the Sharks ice. It honestly took a minute for the realization that it was to commemorate the 20th season in Sharks history. After I finished crying over where my life went, I was looking for an excuse to get my point of view out there. Sure, I have a medicore (at best...) blog, and I'm the type of narcissist to think my thoughts on this subject matter...but where was the convenient excuse?

Enter the rally in Quebec City. They lost their team years ago to Denver. It really had to be horrible to watch them raise the Cup years later with the core of their players still intact. Fans in Harford have felt the same horror, and Winnipeg has to feel worse than any of them because nobody in Phoenix seems to a) care about or b) be able to afford supporting the former Jets.

It is my hope and belief that the NHL will eventually come to their senses. The  experiment has gone alright in certain markets, and I'll concede its gone well enough to continue. San Jose has done well. Cities like Tampa, Dallas, Anaheim, and Raleigh (under protest) get a pass from me because they have lifted a Cup. I give this pass to them because at some point I'm sure many felt Pittsburgh wasn't worth having a hockey team, but I know first hand what seeing the Cup raised did for people in my age group and all those after it.

With that being said, that leaves Atlanta, Phoenix, and Florida as teams that probably should start the treck north. Florida could go to Quebec City, Winnipeg obviously has the right of first refusal on Phoenix, and Hamilton can have Atlanta. I think that would be pretty satisfying for everyone involved and while I take no pleasure in taking another city's team away from them, it seems likely that nobody in those areas would notice anyway. Now if we could just find a team for Hartford, and keep Kansas City distracted long enough to get them there....

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