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Quebec and Winnipeg couldn’t support a team when they had one. They are small market areas that give nothing back to the NHL. The lost ticket sales for a franchise amount to less then 20Mil a season. The canadian market sells no extra jerseys, provides no additional TV revenue. Nothing, the only thing a Canadian market brings is increased ticket sales. The loss of ticket sales are more then made up for in the additional revenue gained from exposure in southern markets through Television and Memorabilia sales. Do you think that right now in Quebec, the 15000 who could be counted on to buy tickets AREN’T buying jerseys and watching HNIC? Of course they are, they all support the Habs and Leafs. They don’t bring any extra revenue to the league, and they would hurt revenue for those two teams if they had to compete with the Nordiques Reborn. Not to mention the total lack of corporate support. Quick what’s the biggest industry in Winnipeg that you can sell a dozen season boxes to?
You couldn’t be more wrong. The Toronto Maple Leafs makes more money off of merchandise than ANY other team in the NHL. Montreal is in the top 3. When it was around Winnipeg sold out every single home game they played and Nordiques merchandise is still sold in Quebec. I accidentally put my post responding to this pod in number 13 but here is what I said. You should read it to get some actual information:
Thank you Puck Nuts for giving such a strong endorsement to have a team back in Quebec. Canadians have been clamoring for this for years but to hear a group of Americans say this is where hockey belongs was actually very touching, especially since I live in the province.
The Nordiques and Jets were both moved out of Canada for similar reasons. Primarily it had to do with how weak the Canadian dollar was in the mid-90′s. While both teams had massive support and great attendance (the Jets sold out every home game they played and you can still buy Nordiques merchandise and jerseys in Quebec) it still wasn’t enough because of their smaller markets according to the NHL. Of course this has turned out to be a big mistake in hindsight as the Phoenix Coyotes have never made a dime in their entire existence in Arizona.
For clarification the Avalanche winning the cup in their first year had nothing to do with Bettman and had everything to do with then coach of the Canadiens, Mario Tremblay. Tremblay and Patrick Roy had never had a good relationship and when he was brought in as head coach that season Roy would not co-operate. This lead to the famous last game in Montreal where Tremblay kept a very cold Roy in net letting in 9 goals on 26 shots just to humiliate him. Roy demanded to be traded that day and the Avalanche happily picked him up. That’s how they won the Stanley Cup that year. Not to discredited the Avalanche of course but the Nordiques certainly would have had a much better chance at a cup in Quebec had Roy been playing for them and not the Habs (of course being a Habs fan I’m glad he didn’t).
As for why Bettman doesn’t want teams to return to Canada many believe it’s because he wants an all American league. He thinks the National in NHL means America and not Canada where the league started. Although in fairness it wasn’t Bettman who started this mentality but John Ziegler who was president of the NHL (before there was a commissioner) in 1989 when they moved the head offices from Montreal to New York.
The other theory is of course Bettman doesn’t want to be proven wrong. This doesn’t explain though why he fought so hard for the Coyotes not to be moved to Hamilton, Ontario where the NHL’s own studies believed the team would become the fifth highest earning team in the entire league. Instead of the lowest earning team in the league that it is now.
Then there’s the idea that Bettman’s still chasing the dream of the NHL presidents of the 60′s and 70′s who were chasing a national distribution television deal in the US. In order to achieve that you obviously need a very strong American presence. Unfortunately for a lot of American teams in the NHL though their presence isn’t strong.
Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t meant to come off as anti-American but this is just my own frustrations with Bettman and the league for their continuous slights against the country that started the NHL in the first place.
Long live the Puck Nuts!!! Not even a Devils fan but this is still the best Hockey podcast I’ve heard!!!
The Toronto Maple Leafs makes more money off of merchandise than ANY other team in the NHL. Montreal is in the top 3. When it was around Winnipeg sold out every single home game they played and Nordiques merchandise is still sold in Quebec.
That’s my point sir, the fans in Winnipeg and Quebec already watch the games and buy tickets and buy merchandise. Moving a team up there provides no additional league revenue beyond additional ticket sales, they are ALREADY buying jerseys and memoribilia,
They don’t add NEW buyers of jerseys, they don’t add NEW TV ratings,
An empty barn that only sits 13000 and a full one in Quebec that seats 18000 is a pittance over the 41 game home season compared to a lucrative TV contract in a market that isn’t otherwise served.
The die hard fans in Canada guarantee they won’t get a team relocated because the league already get’s there money through their support of other canadian franchises. The upcoming TV deal is far and away the biggest point of contention among the board of governors, and that TV deal gets less lucrative with every American market they can’t service.
I don’t buy all the Bettman as grand vizier hatching plots and refusing to be proven wrong, he’s an astute manager and the Owners love him because he brings in revenue. The possible purchase of the TV rights by ESPN (Especially considering the possible NFL lockout next season) is the driving force behind the refusal to relocate to Canada.
I love hockey, and I love canada and their spirit of the game, but if you want another team in Quebec or Winnipeg or Hamilton, it will have to come through expansion, it simply isn’t in the leagues best interests to do it through relocation.
Rivalry always produces new customers as does new generations. I can guarantee you there are hockey fans in Quebec who stopped watching the NHL once the Nordiques left and instead went to the Remparts. Same with Winnipeg. Keeping dying teams in the desert to service a TV deal is moot since no one will watch the games. The deal may work out for the first year but after looking at the ratings for teams like Atlanta and Phoenix do you honestly believe ESPN will want to continue that contract when they can get more ratings from something like a retrospective on baseball?
Not every hockey fan in Canada watches an NHL team because in some markets it’s too exclusive. In Toronto and Montreal especially you can not get a ticket to most games without spending ridiculous amounts of money on scalper prices. Adding nearby teams will not hurt those ticket sales at all. They will add sales to the league by people who can’t go to the ACC or Bell Centre and that is where you will create new fans. Possibly some merchandise sales will move to the new teams but for the most part you’re still going to get new customers. Hell the NHL even believes a second Toronto team would be extremely lucrative by their own studies. The TV deal is a short term goal – establishing teams in markets with fans who will actually support them is a much more enticing in the long term.
And the only owners who like Bettman are the small market American teams (or Pittsburgh and Washington) who need his reassurance that they’ll make any money (which in some cases they still don’t). The Molsons (MTL owners) want a new team in Quebec and the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund (TML owners) have stated they would support a Hamilton team as well.
I’m not saying hockey doesn’t work in America. Far from it. But how many owners have to lose millions in Phoenix before Bettman will allow it to move? Hell even the NHL has lost money owning that team. I can’t imagine many people in the league are happy about that.
I totally see your points, but I think you are vastly underestimating the potential hockey audience in the current markets.
Long island is 30th in the league for Attendance yet nobody would be ignorant enough to claim that isn’t a hockey market. Same for Pittsburgh a few years ago. Atlanta and Phoenix seem like easy targets to pick on because of the woes they are going through right now. But if you look just a few years back you would see that both Washington and Pittsburgh (Arguably two of the best in todays league) were in similar straights. Neither Phoenix or Atlanta has ever had a truly great team and an ownership that was willing to spend on marketing before. With the new ownership in Phoenix that may be changing. So maybe in a few years we will see a packed barn in the Desert. But the idea of relocation just seems short sighted to me. It wasn’t that long ago that Jim Balsillie was trying to convince us all that Pittsburgh had to be relocated to Hamilton, if they league had caved then, we wouldn’t have seen Pittsburgh build a brand new stadium, a string of sellouts, A HUGE jump in merchandise sales, and back to back trips to the Stanley Cup Finals.
I believe Canada should have two more teams, and they should come through expansion, bring 16 teams per conference.
Contraction and Relocation are shortsighted options for a league that should keep it’s eye on expanding to ever larger fan bases.
I would agree with you if it wasn’t Bettman’s MO. I don’t see why he feels that Phoenix and Atlanta deserve a chance when he wasn’t willing to give one to Canada. That’s the problem. Both Quebec and Winnipeg had a large fan base and instead of waiting only 6 years (when the Canadian dollar reached parity with the US) he’s telling Canadian fans that the 14 years he’s given Phoenix still isn’t enough. That it was right for him not to wait before in known hockey markets but it’s the right thing to do to wait now in markets that traditionally hasn’t supported the sport. It’s hypocritical and a slap in the face to the fans that give the most money to the league.
He’s hoping to build a fanbase that doesn’t seem to be there. The difference with Pittsburgh is at least they already had a fans willing to come back based on their performance in the 90’s (and I’ll be the first to admit while I like Balsillie his tactics with Pittsburgh and Atlanta were underhanded). But there has never been a sign that anyone is interested in going to Phoenix. Atlanta is getting a boost now thanks to players like Byfuglien but you can’t deny Bettman has an American bias.
I too would prefer an expansion but with the league continuously having to lose money with the under supported teams it doesn’t make sense for them to do it. Plus Bettman has hinted that if there were an expansion it’d still be in the US (Indiana, Vegas and Kansas).
My totally unsupported gut instinct is that he is fighting for franchises now because he Didn’t back then. I think he feels he made a mistake and doesn’t want to repeat it. Because the whale and nordiques should never have left. Granted I’m an AVs fan, so i’m kind of glad they did, but really, it’s another case where it should have been expansion not relocation.
As an AVs fan living in Arizona, I will say that there are no less then 4 youth hockey leagues in my city, three hours SOUTH of phoenix, and they weren’t there prior to the Coyotes, in phoenix there are 4 Ice rinks other then the Glendale arena that I know of, and I don’t live there, so there could be more.
There is a movement for youth hockey all over the state, and that’s because of hte presence of hte coyotes, The owners (all of them, not just Bettman) made the play for phoenix because they believe ( And I agree) that all those people who are paying for youth hockey and playing in beer leagues will become Coyotes fans, when the coyotes ice a competitive product.
They sold out last year once the team showed they were going to play well. Then all summer all anyone talked about was relocation, and the fans fled. If they settle, and the team stays where it is or get’s better, it will hit the league average attendance numbers. I live here, and people here talk about the team, they just won’t pay the tickets when they suck, and they won’t buy a jersey for a team that’s talking about moving.
Wait and see what happens now, and let’s start lobbying the league for expansion. Two teams for Canada, and One for Vegas, one for Kansas
I can’t believe Bettman feels he made a mistake and is trying to correct it. If that were the case he’d be trying to make amends with Canadian fans instead of alienating them.
That being said a league expansion would be excellent for two more Canadian teams and two more American. I’m totally with you on this. I just don’t see it happening. Bettman has showed no real interest in expansion especially to Canada.
Also, as a point of interest, hockey analyst Darren Dreger believes that even with this new ownership Phoenix could still be moved in 5 years if the hockey population of Arizona doesn’t pick up it’s support of the team. Fleeing when there’s rumour of the team leaving is the wrong move. If you think something is going to be moved that’s the perfect time to show your support for it. Honestly I think if you really want hockey to pick up in the state moving the team might actually help. Nothing makes people pine for something than having it taken away. Trust me on this one, I’ve seen it first hand.
Listen, if Bettman hated Canada he would have tried to save the Senators or the Oilers. I know Winnipeg is too small for an NHL franchise in the current state of sports today, probably the same with Quebec but I’m not entirely sure on their market size as I am with them. Phoenix, Atlanta, Colombus and the Panthers sucked a hell of a lot more then they were good (Florida’s cup finals year not withstanding) how the hell do you expect them to grow when the fans have nothing to cheer. Look at Nashville, Tampa Bay and Dallas as teams that were good or at least got good for long enough where the fanbase has/had something to root for an their attendance is good or can withstand some lean years and come out good in the end. Like said before the US contract has more growth potential and can help the league as a whole with an evenly spread out audience possible audience to watch those games that isn’t currently watching.
Also Walt why are you ripping the fanbase of the Devils? Its a bad start and typically like most non traditional hockey markets (aka Canada and US original six plus a couple other like Minnesota) the attendance goes up after the New Year after most football has already been played. They will be fine. I can say this as a true Devils fan but it is a team that shouldn’t exist but with the Cups and constant success before this year the fanbase was growing. It was young too. But those kids that were 5 to 10 or so when they won their first Cup are now in their 20’s and getting enough disposable income to go to a few games or get season tickets depending on their job. The kids that were 5-1o in the 80’s are grown up and are now raising kids of their own that will be Devils fans themselves. Its a good mix and growing especially in Newark where they have colleges and mass transit to help. Don’t worry the Devils are fine and healthy.
Also about Phoenix its a crappy location (Glendale is a ways away from Phoenix proper) and its hard to care and spend money on a team if you feel they might just leave in the middle of the night
Hold on a second where are you getting any information that Bettman helped Ottawa? Ottawa is one of four teams to declare bankruptcy under Bettman (the other three are Pittsburgh, LA and Buffalo). After moving the Nordiques and Jets the league did create the Canadian Assistance Program (which helped the Oilers and Canucks) to deal with Canada’s (then) weak dollar in a time when player salaries were getting out of control. But times, and our dollar, has changed. And to my knowledge it was the Canadian government that stepped in to save the Senators.
Again, Winnipeg proved it was a large enough market by selling out every home game they had. It’s also the same size market as Hamilton (around 600k) which, again, the NHL estimated would be the 5th highest earning franchise in the league if Steel Town got it. And Winnipeg didn’t need Stanley Cup finals to get that attendance.
My point is that hockey fans are already here. They don’t need convincing, they don’t need a great team (shit, look at Toronto) and they certainly don’t need gimmicks like cheerleaders (23 out of 24 US teams have cheerleaders in some form although Edmonton will be the first Canadian team to try them out). They’re chasing a “possible audience” opposed to a guaranteed one. One that’s actually begging for a team, instead of one that’s complaining about uncertainty with owners or the drive it takes to get to the arena.
Ok I confused Ottawa and the Canucks. My mistake. But still if we took that attitude with the NHL then we would have never expanded beyond the O6 and some Canadian teams
Ok confusing the Canucks for the Senators is one thing, but now you’re just not making any sense.
The expansion occoured because other leagues were starting to pop up in hockey friendly cities where there was a demand for a major league. This wasn’t like expansion has been in the 90’s where the NHL was testing into new markets, the original expansion (and all expansions up to the early 80’s) was an attempt to ensure they would not be usurped as the top league. A completely different situation and necessary mindset than in the league today.
The two major competitors were the WHL and WHA. In it’s first year of existence the WHA managed to wrangle over 60 NHL players to their league including Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe (which is why they didn’t play for Canada in the ’72 summit – the NHL wouldn’t allow any of their players to play if any WHA players were on the team). In fact Wayne Gretzky was originally drafted by the WHA (Indianapolis Racers although was traded to Edmonton while they were still in the WHA) and not the NHL (due to NHL’s then age restrictions on draft prospects). The NHL expanded to cities such as LA, Philadelphia and Long Island to keep to WHA off it’s potential hockey customers. That’s why the league expanded – competition. Today expanding into non-traditional markets is not an attempt to ward off another league. It’s purely to see if they can squeeze some dollars out of them. Which is not a bad thing, the league is a (not for profit) business after all. The problem is that they are so focused on American expansion that Canadian fans feel left in the lurch which, ironically, was a problem with the original expansion and why the league later added the Vancouver Canucks with the Buffalo Sabers.
The talk of European expansion is a lot more akin to the days of old as the fear is that the KHL will take star players away from the NHL.
come on guys, i think there is a way to get walt back into the swing of things, some puck nuts merch . mark me down for a t shirt and a jersey
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