Arena NHL Expansion (and Deflation)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Arena' started by Zaz, May 24, 2009.

  1. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
  2. Shrapnel Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2005
    star 2
    The press didn't make it such a big issue. Like the Koivu case nowadays: they don't expect him to be fluent, but they would like it if he could say Bonjour only. Even in Québec City, the press who was covering hockey was bilingual. I mentionned Sakic, but also players like Dale Hunter, Randy Moller, Clint Malarchuk, Robbie Ftorek, enjoiyed their stay there even if they couldn't speak French. In the early 90's, USA Today reportedthat players didn't like it because there was no English schools or TV channels in Québec City, which is untrue. At that time, plyers avoided it more because the team was really bad.
  3. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    It's a gorgeous city, but then I like history.
  4. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    The NHL is on a roll, so in the next year, 1996/7, the Jets are moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix and renamed the Coyotes.

    From Wiki: "The Jets were very competitive for most of the 1980s and early 1990s, and had a very loyal following. However, regular-season success did not transfer over into the playoffs. This was because Winnipeg played in the same division as the Oilers and Calgary Flames ? by some accounts, the two best teams in the league during the second half of the 1980s. Because of the way the playoffs were structured at the time, the Jets were all but assured of having to beat either the Oilers or the Flames (or both) to get to the Campbell Conference Finals. For example, in 1984?85, they finished with the fourth-best record in the entire league, with 96 points ? both their best finishes as an NHL team. While they managed to dispatch the Flames in five games in the Division Semifinals, they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Oilers in the Division Finals. In fact, Winnipeg and Edmonton played each other in the playoffs six times between 1983 and 1990. The Oilers not only won every series, but held the Jets to only four total victories. Five of those times (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990), the Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup. 1987 was the last time that the Jets won a playoff series (defeating Calgary in the Division Semifinals before losing to Edmonton in the Division Finals).

    As the NHL expanded in the United States, operating costs and salaries grew rapidly; this development hit the league's Canadian teams particularly hard. As Winnipeg was the league's fourth-smallest market (eventually becoming the third-smallest market after the Québec Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995), the Jets were unable to retain their best players. Various schemes were devised to save the team through a tremendous grassroots effort and government funds, but in the end the efforts were not enough. The Winnipeg Jets played their last-ever game on April 28, 1996, a home playoff loss to the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 4?1. Norm Maciver scored the last goal in Jets history."

    The obvious answer here would be to transfer Winnipeg to an Eastern grouping, but no such luck.

    "During a press conference Gary Bettman stated that the idea of Winnipeg having an NHL team sounds intriguing. He also stated that another team in Winnipeg could happen one day.

    ? When we had the chance to go back to Minnesota, we did. Because it made sense ? the right ownership, the right building situation. The market was strong and vibrant. We haven?t studied Quebec City or Winnipeg or anywhere else in Canada, but the notion that if it could work to put a franchise back in a place where one was lost, feels good ? provided we don?t wind up in a situation where we?ve created a prescription for another failing franchise.

    So am I intrigued? It?s obviously something I?ve thought about in terms of trying to make right something that [at] one point in our history went wrong."

    Nothing about the NHL doing nothing to stop Green from moving a viable franchise (Minnesota) in the first place, of course.

    I very much doubt Winnipeg will get another franchise, though. It *is* a small market, and not getting any larger. (about 1.2 million in the entire province, 700,000 in the Winnipeg region)

    In Phoenix, where it has been for the past 12 years, it has been an unmitigated disaster. The team is $300,000,000.00 in debt; it has never had a profitable season, and the fans are disguised as seats. Brilliant move, Gary. Yet Bettman says he won't allow it to be moved. Why not? It's never stopped him in the past. The move the owner made, to bypass the NHL and sell it to Basillie is a very ominous sign, though. The owner is desperate, and the other owners are not happy about having to foot the bill.
  5. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    In 1997-8 the Hartford franchise is transferred to Raleigh and renamed the Carolina Hurricane.

    Hartford was having a difficult time competing in the 1990's. Hartford has a population of only 120,000 people. They couldn't get a new arena built, either, and so it was announced that they were moving--the only time a team announced a move without a new city set. Eventually they went to Raleigh, North Carolina, a really silly and disastrous choice. This is collegiate country.

    "Due to the relatively short time frame for the move, Karmanos himself thought of and decided upon the new name for the club, rather than holding a contest as is sometimes done." A really stupid name, too.

    "Unfortunately, the ESA would not be complete for two more years, and the only other hockey building in the Triangle was Dorton Arena, a 5,100-seat, 45-year-old building which was totally unsuitable for NHL hockey. The Hurricanes were thus forced to play home games in Greensboro, ninety minutes away from Raleigh, for their first two seasons after the move. This choice was disastrous for the franchise's attendance and reputation. With a capacity of over 21,000 people for hockey, the Greensboro Coliseum became the highest-capacity arena in the NHL, but Triangle-area fans proved unwilling to make the drive down I-40 to Greensboro, and fans from the Piedmont Triad mostly refused to support a lame-duck team that had displaced the longtime Greensboro/Carolina Monarchs minor-league franchise. Furthermore, only 29 out of 82 games were televised, and radio play-by-play coverage on WPTF was often pre-empted by North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball (for whose broadcasts WPTF was the flagship station), leaving these games totally unavailable to those who did not have a ticket. With attendance routinely well below the league average, Sports Illustrated ran a story titled "Natural Disaster,"[1] and ESPN anchors mocked the "Green Acres" of empty seats; in a 2006 interview, Karmanos admitted that "as it turns out, [Greensboro] was probably a mistake." No kidding.

    "For 1998?99 the Hurricanes curtained off most of the upper deck, lowering the Coliseum's stated capacity to about 12,000, but attendance continued to lag."

    They won the Cup in 2005/6, but missed the playoffs the next two years.

    The Whalers were the last NHL to move. To date.
  6. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Next: The sorry saga of the Nashville Predators.

    This is a city where the minor league teams go under (twice). Obviously a candidate for expansion? You decide.

    "In 1995, rumors began to circulate that the New Jersey Devils would be relocating to the planned Nashville Arena.[1] Nashville offered a $20 million relocation bonus to any team that would relocate,[2] and the Devils attempted to terminate their lease with New Jersey before finally restructuring it to stay put."

    "After the attempt to get the Devils, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman noted that Nashville would probably at least be considered in upcoming expansion.[4]

    In January 1997, a group led by Wisconsin businessman Craig Leipold made a formal presentation before the NHL requesting an expansion franchise.[5] When Bettman and league officials visited Nashville to tour the arena, thousands gathered on the Arena plaza to greet them. In June, the league granted conditional franchises to Nashville, Columbus, Atlanta and Minnesota. The Nashville team would be scheduled to begin play in 1998 if they met the NHL requirement of selling 12,000 season tickets before March 31, 1998.[6] Of the four cities, Nashville was the only one with a completed arena, and therefore began play first. A month later, Leipold named former Washington Capitals general manager David Poile as the franchise's first general manager.[7] Portland Pirates head coach Barry Trotz was named the franchise's first head coach on August 6.[8]

    As of January, however, the Predators were still at least 6,000 tickets short of the NHL imposed 12,000 season ticket goal. Rumors began to circulate that the team would move before the first puck ever hit the ice. One rumor had Leipold trading franchises with the Edmonton Oilers, with the Oilers moving to Nashville and the Nashville expansion franchise moving to Houston, Texas. Leipold shot this rumor down, "There is no chance".[11]

    When awarded a franchise, the Predators got a very lucrative deal. The city of Nashville paid 31.50% of the $80-million fee to join the league. The city also absorbs operating losses from the arena, despite the fact that the Sommet Center is operated by a subsidiary of the team.[12]"

    They are still not drawing flies, nor was this franchise a good idea in the first place.
  7. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    EDIT: Lordy. I've been looking for this all over.

  8. MarcusP2 Games and Community Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 10, 2004
    star 6
    Didn't know they played hockey on 19th century warships...
  9. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Twice Shy: Atlanta

    Atlanta had already failed once as an NHL franchise, but it's considered a major market, and the NHL was unable (typically) to face reality.

    "Atlanta was awarded a NHL franchise on June 25, 1997. This marked a return to Atlanta, Georgia by the NHL. The old Atlanta Flames team departed for Calgary in 1980 and became the Calgary Flames.

    The nickname "Thrashers", after Georgia's state bird, the brown thrasher, was selected from a fan poll. "Thrashers" had actually been runner-up to "Flames" for Atlanta's first NHL team and Philips Arena, the Thrashers' new home, was built on the site of the former Omni, which had been home to the Flames.

    The newly-formed Thrashers selected Patrik ?tefan with the first overall selection and Luke Sellars with their thirtieth overall pick (second pick of the second round) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. The entire 1999 NHL Entry Draft was a major disappointment for the Thrashers, as only one of their eleven draft picks (Garnet Exelby, selected in the eighth round, 217th overall) continues to play in the NHL as of 2009. [1] Their first two picks (?tefan and Sellars) were called two of the biggest disappointments in draft history, NHL.com listed ?tefan as the worst first overall pick of all-time and Sellars as the worst thirtieth overall pick in NHL history.[2] This was a major surprise as not only was ?tefan hyped by the media to be a franchise player, but Thrashers GM Don Waddell was considered by hockey experts as a man with excellent scouting ability. They played their first game on October 2, 1999, losing 4?1 to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the New Jersey Devils. Captain Kelly Buchberger scored the franchise's first goal in the loss. The team went on to finish their first season in last place with a record of 14 wins, 61 losses and 7 ties for a total of 39 points. The team ended up with the number 2 pick in the next draft, which brought better results for the team. With the second overall pick they chose Dany Heatley, who went on to become one of the Thrashers best players until he was traded to the Ottawa Senators on August 23, 2005, for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries.

    November 3, 2008, A Maryland court will begin proceedings on February 17, to decide the fate of the Thrashers' ownership. A dispute between Steve Belkin and his seven fellow owners dates back to 2005. Belkin claims the other owners breached their contract, giving him the right to buy them out at cost, while his counterparts say they should be able to buy out Belkin's 30-percent stake."


    The NHL just can't, or won't, accept that Atlanta won't support hockey.
  10. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Having royally screwed Minnesota over the North States (which the NHL allowed to move to Dallas for no good reason whatever), Gary Bettman (B for brains) decides to give them a new expansion franchise after seven hockeyless years. The Stars fans know the NHL is faithless and ruthless. But they agree. The new team is given the very stupid name of Wild. Wild what, for godsakes? Unfortunately, they hire Jacques Lemaire to coach. Lemaire has left a slime trail of dullness and egregiousness throughout the NHL. He coaches the trap, an acutely dull on-ice style. He claims the old Montreal teams played this style, which is bullcrap; just look at the tapes; firewagon hockey is what the old Montreal (and the newer Detroit teams) played. He also started the escalation in salaries while he was with St. Louis. The Wild never do terribly badly, but they never do terribly well, either. The fans are extremely loyal however.

    Number of teams: 29
  11. Shrapnel Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2005
    star 2
    Don't get me started on Lemaire
    He got rid of Lafleur, who maybe was pasted his prime, but still had some good hockey in him. Lemaire forgot that it was Lafleur who gave him his Stanley Cup rings in the 70's and he kicked him out of the team like a thief as soon as he got the possibility. He won in NJ because mainly of Brodeur and Brodeur won a cup without him after he left. But Lemaire's teams elsewhere were not good at all. To me, Lamoriello should get all the credits for the Devil's success. He's back with the Devils, but I'm not sure that he can bring the team where it once was.

    Back on topic: moving the Stars out of Minnesota was the first, but not last, stupid thing Bettman did. I used to like the North Stars, but I don't like the name Wild, the logo, or uniforms.
  12. Darth-Lando Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2002
    star 6
    The Wild logo is too clever for it's own good. It takes a solid 10 seconds of looking at it to figure out what it is. When it comes to team logos, the simpler the better.
  13. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    They also have the tendency to make completely inexplicable draft choices. No clue why.
  14. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Along with the Wild, the NHL put in another franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Ohio had not had a franchise since the Cleveland Barons tanked 22 years ago. Not a good precedent. In nine years, the Jackets have made the play-offs but once.
  15. Eeth-my-Koth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2001
    star 9
    Zaz, I really do love this thread.
    It's so saf we're nearing the end.
    Maybe Bettman will allow the Islanders to relocate to Honolulu so they can keep the nickname. :p
  16. Darth-Lando Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2002
    star 6
    If Phoenix moves the Pacific Division WOULD need a new team... [face_thinking]
  17. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    This thread is not ending...now we get to the Jim Basillie fiasco, and how he is rapidly turning into Bettman's nemesis.
  18. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    "Winnipeg fans hope NHL Coyote woes lead to more teams in Canada

    The Canadian Press

    2009-05-06 18:20:00

    Winnipeg hockey fans, whose hearts were ripped out when their beloved Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes over a decade ago, are crossing their fingers in hopes the financially strapped NHL franchise could be returning to Canada.

    They're hoping a Coyotes move may pave the way for other cash-crunched U.S. sunbelt franchises to run for the border, which could be good news for them.

    "I think this may start a house of cards," said Darren Ford, who oversees the long-running "Return of the Jets" grassroots campaign to return NHL hockey to the Manitoba capital.

    "The numbers are there. Winnipeg is a hockey hot bed. The fan base is here, the corporate support is here, the new arena is here. It's only a matter of time."

    The Coyotes could be headed to southern Ontario if Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie gets his way.

    On Tuesday, the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion made a US$212.5-million offer to buy the Coyotes. The deal is conditional on moving the team to southern Ontario.

    Winnipeg hasn't seen NHL hockey since the Jets - hemorrhaging money and failing to find a new owner - moved to the desert in 1996.

    They took with them almost a quarter-century of hockey memories from a team that was the flagship of the fledgling World Hockey Association in the 1970s, but failed miserably after joining the NHL in 1979.

    Ford, whose pride and joy is an autographed rookie Teemu Selanne Jets jersey, says he has had more than two million hits in six years on his www.jetsowner.com website.

    Fans log on in to discuss the latest relocation news or gnash their teeth over cities like Miami hosting NHL games where the empty seats outnumber fans two to one.

    NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has never ruled out a return to Winnipeg, but has never given the idea any impetus either.

    The league is now locked in a legal battle over the Coyotes, who had been losing money all season and needed cash infusions from the league. On Tuesday the team filed for bankruptcy protection and took steps to sell the team to Balsillie, bypassing normal league approval procedures.

    Balsillie has been rebuffed in earlier attempts to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators with an eye to moving them to a market such as Hamilton or Kitchener-Waterloo.

    The moves have angered the league's upper echelon, and Ford says Balsillie may not be a good fit.

    "He seems to be ticking the league off too much. I'm not sure I'd want a Jim Balsillie in Winnipeg's corner," he said.

    Jets supporter Lauren Robb says Balsillie or not, he doesn't want the franchise back. They were dogs, he says, long before they became desert dogs. In 17 seasons the team rarely made it out of the first round of the NHL playoffs.

    "The whole franchise has been a failing non-event ever since it came into the league," said Robb, who has chronicled the history of the Jets on www.winnipegjetsonline.com.

    "But just coming up north (to Canada) is a good idea, to show if one team from the southern region fails and they're able to move up north, that gives the idea to other failing southern teams."

    Robb, 32, says his fondest Jet memories are the "White Outs" - when fans jammed Winnipeg Arena in the playoffs, all dressed in white, blowing horns and waving flags.

    "That was one of the loudest things I ever experienced," said Robb. "We could be losing and we were still loud."

    As an 11-year-old, he was rinkside when Jets goalie Daniel Berthiaume broke a stick in pre-game warm-up, skated over and handed it to him.

    "I held this thing like you wouldn't believe through the entire game making sure no one took it from me. It was one of the greatest things."

    The stick hangs on the wall today by his computer, next to his replica white Bob Essensa jersey.

    He and Ford say they don't buy the argument that the league's 15,015-seat MTS Centre - currently home to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League - isn't up to NHL size or standards.

    "Per capita, we have more hockey fans than possibly anybo
  19. Eeth-my-Koth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2001
    star 9
    lol
    He has a short memory.
  20. Boba_Fett_2001 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2000
    star 8
    As much as I would want another team in Canada, Balsillie is constantly killing his chances of getting a franchise and being accepted as an owner. He doesn't have one NHL owner on his side and he's not doing anything to change his reputation for the better.
  21. Darth-Lando Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2002
    star 6
    But these are American cities. The US audience is obviously much more important than Canada's. Everyone in America loves hockey! Right? RIGHT? [face_worried]
  22. ImpKnight Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2008
    star 3
    It is. Most of the Canadians who will watch hockey are watching it. Another team in Canada will not bring as many new NHL fans as people think. There is greater chance fpr more fans in the US. Also, the teams that are most against another Canadian team, ARE the Canadian teams.


    Another thing people should realize is that Gary Bettman is doing his job. His job is to represent the owners. They tell him what to do. The day he stops doing what they tell him is the day he loses his job. I don't understand why people get so mad at him.
  23. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9

    Dream on. Bettman keeps saying: we just have to promote it. I say: no amount of promotion will do it; accept that and move on.
  24. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    And now we come to the sad saga of Jim Balsillie. Balsillie is worth 1.8 billion, and in the ordinary course of events, the NHL would have been chasing him to get him to buy a franchise.

    There's just one problem. Balsillie is a Canadian. Thus, the NHL fears that any franchise he buys he will move to Canada. If he moved it to another part of the States, they wouldn't care.

    from Wiki: "On October 5, 2006, Balsillie made a bid to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins, an NHL franchise, for US$185 million from former player Mario Lemieux and his partners.

    At the Penguins' home opener that evening, Balsillie appeared in the TV booth with broadcasters Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey during the second period. Upon hearing that Errey was from Peterborough, Ontario, Balsillie's hometown, Balsillie responded with an expletive, "oh man holy ****!", that went out over live TV.[6]

    The announcement came at a time that the Penguins were attempting to build a new arena. The team had reached a deal with casino operator Isle of Capri Casinos, where a new $290 million privately-funded facility would be built across the street from Mellon Arena, should the company receive a slots casino license from the state of Pennsylvania.

    While Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell created an alternative to the funding plan should the casino proposal fail to materialize, Balsillie said that only the Isle of Capri plan would guarantee the Pittsburgh Penguins' future in the city.

    His statements drew skepticism from fans, who believed Balsillie intended to move the team to Canada. While Balsillie refused to rule a move out, he asserted his commitment to Pittsburgh, should a new arena be built.

    On December 15, 2006, Balsillie withdrew his bid to buy the team. He made the decision after receiving notice from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that the league would negotiate the arena deal on his behalf and the league also wanted the right to take over the team if necessary. [7] The NHL's involvement before the finalization of the sale added uncertainty and excessive risk to Balsillie's venture.

    Balsillie's sudden withdrawal angered Lemieux to the point that he claimed he would be able to retain Balsillie's $10 million deposit.[8] The deposit was eventually returned, perhaps in light of subsequent events - the Penguins' existing ownership eventually negotiated a new arena deal with the Pennsylvanian government, and subsequently took the team off the market."
  25. Darth McClain Arena Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2000
    star 6
    This is only part one of Jim Balsillie's saga, though. I'm glad that he's not the Pens owner, though.


    Going back to the original post, about putting two teams in PA in 1967, I don't believe that it had been mentioned that Pittsburgh had a long tradition of successful minor league teams in the '50s and '60s, as well as an old NHL team (Pittsburgh Pirates) who later were the first hockey team in Philly.