I know this doesn't involve the Minnesota Wild at all, but this is the most talked about off-the-ice issue in the NHL at the moment. Are the Phoenix Coyotes staying in Phoenix or are they moving to Hamilton? We still don't have an answer to that question yet as the regular season is less than 1 month away. Jim Balsillie is the "mastermind" behind the attempt to move the Coyotes to Hamilton. Weird, we've heard about him trying to move a team to Hamilton before, but he failed at that attempt. He even sold Nashville season tickets in Hamilton, which last time I checked, was illegal since he didn't own the team or have a lease for an arena. And then there was that other time a year prior to the attempt to move the Predators to Hamilton where he tried to move a different team to Hamilton. He keeps using the same methods over and over in an attempt to move teams to Hamilton. The way you go about things in life is how you are perceived as a person. Jim Balsillie is going about this the wrong way, and that is why a lot of hockey fans out there perceive him as just another big shot trying to make more money and not care about any team that he may someday own.
If you want to do something the right way and have other people support your claims, you have to follow protocol, which Balsillie isn't doing in this situation or any of the previous situations. The NHL doesn't want another team near Toronto right now, but Balsillie apparently can't hear words or has never heard of the expression "get a clue." You can't try to backdoor your way into getting a team, sell tickets when you don't own a team or have an arena lease, piss off every other owner in the league, or try to move a team during the regular season just to get what you want.
Now let's look at this a little closer. Hamilton is located in Ontario, not that far from Toronto. Toronto is not that far from Detroit and not that far from Buffalo. Since the economy is down and affecting a lot of sports teams out there as well as their fans, this presents one of the many problems that I have with this. If the Coyotes did in fact move to Hamilton, 3 other teams lose money in ticket sales. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres would all lose money from ticket sales due to the fact that there would be a team in Hamilton. The Red Wings have fans cross the Canadian border onto U.S. soil to see games at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Toronto Maple Leafs would also lose some of their fans to a team in Hamilton. The Leafs average 19,312 a game at Air Canada Center (791,795 total fans for their 41 home games in 2008-09), a number that would most likely drop due to a team in Hamilton. And lastly the Buffalo Sabres would lose money due to ticket sales if a team played in Hamilton. Buffalo, like Detroit, has a great Canadian fan base as well. The Sabres averaged 18,531 fans at their home games at HSBC Arena and a total of 759,798 fans went to games there last season.
Another thing that makes me hate this issue is the fact that numerous people out there keep saying that a team in Hamilton will be successful. While that could be true, it's not a for sure thing just because they would be in Canada. If it was a sure sure thing, Winnipeg and Quebec would still have teams right now and we wouldn't have to hear about whether or not the Coyotes are staying in Phoenix or moving to Hamilton. The Jets and Nordiques lost money and fan support because both of those teams stopped being successful, which led to both teams being relocated to Phoenix and Denver respectively.
My main problem with this move, assuming that it actually happens, is the fact that it would cause a ripple effect that would affect the entire league. Revenue and ticket sales for 3 teams as mentioned above are in this mix, as well as the conferences, divisions, schedule, expansion and travel situations. If Hamilton gets the Coyotes they would probably move to the Eastern Conference. As of now both conferences have the same number of teams with each conference having 15 teams each and 5 teams in each division. If the Coyotes did in fact move and played in the Eastern Conference in Hamilton, the East would have 16 teams to the West's 14 teams. Since teams are pretty much geographically placed into each of the 2 conferences and each of the 6 divisions that make up the NHL, this would lead to uneven teams in both conferences and uneven teams in divisions. The only way to fix this would be to add 2 more teams to the West (via expansion) or move 2 teams in the East over to the West (relocation).
Now here's a hypothetical situation to lay on all of you: say Dr. Evil (Balsillie; all he needs is a cat and a plot for world domination) gets his wish and moves the Coyotes to Hamilton mid-season like he said recently. Now assume that they stay in the Western Conference and in the Pacific Division, which would make no sense but it's a hypothetical situation so just think about it. Every non Pacific division team that goes on their west coast road trip would have to go to L.A., San Jose, and Anaheim and then fly all the way back across the country and then fly to Hamilton just to play 1 game there. Pacific division teams would get the worst end of this deal because they would have to fly to Hamilton more than the teams outside of their division would, which means more money spent traveling for these teams through different time zones, players would be tired quicker because of the extra travel, and fans would have to stay up later to see their team play in the eastern time zone while having to deal with things like work, families, etc. Now put yourself in the shoes of those fans and ask yourself this question: would you want to have to go through all of that? If you say yes, you're lying to yourselves.
I don't have a problem with another team in Canada, I just have a problem with Balsillie and the way all of this has unfolded. It's gotten out of control so fast and affects so many people such as the players on the Coyotes, the front office for the Coyotes, the rest of the owners in the NHL that oppose the methods used by Balsillie in order to be an owner of an NHL team (for a 3rd time now), and most importantly, the fans that show their support for the Phoenix Coyotes all year round, all season, every season. There are people out there that want Balsillie to own the Coyotes, most of them are Canadians and the rest of them are anti-Bettman. So to all of those people that are anti-Bettman and want Balsillie to get his wish and own the Coyotes, let me ask you the million dollar question: what if Balsillie used the same methods to try to become owner of your favorite team and tried to take your team away from you and move them to another country? How would that make you feel? Exactly. It should make you feel sick to your stomach.