So many NHL teams in so many obscure regions of the country. And oh so many empty seats. Ladies and gentleman, I'm afraid The Great Experiment has failed. Bettman rolled the dice and went broke. His dream of creating this humongous U.S. market never materalized. Perhaps it is time to revisit the idea of relocation. Yes relocation. To Canada. The San Jose Sharks who routinely sell out HP Pavilion are immune. The Anaheim Ducks also appear to be safe & sound. However, the same can not be said for the Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes & Columbus Blue Jackets. Face it. These locations were as strategic as an igloo in downtown Las Vegas. The fan base, or interest for that matter, simply isn't there. Nor will it ever be. Despite playoff berths and Stanley Cup championships, the attendance and television ratings are nonexistent. Despite the negative financial returns, player salaries continue to escalate. Owners continue to lose a fortune yet appear rooted to the spot & unable to seek greener pastures.
Oh there are greener pastures my friend. They can be found in the Great White North. With the rise of the Canadian dollar and the subsequent slide of it's U.S. counterpart, the funds are more even now. With the new salary cap and revenue sharing, Canadian cities could experience a new NHL Renaissance. Winnipeg, Quebec City, Kitchener-Waterloo, Haliflax & Victoria. Unlike the U.S., the avid hockey fan base is already there. Canadian teams routinely sell out every night. The NHL can work with local municipalities on arena funding & construction. It can work. The Phoenix Coyotes could leave the Glendale Arena, where the meger attendance can be measured in how loud you can hear your own echo, and don the classic Winnipeg Jets jersey. The Nashville Predators could leave the Country Music Capital and give the hockey-starved residents of Quebec their famed Nordiques back. The Florida Panthers could put down the suntan lotion & make the residents of Kitchener-Waterloo happy. The Columbus Blue Jackets could bolt & make the people of Victoria smile from ear to ear. The Rebirth of The Victoria Cougars. Similar to The Rebirth of the Ottawa Senators in the 90's. A dream? Perhaps. A fantasy? No. More possible than you could ever imagine. It requires but a single nudge to start a boulder rolling down the hill.
Revision: Upon further anaysis and contemplation, I was premature in my assessment of Columbus. It's location in The Midwest & proximity to the Mid-Atlantic states are infact strategic. Their long, cold winters do make it ideal for hockey. I deeply apologize if I offended in any way the fine residents of this great state.