There was a tweet on the 19th from Mike Ozanian that caught my attention, mostly by making me laugh. It’s just one line, no backstory, no substantiation, and the only mention of this anywhere: “Don’t be surprised if St. Louis Blues move to Canada.”
Ok, so now all teams with bad ownership situations are moving to the Great White North? How is this even practical? With the Thrashers it became increasingly apparent over time that something along the lines of a move to Canada was going to happen, as hard as it was to accept. Attendance was dropping, ownership was bumbling everything it touched. Once Phoenix went off the table for a year, it was as good as done.
Now, the Coyotes are still unstable because the chances the League is going to be able to wrangle $25 million out of the City of Glendale to cover losses on an annual basis isn’t going to happen – and fans aren’t exactly excited to come out for a team that they don’t know will be there next season. If there is a candidate for relocation – and I hope that there isn’t another one; two in two years isn’t indicitave of a well run League – it’s probably the Coyotes.
But wait… the Dallas Stars are facing bankruptcy, and have a wealthy Candian, Tom Gaglardi, as the leading candidate for purchasing the team. Is he going to move them to Canada? Probably not, because of all of the past success the Dallas Stars have had in their market – they’re a moneymaker, but at least there’s a tie to Canada somewhere in there.
Instead, Ozanian looked at the Blues. Why? Well, for starters there really haven’t been any big investors to tie to the team as “the one to buy them.” They’ve been up for official sale since March 17th, when Dave Checketts said he just couldn’t afford them (and the Peoria Rivermen) anymore. Since then, nary a peep has come out regarding any progress on the sale. I suppose if you take that, factor in that Gary Bettman told RIM founder Jim Balsillie that if he played nice he could get his team (which Bill Daly is completely denying – because he did a swell job doing that with the Thrashers sale), and ta da. Instant news!
The Blues haven’t made much ground on the sale of their team, and because Bettman told Balsillie that he could get his team, well of course the Blues are well on their way to Canada. Wouldn’t be the first time there’s been a rumor about this – Saskatoon Blues, anyone? And the Salomons? Come on – the team literally had three people working for them at one point. If the NHL didn’t want to lose a market like St. Louis in the early 1980s, why would they now? And if the Blues can survive Nancy and Bill Laurie, you’d think they could survive this hiccup.
There’s a pesky matter of the Blues being an attendance and ratings winner for the league. They were 7th in the league’s attendance last season, averaging over 19,000 a game and sold out out 40 of 41 home games. You factor in the TV ratings, and the league would be insane to move.
Sure, there are state of the art arenas in Quebec City and Hamilton, but Quebec’s hit a hiccup and Hamilton’s smack dab in both the Toronto Maple Leafs’ and Buffalo Sabres’ territory.
But no, conjecture! A tweet without even a story to go with it! Balsillie! Thrashers moving! Yeah, why wouldn’t the league lose one of it’s top ten teams as far as attendance go to a market a fraction of the size? Makes sense to me.