Two Hundredth blog eh? I think that gives me a great excuse to go on a rant that should cover a fair bit of the NHL! But lets start with the team I cover. The Calgary Flames!
It’s pretty cut and dry for the Flames. Win all six and you probably get in. Anything less than that and I’ll have extra time to focus on the
Coyotes errr Jets. The good news for the Flames is that four of the six games they play are against the Avalanche, Blues, and two against the Oilers. All of those should be wins. They also play the Ducks and Canucks. The Anaheim game could be a war if the Flames are still in it and is likely the toughest game they have left. Vancouver plays Calgary to end the season. Vancouver will have nothing to play for and may rest some players, and if I’m Vancouver I’d probably rather play Calgary than Anaheim given the choice.
It’s not impossible for the Flames but it is highly unlikely as injuries and being down so far in the standings at Christmas time has appeared to finally catch up with them. That being said I won’t say the task is impossible for this group of players.
The NHL has two huge problems right now. Namely the Phoenix Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers. There is little doubt in my mind that the NHL desperately wants (or wanted if certain rumors are true) the Coyotes to remain in Glendale. However it is looking more and more likely that the Goldwater Institute will be successful in blocking the bond sale that would keep the Coyotes in Glendale for a few years until Matthew Hulsizer moved the team himself or declared bankruptcy after a few seasons of multi million dollar losses. But the question remains why on earth does the NHL want to keep a team in a market that has fan support like this..
Thanks to @AllyK00 for the photo. She is a season ticket holder for the Coyotes who has been kind enough to share photos with all of us on what it really is like at jobing.com arena! Follow her on twitter and you will see lots of the same!
The reason that the NHL is fighting so hard is they have an almost larger problem in Atlanta with the Thrashers. The Thrashers ownership group has been desperately trying to get anyone to take the Thrashers or take the Thrashers, NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, and the Philips Arena. The rumored price tag for all three is $600M. Unfortunately no one has been found that is willing to take the Thrashers as part of the deal. Reports say that the Thrashers will lose nearly $40M again this year, so it is understandable why a prospective buyer would be hesitant to take the Thrashers.
It is my belief that the Atlanta Thrashers were planned to be sold to True North Sports Entertainment in Winnipeg and be moved to Winnipeg and the MTS Centre. This would have solved a few issues for the NHL and also allowed the Detroit Red Wings to move to the Eastern Conference where they desperately want to be. So if Phoenix ends up going to Winnipeg what happens with Atlanta?
That brings us to Quebec City. The City and Province of Quebec have agreed to a $400M new facility that would play host to a new NHL team, scheduled to be finished by 2015. This facility and the fact that Quebec City wants back in the NHL was the perfect bargaining chip for the NHL to use against any city threatened by their team leaving in the same way Winnipeg has been used as leverage against a few cities, as well as ensuring that shovels are in the ground before seriously considering Quebec City as a market. It would have been a win – win situation for the NHL.
The Atlanta Thrashers could be moved to Quebec City at any time if the need emerges. The Pepsi Colisee in Quebec is prepared to undergo a $10M renovation that will have it back in shape for NHL hockey in October, and it certainly would not be the first time that the NHL has moved a team to a market that had a sub standard building while a new one was being built. As most Flames fans know the Calgary Flames started in the 8000 seat Stampede Corral until the Saddledome was finished.
If there is no buyer for the Atlanta Thrashers locally I could see this issue coming to the fore front in the next month once the situation in Phoenix is settled one way or another. If I had to bet on what will happen I would say that the Phoenix Coyotes will be known as the Manitoba Jets next year playing out of Winnipeg. The Atlanta Thrasher will spend a season being owned by the NHL while they try to find a local buyer and put pressure on the Quebec government to start building the new facility. In 2012-2013 I think the Thrashers move to Quebec City and play two years in the Colisee until the new facility is built.
The NHL has screwed up these situations so bad that they may not have any choice but to relocate a couple teams soon. Also remember that the NHL desperately wants to expand to 32 teams. If the NHL is forced to move a team to Quebec City that would open the door for Hamilton’s best friend Jim Balsille to get an expansion franchise. Make no mistake the NHL is still furious at Balsille but they also know that people willing to shell out a quarter of a billion dollars for an expansion franchise are becoming rarer with each passing day. If I had to guess on where a second expansion team would end up I’d bet on Las Vegas or Houston right now.
Yes Winnipeg you are about to get your team. Quebec City you are getting one soon too! And don’t worry Nordiques fans. I’ll be looking into everything going on there as well!
On a personal note I’d like to thank the few readers and twitter followers that have been reading my blogs for the past year+ I really hope that one day soon we can be talking about a Flames Cup run!
And I would really like to thank all the newer readers and followers who have jumped on board in the last two months. I have enjoyed all the twitter chats and questions about every issue in the NHL, and look forward to many more!
Go Flames! Go Jets! (until they are in the North West Division) and Go Nordiques!
Have a good one!
Follow me on twitter! www.twitter.com/shanehoopfer
About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!