Tag: relocation talk

New York Islanders Management Wait for New Arena Voter Referendum Results

Report: Islanders increasingly likely to leave Long Island in future


The Phoenix Coyotes perpetually dominate relocation rumors, but don’t sleep on the New York Islanders, either.

CBS’ Brian Stubits passes along word from B.D. Gallof that the Islanders’ chances of sticking around the Long Island area after their lease expires keep dwindling.

In other words, barring a miracle, Nassau is done as an Islanders option come 2015. That wreckage and loss, when the Isles cease to be a county taxpayer, will be left piled on many a politician’s feet that no amount of partisan rhetoric will be able to quell. In fact, despite that lark of a referendum, there were severe questions asked of the public vote and the viability of Nassau County to offer anything even before it was held.

Sharing the New Jersey-turned-Brooklyn Nets’ venue seems like a logical move – it saves the moving trucks some gas, makes it possible for locals to still follow the team to an extent – but it would be far from the only option for the franchise if Nassau County loses the team as the signs seem to point to.

A lot can change by 2015, but most reports indicate that the Islanders’ time in Long Island is drawing close to an end.

Thrashers-to-Winnipeg and the NHL’s relocation by-laws


It seems like the Atlanta Thrashers’ relocation to Winnipeg is bound to happen at this point, but one cannot ignore a possible hurdle in the process. Even once the details of the sale are finalized, the transaction must be approved by a majority of the league’s owners in a Board of Governors meeting.

Chances are high-to-certain that they would approve that deal, but Laura Astorian of SBNation Atlanta wonders if that would trample upon the league’s by-laws when it comes to relocation. (If you would like to read through all of the by-laws yourself, Astorian provided them in this Google document.)

While Astorian’s account goes into detail about how the move can be construed as a violation of those by-laws, perhaps the biggest theme focuses on the missed opportunity in Atlanta. No doubt about it, that Georgia city has a huge population, though the natural debate revolves around how much of that public would be willing to spend money on season tickets to hockey games.

Here’s one part of the by-laws she pointed to (in bold) and her reaction to that section.

36.5. In determining whether to consent to the transfer of a Member Club’s franchise to a different city or borough persuant to Section 4.2 of the Constitution, each Member Club shall be guided by the following considerations:

(a) Whether the Club in question is financially viable in its present location and, if not, whether there is a reasonable prospect, based on any of the considerations set forth in subsections (b) through (j) below, or for any other reason, that it could become financially viable there, either under its present ownership or under new ownership.

Big question here is not if the Thrashers have made money, but whether they can make money? We’re in the city in the Southeast with the largest population, the 8th largest TV viewing area in the US, and there are 5.5 million people in the metro area. How could anyone state that the team can’t become financially viable under new ownership that correctly runs the franchise? It’s fairly obvious that under a decent business plan the team has a very solid chance of being viable.

It’s tough to argue with the notion that a more successful Thrashers team might have been able to draw more people. As many of you know, the Thrashers never won a playoff game in their franchise history. (They were swept in their only postseason appearance in 2007 against a mediocre New York Rangers team.) In most cases, winning is the best viral marketer and the Thrashers never really had the chance to “hook” people on the game with a big playoff run like, say, the Carolina Hurricanes did.

That being said, it probably doesn’t help the market’s cause that the Atlanta Flames left to become the Calgary Flames. Some owners might hold that against the market regardless of mistakes made by the owners. There’s also the matter of finding a local group to keep the team in Atlanta, something the Atlanta Spirit reportedly failed to accomplish.

Teams in non-traditional markets need a lot of things to go there way to capture the imaginations (and cash) of their potential audience. Star power and success are big factors in that process, but stable management and ownership are probably the most important engines. The Thrashers rarely had any of those things going for them, aside from the star power of players such as Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, the ill-fated Dany Heatley era and Marc Savard’s brief run.

Fair or not, it’s unlikely that the Board of Governors will interpret the by-laws the way Astorian did. Perhaps someone will look to articles like these if the argument is made to take a third swing at bringing an NHL team to Atlanta in the distant future, though.

The pros and cons of bringing an NHL team to Seattle, Washington

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets - Game Three

Yes, it’s foolish to read too much into a report that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly admitted that at least one group has discussed the possibility of bringing a team to Seattle. Daly was quick to say that the unnamed group wouldn’t be ready to make a move before the 2010-11 season starts, for one thing. It’s also true that the NHL has flirted with other markets without results so far, with Quebec City and Kansas City coming to mind.

So while it’s fun to imagine a marriage of grunge, over-priced coffee and hockey, it’s important to realize that it’s far from an impending reality. If nothing else, it’s a pretty interesting concept to consider, though. For the sake of fun, here are a few of the reasons why a Seattle team could work and some of the obstacles along the way.

Why a Seattle team could work

Canucks overflow?: The NHL has been reluctant to add another team in Toronto’s general area partially out of fear of how such a move would hurt the Buffalo Sabres franchise. Many hockey-starved fans will make the trip to the U.S. to catch Sabres games since Maple Leafs tickets are so tough to come by.

It’s likely that a Seattle-based franchise would enjoy a similar relationship. (While different Web sites provide a variety of results on the driving distance between the cities, it seems safe to say that the drive is less than 200 miles.)

A solid market in its own right: Seattle’s metropolitan area is the 15th-largest in the United States, while its 560K+ population would rank it right behind the Washington Capitals according to this table. We can quibble about the exact numbers from the 2010 Census, but the market seems to be showing promising signs of growth and already ranks as a nice home for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners.

Washington’s decent history with hockey: It’s important to factor a market’s history with the sport, too. Chris Daniels provides a quick summary of the sport’s history in the state of Washington.

Seattle has long been discussed in NHL circles. The Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917. The Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds have been successful at the Western Hockey League level.

Seattle’s biggest obstacle

One cannot discuss a possible NHL team in Seattle without referencing the ugly departure of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics, though. While there are a variety of factors that made that situation a little more complicated than a failed market, the one legitimate concern was the viability of Key Arena.

The arena’s capacity for basketball games is a little more than 17,000, but that total would probably be a bit lower for an NHL game. Hockey teams generate much of their revenue from the box office, so that might be a considerable turn-off.

Daly discussed some perceived problems with the seats themselves.

But Daly says he still has concerns about a possible venue for an NHL Franchise.

“Key Arena is a difficult arena for hockey. How many of those seats would be obstructed view seats?” he said.

There might be some other problems with adding a Seattle team, but Key Arena would probably be the key stumbling block.


There are some significant reasons why a team would and would not work in Seattle, but it seems like an enticing possibility overall. While the city seemed unwilling to build an entirely new arena to keep the Sonics, there were signs that people were willing to renovate Key Arena to make it work. Maybe a renovated Key Arena wouldn’t be an ideal fit for a new or relocated team, but there’s a lot to like about the idea of an NHL team coming to Seattle anyway.

Report: Atlanta Spirit,True North negotiating deal; Thrashers could relocate to Winnipeg


The rumors have been flying for quite some time now, but it seems like there’s fire to back up all that smoke. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore reports that the Atlanta Spirit and True North are indeed negotiating a deal that could relocate the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg.

Vivlamore points out that a deal hasn’t been completed and it is unclear how long the two sides have been negotiating, but it’s possible that the Thrashers could be relocated in time for the 2011-12 season.

The factors described in the report itself aren’t exactly “new.” After all, Joe already took a look at what the NHL’s divisional realignment might look like if the Thrashers moved to the ‘Peg. That being said, this not-quite-confirmed story that appeared in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution gives more concrete credibility to the rumors.

“I have never confirmed nor denied specific parties we have been talking to in regards to a possible sale of the Thrashers,” Atlanta Spirit co-owner Bruce Levenson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday.

Typically, confidentiality agreements are signed between parties in negotiations which would prohibit Atlanta Spirit ownership from identifying suitors.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, reach via e-mail, said there was “nothing I’m prepared to say at this point.” A True North Sports and Entertainment spokesperson had no comment.

Jeff Schultz expanded on the subject in a column for the AJC, pointing out that the outlook is grim but the move isn’t set in stone, either. Schultz mapped out three scenarios that could keep the Thrashers in Atlanta.

♦ 1.) A financial angel falls out of the sky. But thus far, no prospective owner has come forward with both a stated desire to buy the team and proof of his financial worth.

♦ 2.) Something falls apart on the Winnipeg end (with True North), or from the league’s perspective (other owners may be uncomfortable with the fact new local ownership for the Coyotes still isn’t assured).

♦ 3.) Bettman effectively stalls and gives the Atlanta franchise a one-year stay of execution, telling Levenson and the Spirit that the franchise can’t be moved for next season. It’s not believed the Atlanta Spirit could just walk away from the hockey team and throw the keys to the league. So it’s not certain what would happen if Bettman disallowed a move right now and the Spirit resisted.

While this situation doesn’t technically need to be resolved at a specific point, the league needs to put together a schedule for the 2011-12 season soon. Considering how antsy the Spirit is to get rid of the team (to be fair, they’ve reported losses in the $130 million range), they want to sell the Thrashers as soon as possible.

In other words, this story could develop really quickly.

Again, no deal is official yet. That being said, Thrashers fans must accept the possibility that their team really might move to Winnipeg this summer.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon has it out with NESN’s Jack Edwards over Panthers-to-Quebec City rant


If you’re not familiar with NESN’s Jack Edwards, you’re really missing out on one of the most unique play-by-play men in the league. Chances are you remember better for his work with ESPN, but now he’s the voice of the Boston Bruins and if you’ve heard him call a game there you either love him or hate him for his extremely pro-Boston take on things. Recently on NESN’s program “Instigators” Edwards debated with his broadcast partner Andy Brickley (with NBC’s Mike Milbury mediating) over whether or not the Panthers have any hope.

The key line from what Edwards had to say on this rather fun and entertaining segment was this:

“Quebec deserves a team that’s on the verge of winning. Let’s let Florida build it up and then move the team.”

Hardy hardy har har. Everyone’s laughing and having a good time at the expense of the Panthers. That is, except for Panthers GM Dale Tallon. Tallon met up with Edwards during the game and had a few terse words with the feisty play-by-play man/history aficionado. Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel tells the tale.

When Panthers GM Dale Tallon was informed that NESN sportscaster Jack Edwards has been bad-mouthing the Panthers’ franchise and urging the NHL to relocate them to Quebec City, Tallon took umbrage and confronted him in between periods.

The two exchanged a lively debate and apparently agreed to disagree with a handshake at the end.

All’s well that ends well, it seems. It’s funny to see that Tallon would get so worked up by what would appear to be just a goofy segment not unlike what we’d see on a Sunday NFL pregame show. George Richards of On Frozen Pond gets the straight dirt from Tallon and it sounds like it’s a situation where a guy is just sticking up for his team.

“I think our fans have been through quite a bit over the years,” Tallon said. “We have very loyal fans. And we’ll get more of them, you watch. We have an up-and-coming team. We’re fine.”

No one is urging the Panthers out of town at all here, but when a team doesn’t do well for such a long time and the attendance is almost always an issue, people are going to make comments and jokes. For once here I think we can cut Jack Edwards a little bit of slack. Someone had to be the bad cop in this debate, we’re just disappointed that Edwards didn’t find a way to work in a reference to the Battle of Quebec during the Revolutionary War into his take somehow. He’s pretty good with the old time war references you know.