Remember Graeme Roustan? He was the guy who tried to build an NHL-caliber arena in the Toronto suburb of Markham.
Long story short, it didn’t happen.
But Roustan never gave up on his dream of owning an NHL team. And today’s news that the league will begin a “formal expansion review process” has him vowing to be part of that process.
“I will definitely be making an application on behalf of the [Greater Toronto Area],” Roustan told the Hockey News. “I’ve always believed that a second NHL team in Toronto would flourish and I’ve been preparing since 2010 for this possibility.”
More from the Hockey News:
Roustan said he will look at all possibilities in the GTA for an arena, including revisiting the possibility of going to Markham. When asked if that would include the possibility of playing out of the Air Canada Centre, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, perhaps as a temporary measure, Roustan said, “We’re going to look at every opportunity to have a franchise in the GTA and if that means a possible temporary location, so be it.”
The NHL has always insisted that the Leafs have no veto on a second Toronto team.
“They can be dead-set against it, but that doesn’t mean they can stop the league from putting a franchise here if the league thinks it makes sense,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in 2009. “It’s a majority vote.”
While it’s possible the Leafs could receive an indemnification payment should the league expand into the GTA, it’s not clear how much would satisfy Leafs ownership, or if that compensation would be on top of the $500 million expansion fee that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hinted at today.
A source told the Hockey News that the “indemnification fee would come out of the expansion fee, not be in addition to it.”
If you were one of the other 29 owners, what would you think of that? Personally, I’d rather the Leafs negotiated their own separate fee, not take a chunk out of my cut. Though I guess if I felt Toronto was the best untapped market, I could live with it. It beats propping up bad markets.
Bottom line: it’s not out of the question that, one day, there will be a second team in Toronto. Certainly, the market could support one.
But let’s face it — Las Vegas is probably getting an expansion team. And if anyone in Seattle can figure out a way to build an arena, that city will probably get one too. Surely the NHL wouldn’t grant three new franchises.
It may be that Toronto’s best chance — and the same goes for Quebec City — is relocation.
Just don’t tell Bettman that.
He doesn’t like when people say that.