The NHL has seen quite a few teams leave one city, relocate to another, and then years later, witness the former city land a new team. There are rumors, following the newest Rogers/NHL television broadcast deal, that an expansion franchise may be coming. Some think this could mean a new team in Quebec. Others think that there could be a second team in Toronto. If so, how might the new Quebec team fare against that former Quebec team (the Avalanche)? How would the Maple Leafs fare against a second and brand new Toronto club?
We wondered how the old versus the new fared against one another.
A couple of seasons ago, the city of Winnipeg was happy to see NHL hockey back in their neck of the woods. It is interesting to note that in the battle of the Old and New Winnipeg Jets, it is the old Winnipeg that has the edge over the newest iteration of the Jets. The Old Jets (now the Phoenix Coyotes) have a 6-2-1 record against the new Jets. Neither team has won the Stanley Cup.
This begs the question. How have other franchises formerly based in one city fared against that town’s newest club?
Those very same new Jets used to be the Atlanta Thrashers. Before there were the Thrashers, Atlanta had the Flames, who are now in Calgary. How did the old Atlanta club (Calgary Flames) fare against the new Atlanta (now the new Jets). For our purposes we will include any games played between Calgary and the new Winnipeg Jets. For starters, the old Atlanta can boast of one Stanley Cup win (in 1989 as Calgary). The Atlanta Thrashers organization never won it. The Calgary Flames (old Atlanta Flames) enjoy a 7-5-1 edge against the new Atlanta (formerly the Thrashers now the newest Winnipeg Jets).
The old Colorado Rockies (the hockey team, not to be confused with the baseball team of the same name) eventually moved to New Jersey and became the Devils. Colorado would eventually get a new team in the guise of the Avalanche. So how did Colorado’s new team fare against the Colorado of yore (now the Devils). In the regular season, New Jersey has defeated the Avalanche 12 times and lost nine games (one of which was a shootout loss). In the post-season however, the Avs hold the edge at 4-3, which carries with it the additional bragging rights of having beaten New Jersey for the Stanley Cup in 2001. That said, both have won the Cup more than once, and though New Jersey lost to Colorado in one of those Finals, the Devils have won the Cup three times to just two for the Avs. Based on the number of total Cup wins and the all-time record, if one had to pick the winner here, we would have to say that it is the Old Colorado (the Devils) that has bested the new Colorado (the Avs).
The last remaining head-to-head matchup between old and new would have to include the games played between the older and newer Minnesota franchises. The Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993. Since that time, they played the new Minnesota club (the Wild, founded four years later in 1997) 41 times. Once again, it is the old franchise besting the new. The Dallas Stars defeated the Wild 23 times against 17 losses and one draw. What is more, the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999. The Wild have not won a Cup.
Taken together, the former or old city/regionally-based teams in the NHL have an overall record of 51-37-2 against the newest (replacement teams) in those locations. What is more, the former teams based in those regions have won the Stanley Cup five times as compared to just two titles for the newest franchises in those same markets.
If we go far enough back, we may be able to draw more comparisons between teams that were formerly in one media market versus the newest teams to be placed in that region. However, for the purposes of this post, the eight aforementioned teams gives us enough of a sample size.
Though all of this is meaningless, for what it is worth, it would appear as though an NHL market fares best when they can keep their original team in one location. If a city sees a team leave town and a new one arrives years later, it is pretty much a wash as to whether that city’s new team does well (we see mixed results among Colorado, Minnesota, Winnipeg, and Atlanta). Meanwhile, any region or media market that is graced by a team that has chosen to relocate there seems to fare quite well over the long haul (Calgary, New Jersey, Dallas). The only exception there is Phoenix, which has been a mixed bag with very little playoff success.
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