With all the talk about what the fate of the Coyotes will be after today's hearing and the likely appeals on any decisions, I decided to put my two cents in on the argument.
With or without Jim Balsillie, the NHL will not be successful with a team in Hamilton, Ontario. This is not an attack on the dedicated hockey fans of Canada. In my honest opinion the league should add two new teams and both should be located in Canada. The problem is entirely with the location of the team.
While Hamilton itself may prove to be a great hockey market, there are greater things to consider for the NHL if it were to relocate any of its teams. The first thing to consider is the area in which Hamilton is located. Sitting to the west of Lake Ontario, Hamilton is roughly halfway between Toronto and Buffalo. Both cities currently have NHL franchises that would likely lose some of their fan base if another team is added to the region.
The other issue I have with the location is that Ontario does not need another professional hockey team. Basillie continues to attempt to point to an “underserved market” in talking about moving the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, but what about Hamilton makes it underserved? As already mentioned, Hamilton is about halfway between Toronto and Buffalo. Toronto and Hamilton both have American Hockey League teams.
And in case the availability of professional teams isn’t enough, Hamilton is surrounded by Ontario Hockey League franchises. The OHL is one of the premier junior leagues and, though it isn’t the NHL, many of its top players will eventually play in the NHL.
Now, Phoenix may or may not be the right place for a team either. There isn’t much ice in Arizona. But I don’t see the need to put a third NHL team in Ontario when there are other markets that don’t have teams. Why Hamilton when there is not a single NHL team in the entire province of Newfoundland? Manitoba hasn’t had a team since the departure of the Winnipeg Jets, and Gary Bettman has left the door open for a possible return in his latest statements. Saskatchewan is without a pro franchise too.
To be clear, I am not saying these are ideal markets because I honestly don’t know. What I am saying is that Jim Balsillie is using pointless arguments in his attempts to run and end-around on the league. There are other markets in Canada that are far more underserved than Hamilton that won’t be in direct competition with other existing franchises.
I have nothing against Canada and I agree with Eklund's comments that there should be two more teams up north at least. But I cannot support one of those teams being in the Ontario province. This appears to be a great hockey market, but at what cost to other nearby franchises? How will the Montreal Canadians and their AHL affiliate in Hamilton be affected? How will the OHL be affected? These are all questions that need to be answered with serious studies that will take at least one or two years.