Peruse any Internet article referencing relocation or expansion and fans post in droves with suggestions of cities that should and should not be home to NHL teams.
Now you can include some players chiming in on the subject.
“If those teams hurt us and can go somewhere else and do better, why not?” Wild center Eric Belanger told John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Added Andrew Brunette: “There’s obviously enough interest in other parts of Canada, especially. There should be another team in Toronto. I know there are legal issues in terms of distance between teams, but for the betterment of the game, I definitely think there should be another team there. I think it would drive revenues up.”
And Derek Boogaard: “One of the three teams down South could maybe move up North, if not into Canada, one of the Northern states, that’s for sure. I think that would do well.”
While the exact financial figures are not known, it’s widely accepted that Canada’s six teams account for 30 to 40 percent of the league’s revenue.
According to ESPN.com, each of the NHL’s clubs north of the 49th parallel average capacity crowds, with the exception of Edmonton, which averages 98.5 percent.
Conversely, two of the four bottom dwellers in terms of fans come from “Sunbelt” markets: Atlanta (71.5 percent) and Florida (78.3 percent). Columbus sits 29th at 77.1 percent and New Jersey sits 28th at 77.6 percent.
It’s important to note, however, that these percentages are the number of tickets issued, not the actual number of butts in seats.
So when the NHL says it’s setting “attendance” records – like they suggest happened during the month of October – it’s about as real as the Islanders’ playoff hopes.
GO ON, TAKE THE LOW ROAD
In the wake of Alexander Semin’s comments about him being overrated, Sidney Crosby decided to take the high road and not get into a battle of words.
“I’d be better off keeping my opinion to myself, I think,” Crosby said Tuesday. “He can say what he wants, but I’ll keep mine to myself about him.”
The Kid has always been one to play it safe in the media, but wouldn’t it be refreshing and, more importantly, headline-grabbing if he came out guns-a-blazing, telling Semin and the rest of the Caps where they can stick it?
It isn’t Crosby’s job alone to grow the NHL, but as the main face and voice of the league, giving fans something to talk about – as Semin did last week and as Sean Avery does every time he opens his mouth – would go a long way towards turning on new fans and reinvigorating those whose interest may be waning.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog normally appears Thursdays.
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