Over the past few weeks there has been plenty of buzz about the potential relocation of some of the NHL’s more tenuous franchises. The focus of rumors is the Phoenix Coyotes, whose future in the Grand Canyon State looks to be short-term and on a shortened lifeline.
Recent news suggests that an arena will be built in Seattle which could easily house the Coyotes– or any other relocating or expansion franchises, for that matter. Other cities involved in the relocation mix include the usual suspects of Quebec City, Kansas City and Las Vegas.
There is a darkhorse, though, that few have considered: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
According to reports, the city of Saskatoon and the governmental body of Saskatchewan has approached the NHL with interest in fielding a relocated or expansion NHL franchise. Before you giggle, it’s important to consider that Saskatoon has a population of 250,000 and houses an NHL-ready facility, the 15,800 seat Credit Union Centre. Beyond the logistical fit, the citizens of Saskatchewan– and Saskatoon in particular– are hockey crazy.
In fact, the city almost landed the St. Louis Blues who considered relocation in the early 1980s but balked and decided to stay put in Missouri as talks began to break down.
As the NHL considers its future, wouldn’t it make more sense for the league to return to its roots and put more teams back in Canada? Sure, there have been a few expansion successes in the U.S., but there have been just as many failures.
To add a team in Saskatoon may be a risk, but it’s a calculated one given the country’s and region’s passion for the game of hockey, and just as importantly, the general dearth of competition for the town’s entertainment dollar.
Saskatoon Coyotes doesn’t have much of a ring to it, but I’m sure they could find a much more fitting name.