Hi, all! I hope everyone enjoyed the nice week-long vacation from having to read what we usually post (though I suspect that the shiny wore off after a little bit), and just as nice of Labor Day weekend. But, alas, work is on the horizon again and frankly, I don't think there's a day off until Turkey Day (well, the Monday before for me, but still...)... so time to get our noses to the grindstone and do something productive, huh?
I was going to write this week's TWH last week, and then suddenly remembered I was going on sabbatical, so this might not be as relevant as it was a little while ago. But with the issues going on with the Phoenix Coyotes, the constant speculation about other teams in wonky markets, and the drive for Canada to get a team back, I guess this is going to be a relevant topic for a while. So, here goes - does hockey need to stay put in traditional markets, or should we share the love?
But it doesn't even snow there!
The concept of a hockey team in the "sun belt" makes some people's stomach churn. Hockey is a traditional Canadian sport that spread to the northern US in communities where it gets 49 below in the winter time, and all you need is a hose to make a rink. Canadians feel like they own the legacy of the sport, and with the great teams and players that have come out of the country in the past 100 years, that argument seems fairly legit. Yes, there are horrible interlopers like Americans who think they can play (Mike Modano, Walt, and JR - I'm looking at you) and Europeans with their weenie visors skating around and picking up the Stanley Cup. But, the heart of the game is Canadian. Not all, but a sizeable majority of people from Canada, would like nothing more than to drag the 'Yotes to Hamilton where they "belong" (never mind that they left Winnipeg because of no funding and lack of support, but whatever). Teams like Tampa Bay, Carolina, Florida, Atlanta, and Phoenix challenge the argument that they called dibsies on hockey a long time ago.
The concept of having a hockey team in the middle of a desert is just odd anyway. And one in Miami? No way. Teams need to be where it's freezing cold and bleak. Suffer for your art!
What's that, you say... teams in non-traditional markets have won the what? Wait... What? How many times in the past how many years? Hm.
Share the Love!
There are other people (mostly fans in the markets I mentioned above) who go nuclear when you mention their teams as a candidate for re-location. Phoenix has a small but dedicated group of fans - and a lot of snowbirds. Tampa Bay has actually seen pretty good success with their team, winning the 2004 Stanley Cup - but the fans have lost interest since the circus rolled into town, and their team fell from grace. Does that have to do with the weather? Naah. It's the simple adage that good teams draw fans. Florida hasn't made it to the playoffs for quite a while, so their attendance is shaky. Atlanta was one of the top draws in 2006-2007 in the league (which no one mentions because that ruins their idea that hockey in the South can't work), but the last two years have been unsuccessful, so it's been tough to get fans in the seats unless the team goes on a winning streak. These teams are always pointed at as reasons that hockey doesn't work in wonky markets.
And then you have the LA Kings. And Anaheim Ducks. And San Jose Sharks. And Carolina Hurricanes... and... well, you get the picture. These teams are never mentioned in discussions about if hockey works south of whatever parallel cuts the nation in half. Why? Because they blow the whole theory. Canes fans (despite me making fun of them - even though what I said in the photo caption is true) are amazing. Obnoxious. They stalk their team on roadtrips They overwhelm other arenas - while still managing to be fairly nice. They're probably the loudest damn fans in the league since they have to compete with the NASCAR race down the road.
So... there are successful teams in the South, and those are the ones who win. There are unsuccessful teams in the South, and those are the ones who don't win. Hm. There's something going on here... but I'm not quite catching it. Something about location not determining something... weird. I lost it.
Commenters, what do you think about the situation in Phoenix and hockey in nontraditional markets? Let us know down below.