The NHL was determined to keep the team in Phoenix, a city that in 14 years hasn't fully embraced, the idea of ice hockey in the desert. And with the dream season the Arizona Cardinals had, I doubt Arizonians will have ice hockey on their minds this coming winter.
This morning I received an e-mail from Lauren Robb of Winnepeg, Manitoba. Mr. Robb created the website Winnipeg Jets Online.Com (http://www.winnipegjetsonline.com/) with the hope that someday it can help influence the NHL to return to Winnipeg. After all the Phoenix Coyotes were once the Winnipeg Jets, an original expansion team since the World Hockey League began play in 1972. The WHL would later merge with the NHL in 1979.
In his site, Mr. Robb writes: "Winnipeg hockey fans, whose hearts were ripped out when their beloved Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes over a decade ago, are crossing their fingers in hopes the financially strapped NHL franchise could be returning to Canada."
Mr. Robb would love nothing more than to have a team in Winnipeg, but he is an ambassador for more Canadian teams in general. And quite frankly, I think the NHL should listen to him. An article by the Canadian Press states that 31% of NHL ticket revenue come from the 6 Canadian teams. In other words, 6 Canadian teams out of 30 total NHL teams bring in almost one-third its ticket revenue. Can someone please tell me what the NHL is thinking with this massive expansion in the U.S.
Here's an excerpt from Mr. Robb's e-mail to me:
Good Morning Jose!
It's quite unsettling that Bettman is trying so, so hard to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix. Where was that drive, that passion when the Jets were in trouble.
The good thing to come out of all of this is that many Canadian cities have raised their hand, during all this mess, stating that they're interested in housing an NHL team. This might open up the eyes of the other failing Southern teams that may be looking for a way out.
Time will only tell. I would absolutely love to have NHL hockey back in Winnipeg but, I would support the move North for any NHL franchise be it in Hamilton, Quebec, Saskatoon, Halifax or even another team in Toronto. There are too many American teams and not enough Canadian teams.
Mr. Bettman, I hope you're listening.