Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Franchise relocation -- no more former WHA teams

When the discusson of an NHL team relocating to Kansas City comes up, inevitably Hartford, Quebec City and Winnipeg enter the discussion. "Those teams moved, why wouldn't a current NHL team move?", one might say.

Anyone that says that knows nothing about the history of the NHL and its cantakorous relationship with the former WHA.

The WHA, from 1972 to 1979, was a legitimate threat to the NHL. It was not like the WFL or USFL in football. These teams were stocked full of talent, offered multi-million dollar salaries (unheard of at the time in the NHL) and did not recognize the reserve clause, which made the league very appealing to NHL stars like Bobby Hull and Rick Dudley (oh, how my heart broke when Rick Dudley left the Buffalo Sabres for the Cincinnati Stingers).

The WHA also scouted internationally at a time when the NHL was made up of mostly Canadian and French-Canadian players.

The multi-million dollar salaries were the biggest source of contention. NHL owners weren't ready to offer that kind of money to Canadian farm boys.

For the first several years, the NHL owners did nothing...assuming the WHA would fold. When it didn't fold, merger negotations began.

In 1979, the NHL absorbed four of the remaining six teams (buying out the other two).

The old guard NHL owners never wanted to be in Hartford, Quebec City and Winnipeg in the first place. After each former WHA franchise was sold, the NHL didn't stand in the way of moves to Raleigh, Denver and Phoenix -- expanding the NHL's US footprint and washing the league of WHA remnants.

The 27 cities that comprise the current NHL were all hand-picked markets. The NHL chose to go into Columbus, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Anaheim, Nashville, St. Paul and Ottawa through recent expansion. Other markets were considered at the time each expansion franchise was chosen, including Oklahoma City.

These cities were strategically chosen and the NHL won't quickly abandon them like they did the cities that came to the NHL through a rival league.

You see...bringing up the relocation of former WHA cities is not relevant when discussing the potential relocation of a current team to KC.

The most recent franchise move that is relevant is the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas. That move appeased both a greedy owner and a league that wanted to enter a burgeoning metro area, Dallas-Fort Worth. And, in the end, the NHL realized the error of not having a team in the one of its best U.S. metro areas and gave Minneapolis-St. Paul another opportunity to get into the NHL.


At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tampa and Ottawa.....strategic??

Those two were willing to pay the 50 million expansion fee while the others were not. That is the only thing that the decision was based on...nothing else.


At 11:39 AM, Blogger KCHockeyBuzz said...


I accept that. But, neither is moving anytime soon because both team owners also own the arena in which the teams play.

At 2:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NHL screwed up by expanding to Ottawa. I always have to hear about markets such as Ottawa (who got lucky that a rich owner came to help em) and edmonton (who are the equivalent to the Green Bay packers in terms of ownership) into the league. These cities are small and have problems. Two teams in florida was not a good move either nor is phoenix where sports in general aren't really revered. If they had to do it all over again they should have expanded to Indiana, Seattle, Milwaukee, and portland. KC was not given a chance, and the rockies should have never moved to NJ. The NJ experiment should be finished, NJ cannot support pro teams that's why the Nets are moving to brooklyn and the devils cannot draw unless it is the finals or if they are playing the Rangers.

Wisconsin is a great hockey state they should have a team, and it would work under the cap and new economics.

I think KC would be a good city when it comes to hockey to be honest. St Louis is a very underrated hockey town and I think a good KC/Stlouis rivalry would be good.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger KCHockeyBuzz said...

I understand US fans bias against small Canadian markets. But, the NHL absolutely belongs in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. The Senators attendance history proves they are an NHL city.

The NHL couldn't stop John McMullen from moving the Rockies to a new arena in East Rutherford.

Why would the NHL end the NJ experiment when they will be playing in a new building in downtwon Newark in a couple of years?

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Max said...

Bring back the WHA! Quebec, Winnipeg, Hartford, add Kansas City, Milwaukee, Seattle, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, you got yourself a league!


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