The blood feuding between Jim Balsille, Gary Bettman and now Jerry Moyes has an honourable end. If the NHL won't go to Southern Ontario because of the potential financial damage to the Leafs and Sabres, The Coyotes should just go back where they came from.
They need to go back to Winnipeg.
For all those who believe this idea is full of crap, hear me out.
The arguments against such a move are usually the following:
Winnipeg is too small.
Winnipeg never supported the team with butts in the seats.
There isn't enough corporate support.
The MTS Centre is too small.
The NHL's Salary Cap keeps rising to points where the Jets could not be profitable.
I don't agree. Not anymore, with 13 years of sober second thought.
The Jets left in 1996 because there was no arena suitable for an NHL team. Yet fans still came and made the old barn one of the loudest around.
While no Stanley Cup games were ever won there, there were historic games involving the Winnipeg Jets during a time when they had one of the best teams in the game.
While the MTS Centre would be one of the smallest in the league, it would be one that's filled to capacity now that the NHL's been gone for 13 years, just like in Minnesota. If concert attendance is any indication, I would expect 15,000 paying customers a night and that's better than a lot of existing franchises get. Prior to the recent surge in interest in Boston, were competitive with an Original Six franchise and a couple of others . And it's better than Phoenix actually gets now.
To be fair, there were nights where attendance dipped to around 9,000, when it was -40 C without the wind chill when the franchise's future was in doubt, but I'd bet no less than 90 per cent of those people PAID FULL PRICE for their tickets. Try that in Phoenix 90 per cent of the time.
Any argument that Winnipeg is simply too small to support an NHL team probably needs to look at the example of a pretty successful corporation.
Maybe you've heard of it. Ikea.
Stats Canada says the metro area is 712,000 people as of 2007 and shows slow growth every year since 1991, save for 1997, the year of the Flood of the Century. After years of saying Winnipeg needed 1 million people for a store to be profitable, Ikea has decided to set up shop in the city. That's a pretty significant change of heart for a multinational that makes billions in profits.
They aren't the only ones making such a move.
In Ikea's case, they probably figured out that people in the Canadian prairies will drive longer distances if they want something because they are more accustomed to doing it. People living 90 minutes from city limits will buy season tickets for the Jets. This may not apply in Winnipeg itself, as some people won't drive across the city for a date. But people REALLY love hockey in this neck of the woods.
As for corporate support, I can't argue with economics. Southern Ontario has more corporate dollars. With roughly 12 million people to serve, there will be. But here's another kicker. Car companies are hurting. Steel mills are hurting. Manitoba's economy has not suffered like others. And there's simply enough proof out there that the city can support the team and make money at it. That's better than several other places already on the map.
But logic may not win this argument with Mr Bettman. Arrogance will.