Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto ain't likely to get a second NHL team

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for another NHL team to come to Toronto and nor should anyone else. In fact, I'd say the prospect of an inner-city rival to the Leafs arriving is slimmer than that of an NFL franchise coming to town on a permanent basis. That's why it seems rather silly that Toronto's economic development committee voted 3-1 earlier today to have Mayor Rob Ford write to the NHL expressing our interest in another franchise. The one dissenting vote from Michael Thompson was made because he identifies himself as "a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, diehard, blue and blue throughout."

Forgetting that one would hope that a city councillor could put aside his fandom when making decisions of this nature, the whole exercise is likely to be a big waste of time. It's not that there's isn't the fan base or that money couldn't be raised to get another arena built. If those were the only factors, the GTA would already have another team. So why don't we? Well, amongst other reasons, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Aside from the obvious reasons why the most powerful sports team in town wouldn't want a new neighbour, the NHL's regional rights mean that if a franchises sets up shop withing 80 kilometres an existing team, it'd be forced to pay compensation for lost revenue. It's tough to figure just how much this might be, but one suspects it would be enough to threaten the viability of the new entrant.

And then there's the power the Leafs wield with the NHL in general. Although the team's official comment about this latest scheme is no comment at all, you can bet they're not the least bit interested in welcoming a new team. This is so-called Leafs Nation, after all, and why in the world would ownership want to dilute what is the most lucrative hockey market in the world? So, while there have been exceptions elsewhere (the New York area supports three teams), the odds of it happening here are slim to none.

Photo by bigdaddyhame in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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