SUN Hockey Pool

Greed behind expansion push

SCOTT MORRISON, FOR SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Like the idea or not, think it will ever happen or not, there's a very logical and obvious reason why a couple of NHL governors would kick around the idea of putting an expansion franchise in Toronto.

Money, of course.

Everybody knows that.

Think about it. A year or so ago when the economy was strong, there was all sorts of speculation that the NHL, when it deemed the time was right, would expand by a couple of teams, with one of the destinations of choice being Las Vegas, where television mogul Jerry Bruckheimer and friends were supposedly ready to spend crazy money, upward of $300-million US, for a franchise.

Heck, Bruckheimer even called the Anaheim Ducks to ask permission to speak with, you got it, Brian Burke, to see if he might be interested in heading up a new franchise if they got it, when Burke's contract expired, of course.

The Ducks, by the way, denied them permission, so it isn't just the Maple Leafs.

None of that is going to happen any time soon, of course, except for the part about Burke's contract expiring. But if there was the possibility of getting big-time money from Las Vegas, one could only wonder what the NHL could fetch from putting an expansion team in Toronto and then the subsequent revenues that would flow into the system.

And apparently that is what some NHL governors have been doing in their spare time, but it isn't a league initiative.

Now, there is the issue of whether the Leafs would oblige, or whether they can actually veto a league decision to move into their territory. But guys are allowed to have dollar signs dancing in their heads, right?

EASY MONEY

Expansion money isn't shared with the players, it goes straight into the pockets of the owners. So it makes sense that a few governors, no doubt lamenting the economic state of the world, figured out an easy way to make some money.

Whether this is merely a pipe dream for a handful or the seed of something that might eventually happen, it has also been suggested that expansion isn't, or shouldn't, be on the NHL radar because there are several franchises south of the border that are in financial peril. How do you expand when the existing partners aren't healthy, even if the influx of new money would offer a short-term band-aid?

NO CHANCE

Know this: There is no chance a second team is going to pop up in Toronto and vicinity without expansion. And given the economy and the sliding Canadian dollar, if there is to be another team in this country period it will be somewhere near Toronto. However, not everyone is convinced that a second team will be the roaring economic success the Leafs have been.

Anyway, relocation might seem a better way to go, but that doesn't put big, new money into the coffers. It's that simple. Allowing a Jim Balsillie, or whomever, to buy an existing franchise and relocate it to Toronto (which isn't necessarily where Balsillie would prefer to go), doesn't feed the pockets of the partners, other than the indemnification the Maple Leafs would receive.

IN AND OUT

It wouldn't be a surprise, then, if a couple of governors haven't also kicked around the idea of expansion with contraction, meaning grab the new money, add one or two teams and if you ultimately lose one or two troubled teams in the process, so be it, the bottom line remains the same.

Except for the bottom line that really matters, of course, all that new money.

Not that it is going to happen any time soon, either.


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