SUN Hockey Pool

Hamilton not OK, NHL prefers felons

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:06 AM ET

Jim Balsillie is only half right, as he insists upon moving a NHL franchise to Hamilton.

Southern Ontario is the "unserved hockey market" he calls it, but Hamilton is not the proper place for an NHL team. It could work as a stopgap, while waiting for another facility to be built.

But I agree with Gary Bettman: Hamilton is not the best location for an NHL franchise.

The best location for a second team in southern Ontario is Toronto. The second-best location is western Ontario, somewhere in the highly populated area of Guelph-Kitchener-Cambridge, where there is significantly more business and money than there is in the Hamilton area.

Assuming that the majority of ticket-holders would be from the Greater Toronto and the western Ontario area, the location of Copps Coliseum, not to mention the inadequacies of the facility, make it very difficult as a permanent NHL home. The drive from the GTA to Hamilton for a 7:30 p.m. weekday game would bring new meaning to the word onerous. Anyone who has sat in that QEW traffic understands.

While Balsillie has to clear many legal obstacles to get where he wants to be, if he does end up with the Phoenix Coyotes, here's hoping the consideration of Hamilton is strictly for the short term.

This and that

So here's how it works in Mr. Bettman's NHL: You falsify documents, defraud banks, run shell games with financial institutions, fake having money, and if you do it well enough, they make you chairman of the board of governors, as Bruce McNall was. Reading the details of the Boots Del Biaggio guilty plea for fraud reads like McNall Light. Phony documents, a Ponzi scheme, and stealing from the bank his own father started, and to think, Bettman wants nothing to do with BlackBerry king Balsillie, who has real money, when under his watch as commissioner five different NHL owners have gone to jail or are about to go to jail ... On NHL radio, Red Wings star Henrik Zetterburg was asked from Anaheim if he was watching the other playoff series on television: His answer: No, because his hotel didn't have Versus ... Meanwhile, Game 4 of the Caps-Pens all-time series was the 81st most-watched cable program on American television that night. The most-watched show was the NBA playoff game, Lakers vs. Rockets: Six million watching the NBA on ESPN and just 647,000 watching Sidney Crosby on Versus.

Hear and there

Johan Franzen of the Wings has scored 21 goals in his past 27 playoff games, which are all-time kind of numbers: Rocket Richard once scored 19 goals in 20 playoff games over two seasons ... Yes, Andrea Bargnani improved greatly in his third NBA season. But no, he was the wrong choice at No.1 in the 2006 Draft. The sixth pick in that draft, Brandon Roy now of the Portland Blazers, was deservedly voted to the NBA's second all-star team. Don't know if Bargnani will ever be considered an all-star ... Add the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat to the long list of teams coveting Chris Bosh, should he be made available ... A quick Bosh Twitter update, for those who require matters of such importance. Bosh asks: "Why is Subway always so stingy with their olives?" ... If David Wells is to believed, which is a topic all its own, today is the 11th anniversary of his perfect game, thrown with a hangover ... Jay Triano should earn more from the first two years of this contract coaching the Raptors -- his third year isn't guaranteed -- than he has earned in his entire coaching career to date. Word around the NBA is that Triano will get close to $4 million for the first two years of his Raptors deal.

Scene and heard

Walter Gretzky, father of the Coyotes' coach, can't see hockey lasting in Phoenix. "How can it? They don't have any fans," Walter said at Rogers Centre the other day. "If you can't sell tickets, you have to move." ... In a San Francisco Chronicle rating of all 30 major league stadiums, Rogers Centre was listed as 29th and described as having the look and feel of a "gigantic airplane hangar."

And another thing

The more Mats Sundin plays the Brett Favre game, the less anyone will care about him ... Michael Vick gets out of prison Wednesday. Dogs everywhere should be protesting ... Some salaries make no sense: Three-time Super Bowl champ Bill Belichick earns $5 million US a year, same as first-year Seattle coach Jim Mora, with a 26-22 career record ... Patrick Roy will be the next Colorado Avalanche coach. Bet on it ... Happy Birthday to Sugar Ray Leonard (53) ... And hey, whatever became of Behn Wilson?

STEVE.SIMMONS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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