Report on NHL team relocation flawed

STEVE MACFARLENE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:41 PM ET

CALGARY - Pardon my French, but after checking out a list of The Business Journals' list of the best candidates for NHL expansion or relocation, my instant reaction was: "Quoi?!?"

(Translation for even less fluent fellow Canadians: "What?!?")

In a clear case of nerdy number-crunching gone horribly wrong, the outrageous report shows what happens when you take common sense, history and rational human though out of a 'study' and leave it to the brains of a computer, or mathematically minded human being posing as one.

Quebec City -- easily the most logical destination for the next NHL team to call home, either because the league believes it needs to grow or because one of its already flailing franchises needs to be transplanted -- was way down that list.

Ranked No. 31 of 58 North American cities on the list that ranks them from "sufficient" to "borderline" and finally "insufficient," the former home of the Nordiques falls in the middle category.

Hamilton was down there, too, ranked 33rd behind places like Honolulu, Hawaii, Orlando, Fla., and Tulsa, Okla.

Meanwhile, Atlanta -- land of a pair of former NHL franchises that now call Calgary and Winnipeg home -- was just outside of the top 10 in 11th spot thanks to what the study estimates as a US$51.8-billion available income base -- the amount earned by all of its residents in 2010.

As entertaining as random studies like this one can sometimes be, anyone who takes the results seriously is as nutty as the person who decided to put it together, or maybe even the guy who decided to write about it.

Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., ranks first, with Houston a close second.

Las Vegas, Virginia Beach, and Providence are also in the top 10.

Based on disposable income, there's no way the Jets would be back in Manitoba. Yet they sold out their season tickets in a matter of minutes (17 of them), and without even debuting their new jersey, the team's gear is the league's most popular sales item at the moment.

It's easy to imagine a similar scene when the Nordiques -- or whatever name the new Quebec franchise may be given -- eventually make their long-awaited return to Canada.

One thing the Business Journals study gets right is a brief sentence near the bottom of the writeup, where it says other factors would be considered, such as an area's passion for hockey.

Indeed, Canadian cities have that in abundance.

You may argue both Winnipeg and Quebec have already lost franchises of their own. But it wasn't because of a lack of passion from the fans. The business of hockey was broken, and the salary cap era has fixed the model.

If financial numbers like those in this study were the sole basis for the NHL's future plans, we may never see another team north of the border.

Well, until places like Atlanta prove money isn't all that matters when it comes to the feasibility of a hockey franchise.

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Here's our list of five North American cities in which we'd like to see an NHL team

1. Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

2. Hamilton, Ontario

3. Seattle, Wash.

4. Hartford, Conn.

5. Saskatoon, Sask.

The Business Journals' Top 10 markets for NHL expansion/relocation:

1. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.

2. Houston, Texas

3. Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn.

4. Las Vegas, Nev.

5. Virginia Beach-Norfolk, Va.

6. Providence, RI

7. Austin, Texas

8. Hartford, Conn.

9. Sacramento, Calif.

10. Richmond, Va.


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