Toronto deserves two NHL teams

STEVE SIMMONS, Steve Simmons, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Before it happens -- if it ever happens -- there will be about a million different stories detailing the levels of interest in a second NHL franchise in Toronto.

All of them should be taken seriously.

Because it should happen. Because it makes sense. Because an NHL with the Toronto Panthers instead of a Florida team, or the Toronto Coyotes instead of a Phoenix team is a stronger league. You can make the same case with Atlanta, Tampa Bay and the Islanders.

Never mind Hamilton or Waterloo as possible sites for a team. Those are secondary markets. If there is to be a second team in Southern Ontario, it should be in the NHL's strongest market. The time isn't right; it's now overdue.

It may be quaint for commissioner Gary Bettman to fight for his markets -- and never mind that at least eight NHL teams are either for sale or in some sort of financial difficulty -- but his job is to grow the league and make it the most financially viable it can be. A second Toronto franchise guarantees that.

These days, what else can you guarantee?

Hear and there

So how does this work corporately? Rogers, the company that owns the Blue Jays, won't put TSN2 on its cable. But it will put Blue Jays games there, including a high profile Red Sox series. Please explain ... After watching Mike Green and Joe Thornton in the playoffs, can't imagine how either will earn a place on Canada's 2010 Olympic team. The better the hockey gets, the more invisible they become. You can get your offence from the back end with Dan Boyle and Scott Niedermayer without having to gamble on Green ... On the other hand, can't imagine a Canadian team without the incredible Niedermayer, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry of the Ducks. In fact, wouldn't Rick Nash fit in perfectly on a line with Getzlaf and Perry? ... Now we know what's wrong with the Senators: They don't play enough games against Belarus ... Sunday stat: That powder keg named Milton Bradley is batting .043. He has been suspended for one more game (2), than he has hits (1) ... The resignation of Toronto FC coach John Carver means that the Blue Jays, Argos, Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Rock have all changed coaches within the past 12 months.

This and that

Silly and petty that Bob Gainey is blaming Tampa GM Brian Lawton for disrupting his season. Why not blame the players who were hanging with mobsters, impregnating youngsters, getting their pictures splashed all over the Internet in various states and then not performing. Why not blame himself? By the way, a year ago at the trade deadline, when the Leafs were trying to trade Mats Sundin to Montreal, somebody in the Canadiens organization leaked the names of Christopher Higgins and Mikhail Grabovski as players that were intended to go to Toronto in the deal. Don't remember Gainey calling that disgraceful or disruptive then, with the Canadiens in first place... The one-time Maple Leafs stiff Nik Antropov has made himself into quite the player. He will be a free-agent prize of sorts in July, if he doesn't re-sign with the Rangers before that ... Aaron Hill is in the top 10 of every important offensive category in the American League. He doesn't have Roberto Alomar's smoothness around the bag or his instincts, but this kid could rival Texas' Ian Kinsler as the top second baseman for years ... It's a joke that Drew Doughty was not among the finalists for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. Do the voters have curfew and not watch the West Coast games?

Scene and heard

Now, we're not saying that John Tavares is anything close to the next Mario Lemieux, but the scrutiny of the two players in their final junior seasons has a certain similarity. Lemieux was so over-analyzed that some scouts were projecting Kirk Muller, the No. 2 pick, as the better pro. Now, what's interesting is that Brampton's Matt Duchene, younger than Tavares, and in his second major junior season rather than his fourth, has outperformed Tavares in the playoffs. Some are now saying Duchene will be the better pro ... David Poile has been an NHL GM for 26 seasons and never has won a Stanley Cup ... Memo to Olympic hero Eric Lamaze: We know you can jump fences with your horse, but it does get a little more challenging when you try to do it with a car ... After watching that great catch by converted pitcher Rick Ankiel, I got to wondering how Adam Loewen was doing: Turns out he made his minor-league debut in the outfield for Dunedin Friday night and went 1-for-3 with a walk ... A quick Twitter update: Charlie Villanueva is having a busy day.

And another thing

Jay Triano's status as coach of the Raptors will not be finalized until after the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., board meets on May 8, at which time GM Bryan Colangelo will put forth his plans for the coming season and assure one and all that he does like his roster, even if nobody else does ... Colangelo says he needs some sandpaper and toughness: If that's the case, why not gamble on free-agent veteran Ron Artest? ... What B.J. Ryan doesn't get: The less he is willing to explain what is wrong with him and how it happened, the more he leaves himself open for second-guessing and speculation ... Two things I don't understand about the Carolina Panthers: 1. They sign quarterback Jake Delhomme to a five-year extension. 2. They have an interest in J.P. Losman as his backup ... Born this date: Hack Wilson and Sal "The Barber" Maglie. Happy Birthday to Amos Otis (62), Carol Burnett (76), Pat Ribble (55), Bill Wennington (46) and Kane (42) ... And hey, whatever became of Harold Snepsts?

STEVE.SIMMONS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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