Gretzky: Sabres and Leafs to blame for no team in Southern Ontario

Interesting that this story hasn’t been picked up too many places, so I will bring it your attention on a muggy Saturday afternoon.

Not in the sports section, but in the first section was a pretty interesting article about another NHL team in the GTA. When the Predators where said to be in play and Jim Balsillie (RIM) was hoping to try to bring the team to Hamilton, conventional wisdom was that Bettman was the guy killing the deal. Lots of folks, where of the opinion that Bettman is very anti-Canadian (and Balsillie for that matter) and that a team won’t be coming anywhere near Toronto or Canada for that matter.

Wayne Gretzky, who is clearly an ambassador for the game despite his status as coach of the Coyotes, was in Toronto giving a speech to some business folks yesterday shed some light on the situation:

“”There is an issue with ownership in Buffalo and Toronto,”

Gretzky went a little further:

“The coach and co-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes told a Toronto business audience that, contrary to what many hockey fans believe, New York-based National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman is not against relocating a team to Hamilton or Kitchener. The two franchises that draw fans and corporate support from the region are blocking such a move, said the league’s nine-time MVP. The 47-year-old hockey executive explained that the Leafs and Sabres have territorial rights, and haven’t been afraid to use them. Mr. Gretzky added: “Gary Bettman has a warm spot in his heart for Canada.”

Personally, I think its a sham that we don’t have another team in the golden horseshoe. I think that if the New York area can have 3 and the LA area can have 2, there is no reason this market can also have 2. I do, however think that a team in Hamilton would be more detrimental to the Sabres then it would to the Leafs. I was in DC when Peter Angelos made all the arguments against the Nationals coming to Washington. He too had territorial issues and was appeased with the type of deal he got from MLB and the nationals. There are lots of creative things that the NHL and whomever would own the team could to please the Buds and the Sabres.

An interesting read to be sure, not surprising that the 2 teams are fighting, more surprising that they are winning. Should be interesting to watch down the road, but I don’t think it is going to happen any time soon unfortunately.

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