More for Canada?
Wow. Now this is news.
Sidney Crosby shills for Reebok and he loves the NHL's new uniforms.
But hold it, doesn't Reebok make those uniforms?
Ah, now I get it.
The NHL's annual trade show, which used to be the all-star game, opens this week in Texas, and convincing people that the NHL garb they own is obsolete will be a big part of it.
But isn't it interesting how expansion has suddenly crept into polite NHL conversation of late?
Maybe I'm wrong on this. Maybe, hopefully, Gary Bettman will publicly renounce the mere thought of adding more teams this week. After all, the league just straightened out its finances and its game coming out of the lockout, and still has any number of franchise problems to work out.
But the suspicion is the league is working on expansion as we speak.
To anyone who loves the game, of course, the immediate response is to throw up at the mere thought of adding more teams to the Original 30.
Certainly, the fact that adding nine teams in nine years coincided with a dreadful period of the sport, including two lockouts, is enough to suggest that the Bettman adminstrations expansion record is checkered at best.
From 21 teams, the league added San Jose, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Florida, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota and Columbus.
Of those franchises, the Sharks and Wild have been very successful, while the Sens and Lightning have survived very difficult financial problems to survive and flourish over time.
But adding teams at a time when the third and fourth lines of teams already look AHL calibre many nights anyway is simply a recipe for further dilution of the product.
But with between $250-300 million at stake for two more franchises - Jim Balsillie was willing to pay $175 million U.S. - and with all that money excluded from the revenues the league's owners have to share with the players, you can bet these "custodians" of the game will push for it anyway.
The union won't make a peep in protest, of course, but it would mean expanding their membership, something that would help Ted Saskin fight off the rebels in his midst.
Now, if the NHL governors are smart - a very big if - there's one easy way available to them to sooth the savage bleatings of hardcore hockey fans if they plan to expand, a way to candy-coat this bitter pill.
Promise one of the new teams will be based in Canada.
All of us who reside in the Great White North would ldearly love to see a seventh NHL team, or even two more to get us back up to the number we used to have before the loss of Quebec City and Winnipeg.
Just look at the widespread enthusiasm that followed Balsillie's failed pursuit of the Penguins just because of the possibility he'd move the team to Kitchener-Waterloo.
Even if it meant expansion, many Canadians would be prepared to look the other way if it meant the NHL was coming back to the country with a new team.
K-W. Winnipeg. Quebec City. A second team in Toronto (the best idea).
That would neutralize many critics, and give the NHL the convenient platform to argue it isn't expanding because of greed, but because of the enormous pent-up demand (in Canada) for their wonderful game.
And wonderful new uniforms.
Adding teams anywhere would be a terrible idea.
But the NHL is always about "the sell."
And that's how they could sell it. Sidney Crosby would probably even help.