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2019-2020 NHL Thread

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Seems as though the Avs are considering bringing back the Nordiques jerseys for their 25th anniversary next season. Frankly not sure how I feel about the idea; on one hand, it'd be amazing for those iconic jerseys to see the ice again. On the other, it'd feel a bit like a kick in the balls for the Avs to trot out Nordiques throwbacks when Québec City itself still doesn't have a franchise of their own.

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3 hours ago, Ridleylash said:

Seems as though the Avs are considering bringing back the Nordiques jerseys for their 25th anniversary next season. Frankly not sure how I feel about the idea; on one hand, it'd be amazing for those iconic jerseys to see the ice again. On the other, it'd feel a bit like a kick in the balls for the Avs to trot out Nordiques throwbacks when Québec City itself still doesn't have a franchise of their own.

The Nordiques were an NHL team for 16 years. The Colorado Avalanche have been an NHL team for 25. The franchise has a much richer history as the Avalanche than they ever did as the Nordiques. If they want to throwback to those uniforms, I say go for it. 

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Silver Knights is a clever name.

 

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You start off at Silver and move your way up to Golden.

 

Could the pee-wee team that's a rank below AHL be named the Bronze Knights?

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The Bronze Knights would probably be the ECHL team.

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So today's the ninth anniversary of the day the Thrashers died. As much as I love having the Jets back as a Canadian fan, I do feel bad for the fans in Atlanta that were thoroughly :censored:ed over by Atlanta Spirit. With owners that aren't horrible and who can build an arena for them, do the Thrashers ever relocate?

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I remember that day well! I watched the press conference and everything. 

 

The Thrashers were nothing but trouble from day one. Their expansion fee gobbled up WCW's revenue at the only time in history that WCW actually made money, Turner didn't seem to care much about having a team beyond saying he had a team, they got lost in the AOL Time Warner merger from hell, Atlanta Spirit never wanted them, and then kicked them out when they were all suing each other over signing Joe Johnson and realized there was no reason for this team to waste 40+ arena dates. Everything about this team was always so desultory and half-hearted, which is to be expected when you're part of a too-big-for-its-own good conglomerate or the throw-in to some guys who wanted a basketball team. But when you consider the NHL was in Atlanta because Fox Sports had a ten-ton bug up its ass about getting into Atlanta and other big American markets, it makes sense. This wasn't about Ted Turner or someone having some singular vision of hockey greatness, there was no grassroots drive for a team, it was television executives and bean counters insisting that the league had to be in a big TV market because it's big. 

 

But if you want to do alternative history, I'll play. The best-case scenario I could see for the Thrashers would be getting snatched up by Liberty Media, maybe with Tom Glavine as a minority investor and figurehead "owner," and getting moved out to Cobb County to play in a new arena in the Braves' development, at which time they really start to market themselves as a team for suburban (read: white) Atlanta. It's a compelling what-if, but the problem is the timing. Glavine was sniffing around the Thrashers in 2011, but it was pretty well understood that he and whoever his partners were didn't really have the money, same with everyone else in town who was feigning interest in buying the team at the eleventh hour. And as we all remember, the Thrashers' situation was not the excruciatingly protracted soap opera that the Coyotes had: we hit "yeah there might be some real problems here" in February,  "this team doesn't have a place to play anymore" in mid-May, and "they moved to Winnipeg" like two or three weeks later. The Braves didn't get rolling on their souped-up office park for another two or three years. There just wasn't any interest in buying the Thrashers and building a second full-size arena in metro Atlanta, certainly not in the wake of the financial crisis, or someone would have. I also think an Atlanta NHL team would have to be a regional team like the Braves are, which is to say no Raleigh or Nashville getting in the way. 

 

I alluded to it in another thread a while ago, but the really compelling what-if is if in 2011, Glendale City Council breaks the wrong way and decides they're done paying "arena management fees" or whatever the taxpayer bailouts were called. I'd have to check the timeline to remember exactly how it all went down, but if the bottom dropped out on the Thrashers well after the council vote, the league would have been in a real mess, because no Atlanta buyers would have been options and the only other interested party I remember at the time was Quebecor, which was in the process of sprucing up the Colisee just in case anyone might need it. Would the NHL have let two Sun Belt teams move to Canada in the same summer? Would they have given up the Phoenix fight just to go to court and fight for Atlanta? or would they have just folded the team and played with 29 for a year while slapping together an expansion team for their white whale, Houston? 

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27 minutes ago, the admiral said:

Would the NHL have let two Sun Belt teams move to Canada in the same summer? Would they have given up the Phoenix fight just to go to court and fight for Atlanta? or would they have just folded the team and played with 29 for a year while slapping together an expansion team for their white whale, Houston? 

If the Coyotes go to Winnipeg, I don't know if they'd have been able to keep the Thrashers around either, what with the arena situation; would the Colisée have been considered "good enough" as a temporary measure until the Videotron was built in such a dire situation as what the Thrashers were in?

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That's the million dollar question! And I tend to think the answer would have been 'no.' Spring of 2011, there were not yet shovels in the ground for the new arena, and I don't even think the financing plan had been confirmed -- there was a lot of wrestling over how much the province would/could take on. With that in mind, it's hard to see the league agreeing to use the Colisee with no end in sight. Even four years, which is what it would have turned out to be, would have been a lot to ask. I don't think the joint ever had air conditioning. I know Quebecor did some work on the place, but I think that amounted to the same work TNSE did on the MTS Centre, which was upgrading the media infrastructure and some light cosmetic stuff (and was what tipped people off that someone was coming up), not a massive renovation. 

 

Also, while the power brokers have been on good terms with Thomson and Chipman (save for the time they were feelin' themselves too much, tried to extort too high a "relocation fee," and got peckerslapped for their troubles), I don't think they ever warmed up to P-K Peladeau and Quebecor, and certainly not whoever Kevin O'Leary was rounding up to put a team in Quebec (I think Bettman damn near hung up on him). From everything I've read, the league never liked the way the Quebecor people conducted business, which is to say a lot less discreet and tight-lipped than the league likes. Call it a cultural gap, I guess. Whenever Quebec City comes up, we hear a lot about what a friend Marcel Aubut is to Bettman and Bill Daly, but that's cheap talk; Aubut was the bumbling figurehead of a rickety consortium who sold the Nordiques to American interests and got the league out of a market they wanted to get out of anyway, so why wouldn't they be nice to him? He was always small-time. Inducting a, uh, comment dit-on, big personality like Peladeau into their ranks probably wasn't appealing. Oh, and he's a separatist. 

 

So if it were Quebec or nothing, I think there's a good chance they choose nothing. That's what they went on to do for the expansion bid!

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I feel like the Coyotes had moved back to Winnipeg the NHL would've kept the Thrashers in Atlanta while waiting for a suitable group willing to relocate not from a city named Quebec. In fact, maybe they move to Vegas after Foley puts together a group earlier and suddenly the Golden Knights are born maybe two-three years earlier. That begs the question of who gets the expansion teams, which obviously includes Seattle but could possibly have included Quebec if nothing popped up reasonably soon. The league put Quebec on indefinite hold so Seattle could their act together for an actual bid, but with Seattle as the obvious #1 and no other city that even bothered, the league might've been forced to go with Quebec, especially if the Videotron was built in time. That said, Houston might've stolen either the Thrashers or an expansion team if this reality came to pass, but it seems like they were a ways away from actively wanting a team. 

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1 hour ago, QCS said:

I feel like the Coyotes had moved back to Winnipeg the NHL would've kept the Thrashers in Atlanta while waiting for a suitable group willing to relocate not from a city named Quebec. 

 

Where would they play? Not Phillips, ASG ran the arena and wanted more lucrative events on the calendar than hockey. Would the league have stuck them in Gwinnett's ECHL barn as a lame-duck team to keep them out of Quebec? Would they have paid exorbitant rent to ASG to compensate them for losing the shows they wanted to replace the Thrashers with? How much money would they have lost on that proposition, and what do you sell an asset like that for when you so clearly want the other person to buy it more than they do?

 

I really don't know. They would have made money selling to Quebecor (think the $60MM "relocation fee" but bigger, plus eventually the market would do as well as or better than Winnipeg) but suffered a public relations black eye in having to "retreat" at a time when the American economy was not great, and then had to deal with a blowhard owner, a crumbling arena, and a French media market. It really would have been fascinating, but for the libertarians of convenience of the suburban American Southwest.

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In that scenario, I'd assume that eventually Detroit is put back into the East anyways (they were notoriously unhappy about being in the West), as is Columbus; but if Québec's already in the Northeast, where do Detroit and Columbus slot in?

 

Do you slot them both into the then-Atlantic Division? That would leave the divisions unbalanced at 7-5-5, so probably not; but both Detroit and Columbus are probably still going to want to be in the East regardless. Which means you could put Detroit in the Northeast and Columbus in the Atlantic for 6-6-5, but even that's not perfect; more manageable than 7-5-5, but still not preferable. Either way, the Southeast Division is kinda the odd duck out.

 

guess you could temporarily shift Nashville east to get a 5-5-5 East, but then you're making the West 5-5-4; which doesn't solve a damned thing, just shuffles the chairs a bit. So that's off the table.

 

I'd have to assume, if the Thrashers relocated to Québec instead of Winnipeg, the league would've just accepted a 6-6-5 set until they could remake divisions later on, like how Winnipeg spent their first year in the Southeast despite it making no geographical sense.

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You're playing with Pointless Realignment Outpost fire here, bucko.

 

 

Phoenix-to-Winnipeg flips with Denver to play with Minnesota + Western Canada, Quebec stays in the NASCAR Division as the Jets would, from there wtfk. Maybe Detroit just has to sit and take it if the league doesn't lose an Eastern Time team.

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13 hours ago, the admiral said:

 

Where would they play? Not Phillips, ASG ran the arena and wanted more lucrative events on the calendar than hockey. Would the league have stuck them in Gwinnett's ECHL barn as a lame-duck team to keep them out of Quebec? Would they have paid exorbitant rent to ASG to compensate them for losing the shows they wanted to replace the Thrashers with? How much money would they have lost on that proposition, and what do you sell an asset like that for when you so clearly want the other person to buy it more than they do?

 

I really don't know. They would have made money selling to Quebecor (think the $60MM "relocation fee" but bigger, plus eventually the market would do as well as or better than Winnipeg) but suffered a public relations black eye in having to "retreat" at a time when the American economy was not great, and then had to deal with a blowhard owner, a crumbling arena, and a French media market. It really would have been fascinating, but for the libertarians of convenience of the suburban American Southwest.

That's a good question, but I have to think the league would take control of the team temporarily while searching for new owners. Maybe they give it one more year in Philips before selling to Quebec for a stupid amount of money to make up for the rent to ASG? I'm willing to bet the league would do pretty much whatever they could to avoid putting a team back in Quebec so paying at least one year's worth of rent in Philips might've been considered worth it if they could get an ownership group put together in a preferred destination like Vegas or Houston. 

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I don't remember all the details, but I think the glitch with Houston was always that the old Rockets owner had the master lease to the Toyota Center and wasn't thrilled about hosting an NHL counterpart to the Rockets and cannibalizing the market. That was the same problem the NHL had with Seattle, except Seattle had the hilarious subterfuge of the Supersonics owner preparing an expansion bid himself just to cancel it and block anyone from doing it in good faith. Of course, Houston would have had all of Atlanta's problems -- large minority population, lots of transplants with unshakable loyalties, suburbanites who don't like to drive into the city for events because the traffic is insane -- but worse, so it's just as well. 

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Yeah, Houston wouldn't be an option. Les Alexandre was pissed about just missing out on the Oilers in 1998, and I'm pretty confident he would've refused to let an NHL tenant into the Toyota Center. Hell, he killed the AHL Aeros because he wanted them out of his building; no chance he lets an NHL team in. Neither would Vegas, since they also didn't have an NHL-capable rink anywhere; just Orleans Arena, which is another facility that had only hosted an ECHL team.

 

Plus both run afoul of realignment issues anyways; if the Coyotes move back to Winnipeg, they'd obviously be in the Central; but Kansas City would have to be there as well because of geography. You could move to Houston and put them in with Dallas, but then who in that division moves to the Central?

 

Atlanta didn't really have another year left in them, what with their arena situation; and I don't think even the NHL would be desperate enough at that point to consider an ECHL rink as viable for an NHL team. If the options the NHL had were Kansas City, Québec, or folding the team, I think they just (even if somewhat begrudgingly) let the Thrashers go to Québec. 

 

It's the only option that keeps the team in the East; and even if the Coliseé was a fossil by that point, there would've been a new arena coming in a few years anyways, so I could imagine them sort of begrudgingly accepting the Coliseé as a temporary measure while the Vidéotron Center was being built. At least there's an open arena to hold the team standing in Québec, as opposed to Atlanta, which had nothing that was even a remote possibility.

 

Kansas City would've forced realignment because it'd be another Western team, so I dunno how eager the NHL would've been to move the Thrashers there.

 

I mean, MAYBE you have Hamilton competing with Québec, but the distaste the owners had for Balsillie was pretty well-known even at the time; so unless someone else stepped up to own the team, I doubt Hamilton would've been in the running.

 

The only even remotely realistic option, in my opinion, would've been to have the Thrashers go to Québec. At the very least, the franchise staying east isn't as big a headache for the league as having one year of Winnipeg in the same division as Tampa and Florida.

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Imagining Ryan Lambert and all the other lame-ass do-gooders pulling the whole "your team is really the Thrashers, how dare you" shtick on a new Nordiques team, demanding they honor Patrik Stefan instead of Peter Stastny and Michel Goulet, and just getting a barrage of inscrutable Catholic terminology shouted at them

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Yeah it seems like the Houston stuff is all related to the current Rockets owner. I had no idea the old one had the lease on Toyota Center at the time, that's a big issue in getting a team moved. With how much the league hates Quebec (and how bad of a judgement maker they are) I think they would've tried for at least one more year in Atlanta scrambling for a new American group to buy the team before just giving up and selling it to the Quebec group.

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On 5/31/2020 at 7:44 PM, Ridleylash said:

I do feel bad for the fans in Atlanta that were thoroughly :censored:ed over by Atlanta Spirit.

The "Save the Thrashers" rally was rather pitiful. I feel for the few Thrashers fans who cared, but the team is in a much better place now.

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20 minutes ago, IceCap said:

The "Save the Thrashers" rally was rather pitiful. I feel for the few Thrashers fans who cared, but the team is in a much better place now.

That's also because Atlanta Spirit ran the team into the dirt for years. Hard to really drum up a big fanbase in a Southern market when you're constantly terrible; we're seeing that with Florida now, as well, and the Coyotes were notoriously sparse in attendance during the 2000's because they were awful and had highly unstable ownership. The Thrashers could easily have succeeded had they not fallen into ASG's grubby little paws; they never dropped below 13,000 in overall home attendance through their time in Atlanta even with the godawful performances, though, so I'd say there was a decent amount of interest in the team for a franchise that spent most of it's life toiling in the doldrums.

 

The main problem with the Thrashers was on ASG; they did basically nothing to increase the team's profile in the market, nothing to develop the team into a contender and nothing to draw people in who may not otherwise have watched the NHL. It's hard to draw fans when you have a shoestring budget to try and even ice a competitive hockey team. Had they become what Nashville is now, a team that's well-run, consistently competitive and enjoys a rabid fanbase, I'd think there's a distinct possibility that other owners might've come in to buy the franchise and keep it in Atlanta, causing the Coyotes to move back to Winnipeg.

 

Instead, they became the Golden Seals; a team that was horrifically mismanaged and basically never competetive.

 

I get that there weren't an insane amount of fans visible, but honestly, the only reason the NHL kept Arizona over Atlanta was one had a city bending over backwards to keep them, the other had an ownership group literally doing everything in their power to poison pill the team to any prospective buyers. That's really the only reason the Thrashers moved and the Coyotes didn't, even speaking as a fan of the latter.

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