There's been a lot of talk lately about relocating some NHL franchises from Southern US markets to Canada. Rumors have circulated about the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton and even the New Jersey Devils to Toronto. What has escaped some NHL pundits is that there is a team struggling in the Great White North that no one ever talks about: The Edmonton Oilers.
It's hockey blasphemy to suggest that a canadian city can't adequately support an NHL team. After all, Canada is the birthplace of hockey. Kids come skating out of their mother's uteruses at birth for crying out loud. But the legend of hockey in Canada has blinded most to the fact that even some cities in Canada don't merit an NHL franchise. Edmonton is one of those cities.
It's a city of roughly 700,000 people, a little bit less than Indianapolis, Indiana. The economy up there is in such poor shape that people are no longer going to the games. They prefer to spend their money on life's necessities like food, clothing and Molsons. Sure, they're still averaging 16,000 people per game, but if they lost their team these fans could just hop in the car and drive down to Calgary, which leads me to my second point.
Why does Alberta deserve 2 franchises? It'd be like St. Paul and Duluth getting NHL teams. Does Duluth need a team? No, because they can come down and watch the Wild. Calgary and Edmonton are too close to each other, simple geography.
And don't even get me started on the team's performance. No playoffs in 3 seasons and this season is more of the same. Oh sure, they won some Stanley Cups in the 1980's, but that was only because they had the extreme good fortune of drafting #99. The team is inept and only a complete teardown and rebuild in another city can fix it.
So where should they move the Oilers? I don't really care, maybe Winnipeg, maybe Oklahoma City. My only point here is that Edmonton has lost the ability to maintain and care for an NHL team.