I'm sure that Balsillie is fuming over this notion.
According to a report in the Globe and Mail a group that is intending to bid on the Phoenix Coyotes wants to bring five of the team's regular season games to Saskatoon or Halifax.
The Globe is reporting that the group known as Ice Edge Holdings has been in discussion with both Canadian cities so that the Coyotes could play "home games" in either Saskatoons Credit Union Centre or likely the Halifax Metro Centre. The group also stated that should the Coyotes make the playoffs they would hold some of the team's post-season contests in the above-mentioned Canadian cities as well.
"Canada is obviously a tremendous hockey market, yet there are currently 6,000 kilometres of Canadian soil that have no exposure to the NHL in their home market," Ice Edge partner Daryl Jones told the Globe. "Our plan from the outset was to work with a Canadian city that doesn't have NHL territorial rights issues, and also one that wouldn't be considered a threat to the fans in Phoenix."
"It's a great opportunity to bring regular season NHL hockey to a Canadian city that otherwise would never have the opportunity. It is a great way to ensure the team stays in Phoenix for the long run, but partners with a Canadian city in the process."
The proposal, named "grassroots Canadian hockey strategy" will be presented to the NHL's executive board on Wednesday in Chicago. The group reportedly has no plans to relocate the team if their bid is successful and sees the games as an opportunity to generate additional revenue.
The Metro Centre is a dump but they would almost certainly sell more tickets for actual NHL games here and generate more revenue than they would in Phoenix. It would not be very pretty, as the arena here is even older than the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh and lacks its charm. The QMJHL broadcasts don't look very hot and I can't imagine how they'd possibly be able to whip the place up to NHL standards for broadcasting purposes. Factor in the time zones and the excessive travel for a Western Conference team, and the Saskatoon option gains instant appeal vis-a-vis Halifax.
However, if they really wanted to get people all a-tizzy, book the games against the Habs, Leafs, Bruins, and Penguins. It may be a "home game" for the 'Yotes but I guarantee that the fan support would be like 99%-1% for the so-called visitors. This place is pretty evenly divided when it comes to loyalties, with a lot of the old-time hockey fans divided among the Ooriginal Six and a lot of the new wave latching on to the Penguins due to Sidney Crosby (who, btw, is coming here next Friday with the Stanley Cup!)The 1% for the Pittsburgh game would only cheer for Phoenix because they like Alex Ovechkin more than Crosby. They'd likely also get injured by the mob.