|Original photo via : Norm Hall|
Oh, but if it only were so easy. Bettman was quick to point out that they are merely in talks right now. That is, the major announcement being that the NHL is in exclusive talks with Jamison. Nothing has been decided, nothing is being put in front of the Glendale city council, nothing has been given to the Goldwater Institute to read, etc. All we have is two dudes talking about how cool they are with each other. Which is fine...who would guess any part of this process would be quick. It's taken three years, what's another couple weeks/months? It should be noted, though, that the city of Glendale would like to figure out a budget for next year by July 1st. One has to imagine the NHL will want this deal to get done – one way or the other – by then, as well, so they can make the necessary arrangements (either for relocation or handing the team over to Jamison and his group).
So, elephant in the room... what does this mean for the future of the NHL in Kansas City? Well, if you are a Kansas City hockey fan, you already know the answer to that question. Nothing. It means nothing one way or the other. There was no sense in getting any hopes up over the Coyotes possibly moving. Sure, they could and they still can, and I have nothing saying that it wouldn't except for common sense, but you know the deal. No owner, no team.
As a fan of the league, as a fan of the sport, the Coyotes staying in the desert is the best thing that can happen right now, and their run to the Stanley Cup Finals is the best thing that can happen for the spread of the sport and its popularity. You don't have to cheer for them, and you don't have to agree with that assessment ($20-25 million in annual losses is not good for anyone), but Bettman cannot afford to lose another one of his "non-traditional" markets, or a major television market, to the likes of a Quebec or *gasp* Saskatoon. No, the Phoenix saga isn't over by any means, and IF this plan falls through, the Coyotes will not be in Phoenix much longer, but this reaffirms Bettman's dedication to keeping the Coyotes in Glendale, and thus, the American hockey landscape. That's good. That's good whether you live in Kansas City, or Miami, or Boston, or Seattle, or wherever. Have pride in this map, Americans, just look at all of the American born players in the Southeast and Southwest. That's encouraging, and you can at least give Bettman credit in that he wants to grow the sport, and he's at least consistent in the way that he does it.
For the "If not the Coyotes, then who?"crowd in KC, I can only offer two words of advice: Patience, and enjoy. We are, arguably, the most patient fan base in the country. The Royals haven't won anything in forever. The Chiefs can't win (consistently, and in the playoffs). NHL and NBA exhibition games for the past forever years. But, that's the thing. Enjoy the exhibition games. Enjoy the IceBreaker Tournament. Enjoy the Mavs. As pucKChaser put it, 2012 may be the best year for KC hockey fans ever. It may be the best time to be a KC hockey fan since the Blades, or maybe even before that, since the mid-1970s.
Be patient, and enjoy the opportunities we get. If you don't agree with me, just ask Coyotes fans.