Get your tinfoil hats folks, it's conspiracy time.
We know a few things at this moment, that the Atlanta Thrashers are probably going to move to Winnipeg and that the Winnipegians are really, really excited. You'd expect Winnipeg to be a decent market, but when they were around they were only selling about 82% of their available seats, a bottom ten number in today's NHL. Here's what I think happened.
I think that Bettman knew all along that Canada is a preferable place to have a hockey team than the deep south, but the numbers just weren't there. So he started moving teams left and right to the south and created a few expansion teams. He did this because he knew two things. One was that at least a few of those Southern teams would fail. The second was that if deprived of a team for a few years, the Canadian fans would come in droves and sell out the building for years to come and that at least a few of the southern teams would be ripe to be moved. The evidence of this is plain for all to see in the Northstars/Wild saga. The Wild fans have topped 95% capacity even though their team is potpourri-ed dogshit and plays the most boring hockey imaginable.
Now Bettman can move a team back to Winnipeg knowing that the locals will be so damn excited they'll top 90% capacity for twenty years regardless of the product on the ice.
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