Thanks to FANIQ, we now know about yet another attempt to bring yet another NHL team to the greater Toronto area. The Toronto Legacy would be an expansion franchise that would bring mixed-use building joy to Toronto (including a huge arena), donate 25% of its profits to charity, and price tickets cheaply for the common Canadian man.
However, the creators of the Legacy have zero backing from the NHL. In fact, you can probably hear Gary Bettman rolling his eyes from your current seat. It’s just one more headache in the southern Ontario region for the NHL, from trying to keep the Atlanta Thrashers from moving north to preventing a bankruptcy judge from encouraging a move for the Coyotes to Canada.
However, an immodest proposal: Gary Bettman should grasp onto these crazy Canadians and their kooky idea (The Legacy? Really?) because they might be his best last hope to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix.
At this point, the NHL needs another franchise like it needs a hole in their five. If anything, they could stand to lose 2-22 teams, much less adding a second new team to Toronto. (One could argue they don’t have an NHL team now, but that would just be mean.) (But true.) (But mean.)
However, the point of flirting with the Legacies wouldn’t be to take them seriously or actually let them have a team (though that’s fine if desired). Instead, it would be a hard message to Jim Balsillie, the man who wants to buy the Phoenix franchise by hook or by judge and drag it back north to Hamilton, ON, that the NHL isn’t without leverage.
Balsillie’s idea of introducing a franchise nearish Toronto only works if the area hasn’t truly reached saturation for NHL dollars. If there’s a chance of another downtown Toronto team soaking up money and not requiring extensive travel, then it eats into Balsillie’s market further and makes it harder to move up north and make enough money.
It probably doesn’t kill the Maple Leafs because their fans across North America won’t waver, but it will leave the New Coyotes and the Legacy to starve each other slowly. Balsillie will know that and perhaps be convinced to leave the Coyotes in Phoenix (or walk away and let Jerry Reinsdorf buy the Coyotes since he’s shown interest in leaving them in the desert).
It’s a scorched earth strategy and a long shot, to be sure, but nothing else has stopped Jim Balsillie from trying. Perhaps this could finally be the positive legacy Gary Bettman leaves behind.