The City of Goodwill
A metropolis with a core population over 630,000 and one that is but a short 178 Canadian kilometres from the 49th parallel doesn’t have an NHL hockey team, and that is pretty sad.
You might say it’s a deluxe five bedroom house with five bathrooms and is close to amenities. Not to mention, it’s got a great kitchen.
What’s also sad though is that fans of the National Hockey League have had to put up with the lunacy that runs so clearly through Gary Bettman’s brain. The Jets were sent to Glendale and the Nordiques to Denver because the financial times hit those places hard .But that doesn’t justify the fact they moved or the fact that other (American) locations closer to the border than bloody Phoenix (or Florida or Carolina or Dallas or San Jose) that would much better suit an NHL team, don’t have one.
It seems fairly certain a team will be moving to Seattle now within the next five years, and heck, it could even happen next season if the current deal being deliberated in the land of the desert dogs doesn’t go down as planned. Regardless, it makes for some fun day-dreaming of all the possibilities that come with an NHL hockey team in the City of Flowers.
What are we fantasizing about here in Vancouver, Seattle’s riot sister city?
The last time two professional hockey teams in Vancouver and Seattle played each other was in 1924. Art Duncan’s Vancouver Maroons defeated Frank Foyston’s Seattle Metropolitans for that season’s PCHA title.
Just imagine a young Ryan Kesler leading the Canucks’ next generation against a somehow Jeremy Roenick managed, Seattle Metros organization. Seattle folks could look forward to a heavy American presence when the Canucks visit two or three times each season. The Canucks are just as American now as they were Swedish 10 years ago.
Maybe this would even start a revolution where American hockey fans learn chanting, “USA, USA, USA,” isn’t really the smartest thing to do because it makes you look uber-dumb to Canadians.
You know we’re all dying to see Mike Smith v. Alex Edler, Round two.
The Coffee Bowl
Call it a bowl, a cup, or a plaque for all I care. Regardless, I propose the Coffee Bowl, something akin to the Cascadia Cup of northwest soccer lore. Minor hockey teams already stage cross-border tournaments each season, so why not take it to the highest level.
Seattle has Seattle’s Best and Vancouver has Starbucks. You could even call the trophy the Pacific Cuppa, or the Cuppa Joe, or the Stanley Cup of Coffee, or just The Mug.
It only makes DURP sense for a team to be in Seattle. It doesn’t just work out for the Vancouver Canucks’ benefit but hockey-wise as well. Why wouldn’t or shouldn’t there be a major league team for grass-roots players to aspire to and look up to?
Of course there’s the rivalry and the money to be had. Canucks fans would surely flock down the I-5 for what would certainly be a cheaper ticket than in VanCity and it might just work the other way as well.
That said, don’t expect Phoenix type deals where you get four tickets, hotdogs, pop, and churros for the entire family and free parking along with any player’s jersey off their back that you want for $19.99.
Washington State has four major junior teams so fans aren’t completely clueless when it comes to hockey. In fact, NWSB’s own Brandon Choate was in his first hockey pool this past season.
Residents south of the border want to learn about hockey and want a team to cheer for and they deserve one, with all due respect, more significant than the Western Hockey League’s.
Perhaps a talent like TJ Oshie, one of the league’s best young players and a native of the Mt. Vernon, WA area would be drawn back to play in his home state. He’d undoubtedly be a role model for minor hockey players in Washington.
The grass-roots hockey movement has worked wonders in places like Texas (Seth Jones) and California (Brooks Orpik), so why wouldn’t it work in the Pacific Northwest? If Gary Bettman is really about growing the game, why not sow the seeds in a land more fertile?
As mentioned, Seattle’s core population is over 600,000, and if you count the outlying areas, that’s another four million, much, much more than Vancouver and it’s outlying areas. No we don’t have MLB or NFL here but I bet we could.
Seattle’s been screwed by the NBA more than once and frankly hasn’t had much to cheer for sports-wise in a long while.
The Mariners suck. The Seahawks are slowly improving but for a long while were a laughing stock. The Sounders are nothing to boast about either. An NHL team may not succeed right away but it would breathe some life into the Seattle sports scene and give sports fans something more to be proud of.
Seattle will have a new arena in a few years’ time and that building will need a tenant or two. The National Hockey League would be best served to put the proverbial damage deposit down now and sign the rent papers.