It doesn’t happen very often anymore. Years ago, when it seemed like an NHL team in Sprint Center was a possibility, someone would bring up the NHL in Kansas City. Now that it’s a foregone conclusion that it will never happen, no one talks about it anymore.
Well, shockingly, someone brought it up in my presence last night. And, I kind of felt sorry for the guy because I absolutely put a clown suit on him.
Him: “Kansas City can’t support an NHL team”
Me: “Can’t or won’t?”
Me: Can. We CAN support one just as well as Nashville or Raleigh or Columbus or Miami.
Him: Well, what’s the attendance for those teams? Not very good.
Me: Too general. What do you mean by not very good? Nashville averages 16,600. They get 12k, 13k on a weeknight and sell out weekends. Kansas City can do that. Columbus’ average attendance is a little lower. We could match theirs. If we did that, the franchise would be fine. It helps the NHL has a hard cap.
Him: Hockey teams are always leaving. We had an NHL team fail and a minor league team leave.
Me: How is a franchise leaving in the 1970s relevant? It’s a completely different world. You’re carrying a phone, in your pocket, that’s basically a fully functional computer. How is what happened in the 70s relevant? Plus, the Scouts were owned by 30 guys and none of them knew what they were doing. And, the Blades didn’t fold. The whole league folded. The opportunity wasn’t there to even keep the Blades.
Him: That team out in Independence isn’t doing that well.
Me: What? They average 5500 or so in a 6,000 seat arena. They rank in the top 20 in minor league attendance, better than teams in hockey cities like Hamilton, Ontario and Worcester, MA
Him: Sure. 5,000 people. I just don’t think Kansas City will support the NHL.
Me: We’ll never know because hockey was never coming in the first place. However, the statement isn’t “can’t”. We CAN. If you had said “won’t” you’d have a better argument. Because if the team is run as poorly as the Royals or as badly as Atlanta’s NHL team was run, then yes, KC probably wouldn’t support them.
Him: Exactly. Teams that do poorly don’t draw.
Me: OK. That’s wrong. Buffalo sells out.
Him: Well, that’s hockey country.
Me: Tampa has averaged 18k+ since, well, forever. Is Tampa hockey country?
Him: They have a lot of transplants.
Me: So does Miami, but no one goes to the games there. Attendance is all about ownership and the effectiveness of the franchise. It has very little to do with market. The Florida Panthers have been poorly run for, forever. Atlanta’s NHL team was an absolute joke and it had nothing to do with the fans. A well-run team, like Tampa or San Jose, could draw in Indianapolis or San Antonio or Salt Lake City.
I swear. It’s amazing to me how the most basic logic is lost on the general population.
The Scouts argument is the worst, most uninformed argument one can make. I didn’t even go into the fact the NHL didn’t have the type of expansion draft they’ve had for the Ducks, etc to supply the team with quality players up front, the NHL and WHA were competing for players, which drove up salaries at a time when the Midwest was struggling and that the league had very little national exposure. Those things killed the quality of the product on the ice, which I don’t think any owner could have overcome. The new owners certainly couldn’t overcome those negatives in Denver. By the way, how is Denver doing the second time around?
The topic might come up again in September before the exhibition game at Sprint Center. But, probably not since the momentum for even talking about it is virtually gone.
By the way, have you seen the new arena in Quebec City is starting to take shape? A city with a already-in-place NHL ownership group.