Thursday, June 04, 2009

New group enters the second NHL team in Toronto fray

Very interesting stuff here from The Globe and Mail. Apparently, a group led by Paul Pellegrini and Andrew Lopez has lined up $1 billion in financing and scheduled a news conference for Friday to discuss application for an expansion franchise, a potential arena site and a name. I wonder if this group is at all related to the one that provoked the earlier Vaughan rumours I covered back in April?

If Vaughan is indeed the plan, that would make a lot of sense. Vaughan is a better site than Hamilton in my mind; it wouldn't affect the Sabres as much, and there are more people within close range of the arena. Plus, an expansion franchise (especially one with this amount of cash) would allow Gary Bettman and co. to cut Jim Balsillie off at the knees and maintain their control of where franchises are placed. Furthermore, a generous payment could stifle any potential objections from the Leafs and Sabres and prevent what could be a nasty antitrust fight in court. If these guys are serious about coming in through the front door, the NHL may be tempted to go with them to keep Balsillie out. In any case, it will be interesting to watch. In my mind, we will see another NHL team in Southern Ontario relatively soon, as the market's just too desirable to neglect. The questions are where it will play, when it will arrive, and who will be involved. I'll have more on this one as details come out.


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