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The Hamilton Spectator
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Friday May 15, 2009
The NHL might have good reasons for blocking Jim Balsillie's attempts to buy a team and move it to southwestern Ontario.

But by consistently rebuffing the Ontario option, commissioner Gary Bettman gives Canadian hockey fans good reason to loathe him.

James Mirtle has tracked the various angles of the Coyotes mess. Following up on this Damien Cox story, he argues that the Maple Leafs' monopoly in the Toronto region is bad for the NHL and bad for the sport:

There's growing bitterness in Toronto over the fact that the league has become all but inaccessible for everyone but the wealthy elite and the business community, and that could have long-term effects on the fan base in this part of North America.

The fact is that the vast majority of kids are growing up in this city without ever having the opportunity to attend an NHL game, and I wonder if at some point that'll turn a generation off the sport entirely.

Increasingly, Leafs home games at the Air Canada Centre are seen as a playground for corporate clients and other fat cats, while most real fans are left to watch on television.

A league with three teams in California and three in the greater New York area can't justify maintaining one franchise in the most populous region of hockey-mad Canada.

Bettman supporters will argue that he worked to save the Ottawa Senators not so long ago, proving that his agenda does not discriminate against any country or region.

Maybe so. But he's losing the public relations battle. Source.

Why Canada Hates Bettman
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