Photo of downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Image Credit: Daryl Mitchell (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The NHL finally made it's way back to Winnipeg, Manitoba this past season when they inherited the Atlanta Thrashers. The Jets have sold out every single game at their home arena; the MTS Centre.  When will the NHL get smart and discontinue the trend of trying to expand the game into U.S. markets? Well, the case of the Winnipeg Jets may help put an end to U.S. expansions or at least expansions in the southern United States. Attendances for Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes games have been atrocious. 

A growing list of cities pursuing an NHL franchise includes Kansas City, Seattle, Hamilton (Ontario), Quebec City, Hartford and Saskatoon. Saskatoon is an interesting case because among the aforementioned cities, Saskatoon is the smallest with a population of 220,000. Nearby Regina, has a population of 200,000 as well. It would be safe to say plenty of hockey fans in Regina would regularly make the two hour commute to see games. However, the city of Saskatoon already has a standing arena, the Credit Union Centre, which can hold more than 15,000 people for hockey games. The Credit Union Centre would be the second smallest NHL arena and have been able to sustain an amateur junior hockey for 24 years. It's small capacity is comparable to the MTS Centre, home of the Winnipeg Jets as well as the Barclays Center, home of the New York Islanders.

Why wouldn't an NHL franchise work in Saskatoon? 220,000 is still plenty of people but the ticket prices would have to remain competitive with the rest of the league. How many Saskatoon residents would be willing to shell out $60 for a ticket on a nightly basis? Does the city have the corporate presence to purchase corporate suites, luxury boxes and private seating that Gary Bettman and team owners look for? Those are complicated questions. Could an NHL franchise relocate or expand to Saskatoon? Yes, but it's a long shot at this time, no matter how much it appears that Canadians and the Saskatchewan province love their hockey.


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