Competition Bureau investigates NHL
According to a report today from the National Post, the Canadian Competition Bureau is investigating the NHL's franchise relocation policies and specifically the aspects that involve the "territorial rights" of teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs:
...sources told the Post the Competition Bureau is reviewing a section of the NHL's constitution that deals with the "territorial rights" of the league and its member clubs. According to Article 4.1 of the league's constitution, "each member shall have exclusive territorial rights in the city in which it is located and within 50 miles of that city's corporate limits," which is known as the club's "home territory."The details regarding the rights are old news, and they've always been the reason pundits have declared a second franchise in the Greater Toronto Area a non-starter. Should this watchdog find improprieties in the NHL's guidelines, however, that could change:
According to insiders, the competition bureau is reviewing whether the territorial rights and vetos ascribed to the league and its individual members in its constitution contravene civil sections of the Canadian Competition Act that deal with abuse of dominant position and market restriction provisions. The watchdog is attempting to determine whether the NHL and its member teams are engaged in anti-competitive practices that substantially lessen competition in a market, or, are likely to do so.It's hard not to believe that Jim Balsillie didn't have just a little to do with the fact this is now being investigated, and you wonder if this business is making the Maple Leafs brass squirm.
The timing of it all, including the recent news regarding an arena lease in Hamilton, is rather convenient.