A call from K.C.
I got a phone call late last week from Howard Richman of the Kansas City Star, soon to be the hometown paper of the NHL's newest team.
"I'm working on a story," he said, "and I'm wondering what the mood is in Canada.
"What do they think about Kansas City possibly getting a hockey team? And how does it compare to Hamilton as a hockey town?"
The Star went big on hockey coverage over the weekend, pumping out three articles that take at look at the history of hockey in the city, the catastrophe that was the Scouts and, in what's become a common refrain already in this country, the K.C. versus Hamilton debate.
It was sort of an odd position to be put in, asked to provide a general comment for Canadians as a hockey expert ** — but I think the gist of what I was quoted saying is applicable (minus a few hyperbole regarding the strength of the hockey market in southern Ontario). One of Richman's arguments was that hockey had set roots in Kansas City in the past and that it wasn't necessarily the hockey "black hole" it was being made out to be, but I think I was able to describe the hockey-mania in Hamilton and environs pretty well.
There's honestly no comparison between the two markets in terms of demand for hockey, and that's never really been the deciding issue for where a franchise would potentially move to. The biggest worry of Canadians, I said, was that a Nashville to Kansas City relocation would only make for another troubled franchise and a repeat of the now-familiar scenario a decade down the line.
Regardless of what I and many others think, however, a team is going to be moved to K.C. and the NHL will try to make a go of it given the ownership situation and building availability. I only hope that the hockey history Richman spoke to is enough for the team to find a toehold in what's been called one of the most overextended sports markets in the United States.
No one wants to see the second coming of the Scouts.
** I'm identified in one of the stories as a hockey reporter for The Globe and Mail, which is incorrect given my work as a copy editor on the sports desk