The NHL Has Canadian Problems


Winnipeg and Ottawa have unique woes.

Just because the National Hockey League does not have a Phoenix-area problem anyone, that does not mean that Commissioner Gary Bettman and league owners have ridded themselves of a problem franchise. There is work to be done in Winnipeg, Manitoba where season tickets have to be sold in a market that does not have the kind of corporate support that is normally needed for a franchise to succeed because there is not much of a corporate presence in the city. In Winnipeg, ordinary people are needed to buy tickets. The NHL knew when it transferred its Atlanta franchise to the Manitoba capital in 2011, Winnipeg was a small sized market with limited corporate support operating in Canada while dealing in American currency. The Winnipeg owner Mark Chipman said in February that his business needs to get back to a season ticket base of 13,000 ticket holders, and current attendance numbers are “not going to work over the long haul.” Chipman’s business’ season-ticket sales have dropped by 27 per cent in the past three years to less than 9,500 holders from around 13,000 holders. Chipman knows that outside economic factors are a problem. “Dips in discretionary spending. Inflation hitting. The bubble really burst on us,” Chipman said.

East of Winnipeg, in Canada’s capital of Ottawa, the arena game continues. There is a new owner in town, Michael Andlauer, and he is trying to figure out what is best for his business in terms of location. Stay in suburban Kanata or move to downtown Ottawa. The former Senators ownership worked out a deal with the National Capital Commission to possibly build an arena at LeBreton Flats, a parcel of land not far from Parliament Hill but Andlauer is in no rush to take over the land. There could be other options available. The business of the NHL continues.

Evan Weiner’s books are available at iTunes –

Evan can be reached at