Earlier this week, the Carolina Hurricanes hockey franchise was rumored to have been sold for $500 million dollars by Peter Karmanos Jr. to Chuck Greenberg. The move could change the NHL landscape.
The reasons for sale include reports that team has reported incurred 200 million dollars worth of debt in spite of revenue sharing, combine this with a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since being swept in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, and a league low 63 percent attendance percentage and not only could the team be sold but they could leave North Carolina completely.
This is ironic seeing as the ‘Canes, as they are nicknamed, only moved to North Carolina after the 1996-1997 season when Karmanos uprooted the team from Connecticut when they were called the Hartford Whalers when they were plagued by low attendance and money problems. (An irony worth noting is once the Whalers merchandise was again allowed to be produced it became some of the top selling hockey merchandise, comparing with Original six teams).
However, fans of the Hurricanes should not feel that their team is about to blow away in the wind as, despite the ever present rumors that a Quebec City group will purchase a team (not necessary Carolina), to make the second iteration of the Nordiques. Gary Bettman has been resistant, if not outright hostile, to the idea that one of the “Sun Belt” teams in a nontraditional market could be relocated to the north.
Potential owners willing to keep the team in Raleigh will be given preferential treatment if Karmanos does indeed decide to sell. Bettman’s widely perceived bias against putting another team in Canada aside, the Commissioner of the NHL does have at least one point in his favor and that is instability of teams is bad for business and relocation makes the league look financially feeble. This story could wind up being nothing more than hot air as a result of a slow sports news month but even if that is the case the Hurricanes do need something to change whether that be an influx in attendance or a move.
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