Saskatoon’s Ancient Fight For An NHL Team 

Despite its small population, Saskatoon is an ice hockey hotbed.

Saskatoon has long been talked about as a possible host for an NHL team, but as Canada’s 19th largest city, is it really a viable option?

As far back as 2012, well known journalist Bob McKenzie wrote a column discussing the possibility of Saskatoon becoming a new location for an NHL team. At the time the article was rebuffed by the then Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall.

In fairness to Wall, he was in favor of the idea, but he didn’t see it as possible at the time. Ever since, the story has lived on, mainly on the internet, but it’s still something longed for by hockey fans living in the Saskatchewan region. But what really are the chances of it ever happening?

Reasons an NHL franchise could work in Saskatoon

Despite its small population, Saskatoon is an ice hockey hotbed. Obviously, ice hockey is the national sport of Canada, so a new franchise would give fans the chance to get behind the team.

Fans would likely rally around a city franchise and back it to the hilt. And as the Canadian fans are so passionate about ice hockey, this could also lead to sponsorship deals with local companies, and lucrative deals with sportsbooks looking to advertise on a national level.

There is almost certainly a betting market for ice hockey in Canada, and passionate NHL franchise fans would have the opportunity to wager on their new team. It would be advisable for fans to check out the legal betting sites in Canada for themselves first. The betting rules differ from region to region. So the correct research is needed before fans bet on ice hockey.

Another reason a team in Saskatoon might work is the success story of the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets relocated from Atlanta back in 2011, and the relocation was a success.

The Jets are still going strong over 10 years on, and people in favor of a team in Saskatoon have often used the Jets as an example. But the Jets’ success could also be one of the biggest obstacles for proponents of a new team in the region.

Reasons an NHL franchise won’t work in Saskatoon

One of the main reasons that the franchise idea might never get off the ground is the population size of Saskatoon. A report compiled by a think tank called the Conference Board of Canada concluded that a city with a population of less than 750,000 would struggle to make a success out of an NHL franchise.

Saskatoon has a population estimated to be roughly 250,000, and 750,000 just happens to be the population of Winnipeg. This now seems to be regarded as the cut-off point.

There are also other Canadian cities interested in hosting an NHL franchise. Cities such as Hamilton (580,000), and Quebec (550,000), also wish to be considered and would argue that they have a far stronger case for success.

The think tank argues that cities with smaller populations would struggle to raise the revenues needed to sustain an NHL franchise, and also wouldn’t have the infrastructure to cope. All this may be wrong, but all of these factors would be taken into consideration, and until either opinion or the size of Saskatoon changes, an NHL franchise still looks a long way off.