The NHL Gets Its Way, And Paradoxically, So Do The Fans

I've been a vocal advocate for Jim Balsillie's plan to move the Coyotes to Ontario. But in the wake of today's ruling to reject his bid, it's clear that the judge made the right decision. The only decision.

Hockey in the Sun Belt (outside of Dallas) has been an indisputable failure. The fans don't care, the players don't want to come, and everything from the uniforms to the team names screams "minor league." So why allow this failure to continue?

Because the NHL needs to be allowed to fail. Not the league as a whole; hockey will survive despite Gary Bettman. But decisions regarding where and for whom teams play belongs only in the hands of the commissioner and the league.

A strong centralized power is essential for a league's legitimacy and solvency. Without it, it's not a league; it's the new ABA. And one day Bettman will be long gone, but at least he'll have preserved the NHL's ability to control itself. The right to make bad decisions is a necessary byproduct of the right to make one's own decisions.

When I thought about the Coyotes' sale, it always seemed a simple matter of Hamilton being a much more viable city for a team than Glendale. But there was more at stake here than the future of one team; this could have been the equivalent of the Curt Flood decision for ownership. When an owner can buy and move teams on a whim, that's nothing but free agency for franchises.

And that would be disastrous for the state of pro sports in this country. The Coyotes had to die so that the rest of our teams may live.