Contrary to reports, Toronto isn't anywhere close to getting a second NHL team

Nov 5 2019, 12:45 pm

“Is another NHL team coming to Toronto?”

No, it is not.

“Toronto could get another NHL team and the biggest hockey arena ever.”

I guess anything is possible.

“Toronto might actually get another NHL team and Torontonians are shook.”

Settle down.

Some local media outlets decided to run those sensationalized headlines in recent days, after the “news” that someone wants to bring an NHL team to Toronto.

And, if you know nothing about NHL expansion, you might have reason to believe this is a serious development.

“I always told myself that the next time I would have a press conference after an announcement is if we had something concrete to present,” said Andrew Lopez of Toronto Legacy Sports & Entertainment, the same group that pitched something like this in 2009. “And we do.”

Except… it doesn’t appear that they actually do have anything concrete to present.

The press conference, which looked like it was slapped together in 20 minutes in a moderately-priced hotel ballroom, revealed just how farfetched this proposal is.

toronto nhl press conference

The press conference (CityNews Toronto / YouTube)

While Lopez said he has a “$5 billion private investment” and a real estate development will be going through “100%,” he revealed that the arena — never mind an NHL expansion team — is certainly less than a certainty.

“The only question here is if we also build an arena and if we have an expansion offer approved by the NHL.”

As if that wasn’t the biggest question.

If the NHL decides it wants to put a second team in the GTA, there will be billionaires lining up to throw money on the table — money has never been the issue.

The potential ownership group confirmed that they haven’t contacted NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, but they had sent him the press release. Which I’m sure Bettman will have definitely opened and definitely read by now. Totally.

They also haven’t met with the City of Toronto, but plan on submitting a proposal next week.

At this point, the idea that this is going to happen at all is pure comedy.

The group is apparently hoping to launch a team in 2021, which, even if this was a serious proposal (which it’s not), is way too soon. That’s the same year that Seattle is scheduled to enter the NHL as the league’s 32nd franchise. Seattle was awarded a team last year, has already broken ground on a new arena, and had been in contact with the NHL for years before that.

But wait, there’s more.

Not only does this group want to build a new stadium in the GTA, they want to build the “world’s largest hockey arena” that will seat 25,000 fans (nearly 4,000 more than the Bell Centre in Montreal) for some reason.

The arena, which isn’t getting built, is being imagined for the east side of Allen Road, just south of the Sheppard West TTC Station in North York… or at a Canada Lands Corporation across the street.

While they’re waiting for that arena to be completed, the team would apparently play in Hamilton.

There are a couple more problems there too.

Not only would a team in North York require the approval of the Maple Leafs, given that it’s in their territory, playing in Hamilton requires the approval of both the Leafs and the Sabres because of the city’s proximity to both Toronto and Buffalo.

This group, which again, hasn’t talked to Bettman or the city, already has a terrible team name and a remarkably ugly logo and jersey.

Say hello to the “Toronto Legacy Aces.”

toronto legacy aces

The hilariously awful name, logo, and jerseys of a proposed NHL team that will likely never exist (CityNews Toronto / YouTube)

This is the same group that in 2009 proposed a 30,000-seat arena, which was rightfully ridiculed back then as well.

The idea of putting a second NHL team in Toronto is a good one. It’s the biggest hockey market in the world — so if New York City and Southern California can support multiple teams, so can the GTA.

The Maple Leafs, after all, are worth $1.45 billion USD. Certainly, a second team could be profitable.

But the hurdle that needs to be jumped over is getting the approval of the Leafs, and so far MLSE has shown zero interest in sharing their market. Following that, a potential ownership group will have to gain the trust of the NHL, who just awarded two new expansion franchises and doesn’t have immediate plans for another one.

And even if the Leafs and the league are open to it, the NHL is probably not going to award a franchise to an ownership group that put together a haphazard press conference making outlandish claims about getting a franchise without even speaking to them first.