Relocation Speculation: Bring the Atlanta Flames Back!

Although this hockey season is coming to an end very soon, the news is still flying everywhere.

The Blackhawks signed Czech defenseman Jan Rutta, which is an obvious sign that Trevor van Riemsdyk and/or Marcus Krüger will end up in Vegas. The Flyers are looking to trade away the 2nd overall pick in the draft, which I totally agree with (depending on who it’s for, of course). To top it all off, Brian Burke, President of Hockey Operations for the Calgary Flames, just threatened to relocate the team if a new arena isn’t approved by the city of Calgary. Hockey’s coming back to Atlanta, baby!
To bring everyone up to speed on this, the Calgary Flames have played in the Scotiabank Saddledome, the coolest-looking arena in the NHL, since 1983. The Detroit Red Wings just played their last game in Joe Louis Arena in April, which gives Calgary the honor of having the second oldest arena in the NHL, behind Madison Square Garden (which underwent a $968 million renovation five years ago).
In 2008, Flames’ president and CEO Ken King first mentioned plans of a new arena in the future, hoping for a plan by the time their lease with the Saddledome expired in 2014. It took longer than expected, but the Flames’ front office unveiled CalgaryNEXT, a plan to build a new arena for the Flames and a new stadium for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, in 2015.

However, the estimated cost of this plan added up to about $1.8 billion, with taxpayers paying up to two-thirds of the cost. Obviously, the city of Calgary has a reason to go against this plan.

Apparently, the Flames are fed up with the city not budging, as Brian Burke threatened to relocate the team yesterday.

According to Burke, the city doesn’t believe the Flames generate any economic impact… I don’t know what the city is thinking, but that’s probably not the smartest thing to say about a playoff team that’s only getting better, especially when they’re thinking about leaving. How can a small-market city really believe that their only big four professional sports team doesn’t help their economy at all? Damn Canadians, what a bunch of bags of milk.

Brian Burke isn’t messing around here. He straight up told the press, “If we don’t get a new arena, we out.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone so straightforward like that, especially on a subject as serious as shipping a team out of town.

I don’t blame Burke, though. The team is talented, young and extremely fun to watch. They could potentially bring a lot of money to the city in a couple years, but why play for a city who won’t treat them right? I’d be out of there in a second.

That’s why I’m just a fan, and what’s my job as a fan? To root for something, and I’m rooting that the Flames to ship it back down to the rap capital of the world, ATL, Lou Will Ville, Hotlanta, baby. Bring back the Atlanta Flames!

The Flames played in Atlanta for 8 seasons before shipping up to Calgary in 1980, and they really weren’t that bad. They made the playoffs in six of those seasons (never won a series, though), but the fans just didn’t show up, leading to a loss of money and sale of the team.
This would be the perfect time to relocate down to Atlanta, too. With the success of the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the hockey crowd in the South is bigger than ever.

That being said, the NHL would never allow for this to happen. Although the Flames were a financial disaster in Atlanta, the league awarded the city another chance with the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999, which ended up as an absolute mess. The Thrashers were the joke of the league. They made the playoffs once in 11 seasons before relocating to Winnipeg in 2011. The only reason I still want this to happen is because my roommate and I made a Calgary Flames franchise in NHL 17, relocated the team to Atlanta and became an absolute dynasty. We’ve dedicated way too much of our time to that team, so it would’ve been super dope to say we called it, but there’s no chance we see another hockey team in the rap capital anytime soon, if ever.

With Atlanta out of the picture, where else could the Flames go?

According to Burke, Quebec City looks like the number one option. When asked where the team would go, Burke sarcastically thought about it and brought up moving to Quebec, home of the new Videotron Centre, an arena suited to host an NHL team in a city filled with hockey fanatics. The Nordiques moved out of Quebec in 1995 due to the small market and owner Marcel Aubut’s fear of losing money. On top of that, the team’s owners and coaches did not speak English, so there was very little press coverage. Obviously, the situation would be different with the Flames, and I think this team could thrive in Quebec. Changing the Battle of Alberta (Calgary v. Edmonton) to the Battle of Quebec (Quebec v. Montreal) would be awesome for the NHL.

Another option for relocation is Seattle. Rumors have been flying around the league for a couple years that the Arizona Coyotes will relocate to Seattle, so the city has been in talks of relocation/expansion for a while. On top of that, Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson is a member of an investment group looking to build an arena in Seattle in an effort to bring the Sonics back and possibly host an NHL team. This would be ideal, considering everyone and their mother wants to see the Sonics back in the NBA. If the Flames want to stay in the West, Seattle is the move. The Seattle Wave.. sounds catchy.

Houston could easily be a great spot as well. The Houston Aeros of the AHL played in the Toyota Center until 2013, so there is an arena suitable for a hockey team. This would also make Houston a four-sport city, which it can easily host. The only problem is no one has the desire to put a hockey team in Houston; it’s just not a hockey town. That’s sad, because I really think a good hockey team could thrive in a city like Houston. Move the Flames down to Houston and rename the team the Houston Heat. Fantastic possibility if anyone gains interest.

There are plenty of other options- Milwaukee, Portland and Kansas City to name a few. Brian Burke and the rest of his boys really do have a chance to relocate if they wanted. That’s obviously not what they want, though; they want to build a new arena in Calgary, but the organization has spoken. They’re not afraid to move.

Relocation worked out well the first time, as the Flames won their only Stanley Cup in their eighth season in Calgary. With young guys like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett, Matt Tkachuk and many other young prospects, this team will definitely be a Cup contender in the next few years. It’s up to the city of Calgary to decide whether the parade will be there or not.

Side note: Embarrassing 6-0 L for the Preds last night, I don’t think they’re bouncing back from this. The Cup is going back to Pittsburgh. Kill me now before I have to watch it happen.

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