Two Team Dream
By Max Toth The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in the play-offs and look to be on track to avenge the heartbreaking losses of post-season runs gone by.
If the Leafs do win the Stanley Cup this year, it’ll be a return to glory for the NHL's premier market. But while cities like New York and Los Angeles have been blessed with dual squads in every major sport, Toronto has been left as a one team show.
So it begs the question, could Toronto have a second NHL team and if so, what would it look like?
I realize that It’s not easy establishing a second team (money, politics, etc.), but there is a blueprint to follow. For one thing, the team's location has a huge impact on its overall success. This two team relationship would be similar to New York’s Mets/Yankees and Los Angeles’ Clippers/Lakers, where one team is an established franchise that has become a part of the identity of their respective cities, while the other is a scrappy start-up. This new Toronto team would want to be more like the Mets than the Clippers and where they would play could help them get there. This team would not thrive if they shared Scotiabank Arena with the Leafs in the same manner that the Clippers split Staples Center with the Lakers. The Clippers have always felt like the “little brother” to the Lakers and sharing an arena where the Lakers have made six championship runs is a big part of that.
The Mets, meanwhile, have always had their own home and while they’ve never been nearly as successful as the Yankees, they’ve been able to establish their own fanbase and identity from having their own part of New York (Queens).
Luckily for Toronto, they actually have the perfect place for a new NHL team to play. Mississauga is just a half hour away from Toronto and is right next to hockey-hungry suburbs like Oakville, Markham and Vaughan. Plus, the population of Mississauga is actually larger than that of Winnipeg and Ottawa. People living in the suburbs of Toronto aren’t always fond of their big-city neighbors, so it’s not a stretch to believe that they'd be willing to support a team that feels more like their own over the Leafs, who sometimes feel like the personification of Toronto’s despised "1%".
But it’s not just fans in surrounding towns who would give the team support.
The Leafs have some of the most expensive tickets in pro sports, which have priced many families out of the opportunity to see NHL action. As an expansion team, the tickets would be much cheaper, so the team would be able to attract Toronto families and other middle class citizens to make the trip to Mississauga, especially for matchups against the Leafs, which would definitely be marquee "Hockey Night in Canada" telecasts.
It’s very unlikely a second NHL team is coming to Toronto in the near future, but with recent expansion in Las Vegas and Seattle and struggling teams like the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers that could seek a new home soon, it’s still possible we could one day see a second team in the Six.
And if that's the case?
Sign me up for a season ticket.
Although, with my dad being a loyal Leafs fan, I might have to wait to get my driver's licence so I can actually make that trip to Mississauga.