Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hockey exchange

So I say my blog is sometimes not about science. Just because that hasn't been true so far doesn't mean it will never be true. Like today for example.

Last year, as the Canadian dollar began to soar, I started wondering what this would mean for NHL teams north of the border, particularly my beloved Habs. NHL teams operating in Canada have certain economic disadvantages that aren't immediately apparent, such as higher tax rates that discourage players from wanting to maintain a residence here, and the recently eliminated problem that they had to pay ridiculous exchange rates to convert their income to pay salaries in US dollars.

Our newly-equalized currencies are changing the face of hockey (and the Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays franchises). Combined with a skyrocketing salary cap, and good performances from most of the Canadian teams since the lockout, teams north of the border are effectively rolling in money and opportunities to sign big-name talent - look at Edmonton's offers last summer for Vanek and then Dustin Penner; Montreal's recent acquisition of Alex Tanguay and current negotiations with Mats Sundin. And bet that the Maple Leafs, once they finish gutting their entire organization (Wellwood on waivers? Really?), will have a lot of money for big contract with a young gunner they can groom as the next captain.

Despite the damage to our tourism and export industries, our current exchange rate might be pointing us to a renaissance of Canadian hockey, where Canadian teams can expect to win a Cup every so often (if they can beat Detroit) , to sell out every game (as Montreal has done since the lockout) , and to have top talent knocking on their doors. Then maybe Jim Balsillie can finally have an NHL franchise in Hamilton, and maybe Winnipeg could attract a team back there.

Go Jets.

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