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Saskatoon is getting exhibition games again

Mar 23, 2013, 9:49 AM EDT

Jarome Iginla, Alex Burmistrov Getty Images

Life is good for hockey in Canada these days. All seven Canadian franchises are within striking distance of or in a playoff spot and pride has never been higher. Now they’re going to get exhibition games back in some cities itchy for more action.

The Canadian Press reports the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan will be getting a pair of preseason games next season. One game will feature the Ottawa Senators facing the Calgary Flames on September 16 and the Winnipeg Jets will face the Boston Bruins on September 27.

The games will take place at the 15,000 seat Credit Union Centre, home of the Saskatoon Blades junior hockey team. Unsurprisingly, this works as a move to help spread the footprint of the Winnipeg Jets across central Canada. The two cities are a healthy eight-hour drive apart.

This will also double as a means for the city of Saskatoon to show off how well it can handle pro hockey. There have been rumors in the past, both distant and more recent, about their desire to be a prairie outpost for the NHL. The city even has Don Cherry backing their cause so they’ve got that going for them.

  1. cordellanderson - Mar 23, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    I would love to see a hockey team in Saskatoon. One can only dream…

  2. hallsy19 - Mar 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Imagine being the GM that has to attract free agents with the selling point of “prairie outpost”?

    • umrguy42 - Mar 24, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      How about “location in a Guess Who song”?

  3. esracerx46 - Mar 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Having Don Cherry on your side may not be a good thing.

  4. blomfeld - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Prairie Outpost ? …

    Of course, that makes complete sense! Especially when you consider Saskatoon’s hockey “obscurity” compared to these “hotbeds” of the game like Florida, Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina and California. I always forget that Bobby Clarke was actually from Mobile Alabama, not Saskatchewan as is commonly thought! :)

    • chanceoffleury1 - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      It’s funny though, because I don’t ever remember Bobby Clarke playing for Mobile OR any Canadian franchises. He did play for one of the best hockey markets in the NHL, though. And if I do recall correctly, he still resides there to this day, so those American cities must not be too bad……

  5. chanceoffleury1 - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    As soon as they approved the realignment plan and there were 2 spots open in the west, but none in the east, I figured it would be either KC or Saskatoon paired with Seattle for the expansion. Perhaps Florida will move to Quebec City? Don’t know how you can leave them without a franchise. Out of the 4 cities I just listed, they’d probably be the most profitable and popular in the longrun. But there’s no way they’re getting an expansion any time soon with the way the realignment is set up. It’d have to be a relocation.

  6. thehighcountrybear - Mar 23, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Blomfeld, oh sainted scribe that ye be!

    I’m pretty sure Bobby Clarke was born in Manitoba…Flin Flon that is, and that’s no flim flam?

    Now Flin Flon Manitoba maaaaay qualify as an ‘outpost’…? Some truly great players, not the least of which was Reggie Leach, came from Northern Manitoba.

    The old saying goes:

    There’s only two things in Flin Flon…whores and hockey players! Oh, I see…what position did your mother play Mr. Clarke?

    • blomfeld - Mar 24, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      “Sorry Mister Tiger”

      Highcountrybear – I stand corrected, though please realize that I often just use my own brain as my Google search engine rather than the computer … and this was apparently such a time! :) Anyway, I agree completely with your analysis. I could see Saskatoon landing an NHL franchise soon, together with the likes of Quebec City, Hamilton and possibly Halifax …

  7. thehighcountrybear - Mar 23, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    As for Saskatoon being a prairie outpost unable to attract free agents…perhaps it wouldn’t need to attract anything other than home grown talent?

    Saskatchewan has sent 487 players to the NHL, not the least of those being Gordie Howe, he from Floral Saskatchewan, a short drive east of Saskatoon.

    In the present, there are 43 Saskatchewan-born players active in the NHL including Patrick Marleau and Ryan Getzlaf.

    Saskatchewan could populate two NHL franchises all by itself…placing an NHL team in Saskatoon is a no-brainer, and it would be a gold mine for the NHL. They’re simply too clueless to understand, away as they are from the roots of the game in big cities like New York…

  8. mnhockeyfan - Mar 23, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    I lived there for five years. Saskatoon has 250k residents, give or take, and 30k are college students.

    Saskatchewan is able to support the CFL team in Regina because games are on weekends and the whole province drives in for them. Weeknight games in Saskatoon would have ghastly attendance, and though there are some big corporations there with money, I can’t see box seat sales being sufficient either.

    The continued strength of the Canadian Dollar helps, but I can’t see it working. Lots of Oilers fans there, and it is a five hour drive on a nice four lane highway. That is the nearest big mall and Ikea and whatnot as well, so people travel there anyway.

    Not going to happen, IMO.

  9. thehighcountrybear - Mar 23, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    This is hockey, not football though Rider Pride should in of itself, give you an idea as to potential for support of pro hockey in Saskatchewan!

    If anything, the university kids would help fill the place on weeknights. You underestimate the extent to which people in Saskatchewan love hockey. Prince Albert and Regina are all within easy drives. Easily a third of Flames fans drive in from rural areas, and from both Red Deer and Lethbridge.

    The synergistic effect of a pro team would help in exponential development of an attending business sector…that’s at the core of any proposal, even as it’s at the core of the Oiler’s arena redevelopment proposal.

    If the NHL can rationalize pro hockey in Florida, Arizona, Texas and California, all states with virtually nothing in the way of a born and bred hockey culture and following history, how can it ignore Saskatchewan?

    To which business model do these clown subscribe…

  10. tdrusher225 - Mar 23, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    How do cities like Quebec City, Seattle, or Hamilton get overlooked for Saskatoon? I doubt luring free agents, even home-grown talent, would be easy.

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