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AHL vs. Junior Hockey: What do fans enjoy more?|
by Dave Wishart
Areas all across Canada enjoy several different skill levels of Hockey, whether itís the eight year old next doorís Saturday morning game or Mario Lemieux scoring another goal. Smaller cities, however, have trouble obtaining good teams (ie: NHL level). Well, then what does a city do? They have two choices; they can turn to the AHL, farm league of the NHL, or the junior league. One would assume that the AHL would provide a higher level of entertainment because the players are only one level below the sports greatest athletes. These players, unfortunately require higher salaries than junior players and the teams often do not remain constant the whole season, with players traveling between the NHL and AHL. The junior league has young players, not much older than high school students, playing their hearts out in hopes of going to the NHL and making a career out of hockey. This provides fans with a very entertaining and competitive level of hockey at a much more affordable price. Cities such as Halifax and Moncton have turned to junior teams because they are cheaper and bring out more fans. It would be a wise choice for any smaller city to turn to junior teams to revitalize a struggling hockey program. This is the fate that Saint John has met with the Flames. Their cost was just too high for the city to support and now theyíve disappeared like many of their predecessors. Itís an unfortunate turn of events but as long as Saint John takes on a junior team we will be able to keep Harbour Station sailing smoothly.
What baffles me though is why the flames use to sell out when they first arrived in Saint John then at the end of their existence they could barely sell enough season tickets. The nostalgia probably just wore off for Saint Johners, which is really too bad. Sadly the Ottawa Senators are facing the same crisis and they still have the potential to win the Stanley Cup. It seems that higher levels of Hockey just has trouble making the budget crunch. At the end of the day, as long as people continue to have access to good Hockey, whatever the source, all shall remain right.