There was a time when the idea of an NHL franchise in Saskatoon would have been worth little more than a cheap laugh. But the unexpected bid has gained some steam this year, to the point where some impressive individuals have thrown their support behind it. With the strong early returns in Winnipeg setting a precedent for potential success in a small market, the notion is worth at least a beard stroke these days.
It's still a long shot, to be certain. The Conference Board of Canada reports that an NHL franchise couldn't survive with a population base below Winnipeg's 750,000, and Saskatoon's population base is about one-third that size. But if there's one big reason that you should be rooting for On Ice Management, the group trying to bring another NHL franchise to the Canadian Prairies, it's John Graham, the man at the front of it.
This guy is Dos Equis interesting. If his group's bid was ever accepted, he would instantly become hockey's most intriguing owner. From Kevin Mitchell at Saskatoon's Star Phoenix:
He's played professional hockey in Sweden, beat cancer, broken down in the Sahara Desert while racing the infamous Paris to Dakar rally, pulled an unconscious fellow driver out of a burnt car during a race, and both introduced and nearly killed junior hockey in Moncton.http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/john-graham-man-behind-saskatoon-nhl-bid-could-193556025.html;_ylt=ApvfAgKcOVFnDycwbNhCfkyRbcp_;_ylu=X3oDMTFja3NwYTFmBG1pdANCbG9ncyBJbmRleARwb3MDMQRzZWMDTWVkaWFCbG9nSW5kZXhUZW1w;_ylg=X3oDMTFvcGs0cnBnBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANibG9nBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3?cmp=fb