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As the NHL season starts Wednesday, economic drama off the ice presents a challenge for the whole league, particularly Canadian teams. Low oil prices are helping drive Canada’s dollar down around 30 percent from its five-year highs against the U.S. dollar. That means big trouble for hockey, with its large Canadian presence.
Player contracts and the league’s salary cap are in American dollars. But hockey clubs located in Canada make money from ticket, food and beverage sales to fans paying Canadian dollars — leaving them financially squeezed.
Canadian hockey fans worry money troubles could hit hard, even driving Canadian franchises to relocate to America, as they have done before.
For William Watson, a McGill University economist who describes himself as having Montreal Canadiens “bleu-blanc-rouge” in his blood, the weak currency also raises fears that Canadian teams will have trouble winning championships.
“If there is a financial squeeze on the franchises, are they going to be able to buy the players that they need in order to get to the Stanley Cup?” he wonders. “Will it be another 20 years before we see a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup?”
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