If you were to look down the list of National Lacrosse League teams, you'd find that Colorado and Buffalo are by far the two most successful teams at the gate. The two teams combined to draw roughly 16,500 fans per game between them. The other eight teams in the league last season combined to average under half that amount, at just a hare above 8,000 fans per game. Why is this relevant to the NHL? Because both teams share their ownership with NHL teams. The Buffalo Bandits were recently purchased by Terry Pegula when he bought the Sabres and the Colorado Mammoth are owned by the Kroenke family (owners of the Colorado Avalanche NHL, Denver Nuggets NBA, Colorado Rapids MLS, St. Louis Rams NFL, FC Arsenal). Most agree that the reason the two NHL-affiliated teams do the best is because they have access to the resources of the larger teams. They have more pull with advertisers, they have more marketing money, they have the majority of their games on live television... but most importantly, they get to keep their concessions/parking revenue, and they don't have to worry about expensive arena leases. I think there are many NHL teams that could benefit from running an NLL franchise. There is very little risk involved as the costs associated with running an NLL team are minuscule compared to the NHL. The Calgary Flames seem to agree, as they saved the NLL's Calgary Roughnecks from folding earlier this year by purchasing the team outright. According to the Roughnecks' former owner, it cost him 2-3 million dollars annually to run the team. And again, he had no access to parking or concession revenue nor did he have one iota of the credibility that the Calgary Flames brand has. The Flames have said they believe 17,000 fans per game is a possibility for the Roughnecks in their first year of new ownership, which would be a jump of nearly 7,000 fans per game over last season. Going the other direction, the NLL's Boston Blazers recently announced that they are suspending operations for the 2012 season in hopes of returning in 2013. They specifically cited the cost of the TD Garden as the reason. Rumors are floating in the NLL community that the Blazers were paying as much as 60,000 dollars per game in rent alone and were not being given access to any parking or concessions. The Blazers ownership is already talking with other arenas in the Boston area as well as ones in Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire for possible destinations for the team. I think the Bruins missed an easy opportunity here. They are riding high off their recent Stanley Cup victory, and it'd be a good PR move to come to the aid of a local franchise that is struggling not due to fan support (the Blazers averaged nearly 9,000 fans last season which was a 5% increase over the previous year), but due to the Bruins and the TD Garden (who share the same parent company) squeezing them out. Does anyone honestly think that the Bruins couldn't turn that ship around and run it at a healthy profit much like the Flames are expected to do in Calgary? But with the Blazers being out of side, out of mind for the season there are a few specific teams and markets that the NHL should look at: Edmonton Rush - Founded in 2005, the Rush share a home arena with the Oilers. They have historically averaged 7-10 thousand fans per game. Much like the Oilers do with the Flames, the Rush share a regional and divisional rivalry with their Calgary counterparts (the Roughnecks). If the Oilers were to buy out the Rush they could expand on the whole Edmonton v. Calgary thing. The Rush would be a cheap pickup for the Oilers and they'd provide another tenant for their proposed new arena. Philadelphia Wings - This one is an absolute no-brainer. The current incarnation of the Wings has played 25 seasons and the team's name and logo traces its lineage back to 1974. Once the proudest and most popular team in the league, they've struggled in recent years due to the team not winning a playoff game since 2001 and finishing at or near dead last in the league several times over the timespan. But the team shares a home arena with the 76ers and Flyers, both of whom were just purchased by Comcast Spectator. The Wings' home games are already broadcast by CSN, so this seems like a no-brainer to me. Minnesota Swarm - Another one of the NLL teams that is inching its way, ever-so-slowly, towards stability. The Swarm's attendance dropped in 2011, but team ownership says revenues actually increased over the previous season due to a sharp reduction in the number of comped tickets. The Wild's current owner is seeking new investors, so this might be a move that could wait until things are a bit more "normal", but this again seems like a very low-risk proposition. That covers all the markets which have both an NLL and NHL team except Toronto. The Toronto Rock have historically been a stable franchise, and they will likely see attendance increases next season after winning the NLL Championship this year and starting construction on a new multimillion dollar lacrosse facility which will serve many purposes. The Leafs don't need the revenue and the Rock seem to be happy as an independent franchise, so I think that one is fine as-is. But what about other NHL teams? Are there markets that could do well with NLL expansion? I think so. The most obvious choice is Vancouver. The Cancucks are insanely popular and British Columbia is historically a stronghold for lacrosse popularity. The NLL has tried and failed in the market once before with the Ravens, but they didn't have the benefit of NHL ownership. What do you guys think? Agree/disagree with anything I said? Keep in mind that I am not suggesting NLL ownership for ALL NHL markets, as it would likely have disastrous results in many cities. Nor am I suggesting that NLL ownership is in any way a solution to any NHL team's major problems; just that I believe there are certain NHL teams that could operate an NLL team at a profit with very little risk or investment.