When it comes to the traditional major leagues in North America, Canada often finds itself underrepresented. With the exception of the National Hockey League, Canada has just a combined five teams in the MLB, NBA, MLS and NFL, with Toronto making up three of those teams and no Canadian team in the NFL.
While we are far, far away (as of July 2022) from any sort of plans to add any Canadian teams to any league, it’s always fun to speculate the addition of what new Canadian teams will join the major leagues. Including the aforementioned NHL, here is a fun thought experiment that involves adding one Canadian team, to each one of the five major North American leagues.
NFL – Toronto
Probably the most controversial inclusion, the NFL coming to Toronto is the rumour that just doesn’t seem to die. The attractions of Toronto to the NFL are obvious. It’s a huge TV market and has proven successful in other sports, with MLB’s Blue Jays and the NBA’s Raptors proving that Toronto is a more than viable sports market.
While the building of what would almost certainly be a billion-dollar stadium is a hard sell, you could, in theory, bring in an NFL team to Toronto tomorrow and they could play tomorrow out of Rogers Centre. Whilst primarily a baseball stadium, Rogers Centre for nearly thirty years was the home of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, and from 2008-2013, the Buffalo Bills played one regular-season game a season at the 52,230-seater stadium. Whilst I don’t think this will ever happen, it seems to be an NFL expansion rumour that just refuses to go away, and perhaps it never will.
Potential name: Toronto Argonauts – Because an NFL team in Toronto would almost certainly kill the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, it would be nice to see the NFL version keep the name and double blue colours if at all possible.
MLB – Vancouver
Since 2004, Canada famously has had just one baseball team, and the Blue Jays have been adopted as Canada’s team. But Canada has had two teams before, and geographically, is huge, and could easily support another team. Step forward, Vancouver. The idea of Vancouver getting a new MLB team has been publicly discussed before. In 2018, MLB commissioner Rod Manfred noted that Vancouver was one of the potential cities in which the MLB could expand into. Adding another team to the MLB’s West Coast would make perfect sense. It would give the Seattle Mariners a geographic rival – which we’ve seen do wonders for the sport in MLS and will likely do the same for the NHL in the coming years.
There would also be a battle of Canada with the Jays too that could capture the imagination of baseball fans throughout Canada. It would also make road trips out west more economical for teams out east as well, effectively giving teams two road trip series (Vancouver and Seattle) for the price of one flight. BC Place was built with the possibility of hosting an MLB team in mind, and while it would be far from ideal, its readiness and crucially for Vancouver. The roof would make an MLB expansion team ready to play in Van city as soon as tomorrow while a new stadium is built.
Meanwhile, the reason why I don’t think basketball is more likely to come to Vancouver is that Seattle is just as (if not more) hungry for basketball to come back to their city, and I can imagine if it came down to the two cities, Seattle would have the edge.
Potential name: Vancouver Kermodes – The Kermode Bear (also known as the spirit bear) is a subspecies of black bear that is only found in British Columbia and is the official provincial mammal. A bear-related name would also be an homage to the city’s old NBA team, the Vancouver Grizzlies.
NBA – Montreal
Whilst some people will be clamouring for an MLB team to return to the city, the current condition of Olympic Stadium makes a return of MLB baseball highly unlikely. Meanwhile, at 21,105, Montreal’s Bell Centre is the largest ice hockey stadium in the world. It would also immediately be the largest stadium in the NBA, which already makes Canada’s second-largest city an attractive option for the NBA.
With a metro population of 4,291,732 and a proven record of having a passionate fan base for their sports teams, Montreal would be a very smart and safe choice for any NBA expansion. Naturally, a rivalry would develop with Toronto as it has in almost every other sport the two cities compete against each other in, but there is also the possibility of igniting the hockey rivalry between Montreal and Boston on the hard court. The inventor of Basketball James Naismith studied and taught physical education in Montreal, and what better way to honour the godfather of the sport than by giving Montreal an NBA team?
Potential name: Montreal Lynx – A wildcat that is prevalent in the forests of Quebec. Lynx is pronounced the same in French and English, which would make it perfect for marketing the team to both Francophones and Anglophones.
NHL – Quebec City
Like Toronto with the NFL, this is just one potential team that just won’t go away. From 1979-1995, The Quebec Nordiques were an NHL team that was beloved by the city, but was ultimately relocated to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche. Since then, there have been many calls for hockey to come back to Quebec City, with some notable instances being their 2015 expansion bid, and the Quebec provincial government publicly stating to the NHL that they want the NHL back in their city at the start of 2022.
In 2015, Quebec City officially opened the Videotron Centre, an 18,250-capacity arena that was built with the intention of luring the NHL back. The most likely way Quebec gets a team is probably through relocation, and with the Arizona Coyotes constantly on the edge of financial instability, the Quebec City door is one that’ll probably never be fully closed.
Potential name: Quebec Nordiques – Pretty self-explanatory. An iconic Canadian sports name with an iconic jersey. Frankly, there is no other option here.
MLS – Calgary
Of the five expansion teams mentioned, this team seems like the biggest reach, especially with the Canadian Premier League having established itself as Canada’s top-tier domestic soccer league. But if the MLS wanted to go back into the Canadian market, Calgary makes a lot of sense. It’s a growing city, that actually has a larger population than Vancouver, and speaking of which, you can have a Western Canada rivalry alongside the eastern rivalry between Montreal and Toronto.
The city itself has been a hotbed for soccer, having produced the likes of Owen Hargreaves, Joel Waterman, Sam Adekugbe, and Kevin McKenna, plus the CPL team Cavalry FC has been one of the most consistent teams on the pitch, and one of the best-supported teams off the pitch. This choice admittedly feels like a huge long shot compared to the other expansion teams mentioned, but if the MLS ever did come back to Canada, they could do a lot worse than Calgary.
S. 1 Ep. 15 – The Wonder Women of Ontario, MLS is Canadian Wet Dreams, and What's Up Cavalry – FC13 Podcast
Potential name: Calgary Cowboys – It would’ve been easy to go with Calgary FC or Calgary United, but that’s no fun! Calgary is known for its western rodeo culture, and perhaps no name better encapsulates this than the Calgary Cowboys!
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