Penguins Notebook: Sabres keep eyes on possible 'second' Toronto team

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The Penguins' opponent last night has a keen interest in an NHL topic that keeps surfacing -- whether, or perhaps when, a second team will be placed in the greater Toronto area.

That's because the Buffalo Sabres' fan base stretches into southern Ontario.

The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto recently set the value of a team that would be placed in or around Toronto at $600 million, which would instantly rank it third behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly last week told Canadian cable network TSN, "I don't think anybody would argue the fact that Toronto could support a second team. The question is, do we want to create yet another team or do we want to relocate a franchise, and the answer to both of those questions is 'no' right now."

A couple of Penguins from Ontario seem sure southern Ontario could support more than one team.

"Demographics say it would work," said winger Matt Cooke, who is from Belleville, Ontario, north of Toronto.

"The biggest question is the corporate support, but Toronto's a major hub for that anyway."

Although Hamilton, south of Toronto, has been mentioned as a possible NHL host city for decades, it falls within the territorial rights of the Sabres.

It's not clear whether a new or relocated team would be in Toronto -- where the metropolitan area has expanded in several directions in recent years -- or in the surrounding area of the province.

A team within the Maple Leafs' territory would bring them a subsidy, but likely would not put a dent in their fan base.

"I think a second team would do well in Toronto. I really do," said Penguins center Mike Zigomanis, who grew up in Toronto.

"If not there, I think someplace like Hamilton or just west of the city or I think even somewhere north of the city might be able to handle a team.

"There's such a great tradition of hockey in Toronto with the Maple Leafs. I remember growing up, it was an impossible ticket to get.

"If a team's not working in another market, why not try it?"

Bissonnette sent to WBS

The Penguins assigned rookie forward Paul Bissonnette to their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton minor-league club. He cleared waivers in order to report to the Baby Penguins.

Bissonnette made the team at the start of the season, but played in only six games and had been scratched for the previous six. He had no points.

"He's a young player. He needs to play," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.

"There's no sense to keep a player here in Pittsburgh if he isn't playing."

With only 21 players on the roster, the Penguins had just one healthy scratch, defenseman Darryl Sydor for the the 75th consecutive sold out game at Mellon Arena.

Buffalo's scratches were forwards Alex Kotalik and Tim Connolly and defenseman Nathan Paetsch.

Men in blue

The Penguins wore blue uniforms as a third jersey for the first time. The only other time in more than 20 years they wore blue was in the Winter Classic New Year's Day in Buffalo.

Center Sidney Crosby scored the deciding shootout goal in that outdoor game for a 2-1 Penguins win, but given the snowy weather, slushy ice and the shot he slid under Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, he didn't know immediately that he had won the game.

"It took me kind of a little bit of time to realize because it went under him, so I wasn't sure if it went through the five-hole or if he got his leg on it," Crosby recalled.

"But it was a great feeling. A little bit of a delayed reaction, but a fun feeling."

Shelly Anderson can be reached at or 412-263-1721.


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