Kansas City back on the NHL Trail
July 28, 2004 -- Canadian Press

The former founder of the Hartford Whalers says he's in the process of putting together an ownership group to try and bring NHL hockey back to Kansas City.

Howard Baldwin, who founded the Whalers in 1972 and was part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1992-98, says the deal is contingent upon a new arena proposal being approved.

"If I get back in the NHL, I would like to own a part of the club," Baldwin tells the Kansas City Star.

"I'm a strong believer in local ownership. But you also need somebody who knows what the heck they're doing, and supposedly I do. I'm still close to (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman, and I know the league itself believes in Kansas City."

Baldwin adds the NHL has no immediate plans for expansion in the forseeable future but doesn't rule out moving an existing franchise.

"It would be inappropriate for me to identify a team because the team would be mad and say, 'How dare you say?'" said Baldwin.

"There are opportunities out there. You've got to work hard and find the right opportunity, pursue that opportunity, and when you get it, then you're in business."

Ironically, one of the teams mentioned as candidates for relocation has ties to Baldwin - the Penguins.

Pittsburgh's lease at their current arena is set to expire in 2007, the same year that the new Sprint Center in Kansas City is set to open. The Penguins, who averaged a league-worst 11,877 in attendance last season, have been talking about the need for a new arena for several years.

Besides Baldwin, a group calling itself NHL21 is also working towards luring an NHL team to Kansas City.

The Kansas City Scouts played two seasons in the NHL from 1974 to 1976, compiling a record of 27 wins, 110 losses and 23 ties before the team moved to Colorado to become the Rockies.