Whatever the opponents of a seventh hockey franchise might say, there's one thing they can't refute: there are certainly enough hockey players in Canada to fill such a team. A large percentage of Canadians play hockey. Many play on backyard rinks or frozen ponds, but more partake on the smooth ice inside their local arenas. This article should give you an idea of what local arenas mean to Canadian hockey fans.
Local arenas are where hockey legends like Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretsky can get their start. Local arenas offer ice time to junior hockey leagues and to groups giving lessons on ice skating and playing hockey. This gives children who might otherwise be limited to reading about hockey on their favorite blog the chance to participate in the game on smooth manufactured ice rather than on bumpy natural ice. For some of them, this may be the time when they develop their skills to the point where they have a chance at going pro.
The local area is also a place where the hockey loving community can gather. Junior league games, old timers' league games, semi-pro league games, and junior professional league games all take place at local arenas. Fans of hockey can often attend these games free of charge to watch their friends, relatives, and neighbors play the game. These fans include adults as well as small children who might see something they like and decide to grow up to play professional hockey on Canada's seventh NHL team.
Local arenas are more than just a place for kids to play hockey. Once funded and built, they become a hub of the community. Many residents are at the arena at the break of dawn, hot coffee in hand, for their kids' practice, but there are many other times during and post season where people gather here for town activities and events. One of the many reasons you see so many local businesses advertising on the boards around the rink (like LeasideDentist.ca.)
It's not only the local community members that gather to watch youngsters play in their junior league games, however. Games at the local arena are also perfect venues for scouts from universities and professional teams of all levels to come and see new talent. A teenage boy living in Toronto for example, may not achieve his dream of playing in the NHL just by playing league games at a local arena, but he may catch the eye of a junior pro team manager or of a recruiter for one of the many European hockey leagues.
So when it comes to the question of whether or not Canada should have a seventh NHL team, we should put the question to those people whose lives revolve around the local rink.