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Do High Taxes Keep Teams From Winning Championships?

Conveniently, the CTF's analysis fails to acknowledge that, since 2000, California teams have won the Cup twice (Anaheim in 2007 and Los Angeles in 2012) and the Devils, from tax-loving New Jersey (only the California teams and the Minnesota Wild pay their players less after taxes), also went all the way twice, in 2000 and 2003. New Jersey has lost two Cups since 2000. Anaheim made a losing appearance in the finals in 2003.

So, while there is a well-chronicled Cup drought in Canada, there isn't necessarily one across the NHL among teams in states with relatively crappy take-home pay.

The CTF also glosses over -- actually I don't think it made mention of -- the woes the two most-tax friendly teams have had in recent years. Calgary and Edmonton haven't done much since the 1980s, save what now feels like flash-in-the-pan Stanley Cup appearances in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

The CTF could have been a bit more fair if it had speculated past its agenda.

Maybe NHL players opt for Canadian markets such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver because there are more lucrative endorsements and other money-making activities available on the side. Same goes for big hockey cities (in size and/or fan passion) with hefty taxes like New York, New Jersey, Buffalo and Minnesota. Quality of life also matters. It's not that the most tax-advantageous places aren't nice places to live, but there's something to be said for living and playing in California, New York and Canada's two largest urban centers, Toronto and Montreal.

But, none of that matters to groups like the CTF. Using the same-style rhetoric Jarvis and Gann used to dupe California with Proposition 13 in 1978 (go look it up!), the CTF merely wants to push its agenda. At the end of its rant the CTF concedes:

This paper does not claim that lower taxes will automatically lead to a successful NHL franchise.

Right. We just wanted to hit your hot button on taxes so that, maybe, somewhere down the line, you'll support one of our initiatives for lower taxes. What better way than to loosely tie high taxes to the fact that Canadian hockey teams haven't won a Cup since Montreal did in 1993 -- yes, the tax-hampered Canadians in the nation's most politically absurd province, Quebec.

I have an alternative explanation for why Canadian franchises haven't had as much success as many, though hardly all, of their American counterparts.

Canadian fans go to hockey games no matter what. There's less incentive for ownership groups to put competitive teams on the ice -- regardless of how much they spend in the process -- when they know the seats will always be filled, as is the case across the country.

I'm not going to make the same mistake the CTF did and claim this is the reason why, while backtracking to say that it only likely contributes. I don't believe that's the case. However, the CTF needs to bring a lot more to the table to convince me that its weak, and largely cherry-picked anecdotal argument, is any better than mine.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.
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