In the 1982-83 season of the National Hockey League, the St. Louis Blues almost re-located to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for the 1983-84 NHL season. The Blues, who were financially struggling, was being sold by St. Louis-based pet food conglomerate Ralston-Purina in agreement to Bill Hunter, a Saskatoon native known for founding the World Hockey Association. Despite these efforts, the NHL's Board of Governors vetoed the relocation bid 15-3 in a meeting in New York on May 18, 1983. The pet food giant then abandoned the franchise as it became the only NHL franchise to miss out on an NHL Entry Draft, and the Blues were eventually bought by Harry Ornest (a Los Angeles businessman who pledged to keep the Blues in St. Louis) in an eleventh-hour deal.
However, what if the St. Louis Blues did re-locate to Saskatoon in 1983? In this alternate history, we'll be looking at the points of divergence that lead to a successful Blues re-location, the re-location's effects on St. Louis, Saskatoon and the NHL, and the altered evolution of hockey. This timeline begins in 1979 and will last through 2015.
- A major point of divergence concerns Bill Hunter and his efforts to land the Blues in Saskatoon. In OTL, he only promised people he swayed in his favor that he would plan to build a new arena as soon as the NHL approved his bid to own the franchise. In this history, he'll demonstrate much more confidence and action - which will be showcased in this timeline.
- Another point of divergence focuses on the Ralston-Purina Company and their efforts to be rid of the franchise they saw as a major financial burden. In OTL, the company failed to go through the proper channels of brokering the sale to Bill Hunter, having alienated any possible business partners in the process. In this history, Ralston Purina teams up with ... the Anheuser-Busch company to deliver a convincing and devastating presentation to the NHL's Board of Governors on why the Blues could not succeed in St. Louis.
- A somewhat minor point of divergence allows the NHL to treat Bill Hunter & co. more ethically, as opposed to OTL where Hunter was considered a joke and persona non grata because he helped start the WHA, which was the NHL's rival in the 1970s.
- This relocation will have adverse effects on the landscape of the National Hockey League and hockey in general, as well as certain economies. Learn more as we journey through this history of how Saskatoon managed to land an NHL franchise in 1983.