A lot of fuss has been going on lately about the future of the Kloten Flyers. It has only been a few days since the team got swept in the first round of the NLA playoffs and we might have seen the last pro hockey game played at the Swiss Arena. Indeed, ASE Group is no longer willing to help the Flyers and they are looking to sell their ownership of the team. In recent news, we learned that an offer of CHF 1 million has been made to buy the Flyers’ license in order to relocate the team in Valais, which would be the first time a such thing would happen in Swiss hockey.
Now you might wonder why Valais would need one more hockey team when they already have two that are currently playing in the NLB. Here is the thing though. The NLB doesn’t really draw huge crowds nor much media attention expect for powerhouses like EHC Olten. Let’s be honest, the NLB isn’t that attractive for not-so-much hockey fans and remember, next year we get two more development teams that won’t be bringing more fans to the games. Whereas, the NLA is completely different and that’s why I see a huge potential in Valais; that canton is one of the biggest in the country with its biggest cities close to one another. And since most of the population lives in these cities, it wouldn’t be a long trip to the arena, regardless that the team plays in Martigny, Sierre or Sion. It is also fair to say that the canton that attracts more tourists during the winter, which is also the hockey season, is Valais. All these ski resorts that are filled with thousands of tourists are within close range of any of these cities. Thus, with a good enough advertisement campaign, that could bring even more fans to the games.
The cultural aspect is also worth mentioning. That canton is maybe the best in the country when it comes to winter activities so the population there is really fond of that, including hockey. That’s why a NLA team which has ambitions would gather quite a lot of people in that region and it could grow into a great fanbase. The way we could picture that, is kind of like Davos but with a bigger population. Therefore, bringing NLA hockey to Valais could only be a success. Even though, it would need some time to develop as they would have to build an Arena in order to be granted to play in one of Europe’s best league.