Let’s discuss a topic that I’ve been busy digesting since it first surfaced one week ago. That topic is of course the recently suggested NHL expansion to not one, not two, not even three, but four locations: Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City, and Toronto.
This story kicked off on my watch with a report that an NHL expansion to Las Vegas was a, “done deal,” according to sources. No word if those sources were these guys or not but, fact of the matter was, that triggered more response on the matter of league expansion with the other proposed cities entering the mix – including a date of 2017 in mind.
The NHL league offices had a response to the Las Vegas “done deal” report. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told Sports Illustrated that, “It’s not in our plans, there is absolutely nothing new in that.” He also cooled thoughts on a franchise such as the Florida Panthers packing up and heading West in that same article.
It is all very cloudy days for this idea of a 2017 NHL expansion. My thoughts on the matter consist of a multitude of questions on the proposed expansion. Does the NHL really need an expansion of any type? Is there a better possibility for particular teams to move rather than add more bulk to the league? If this were all set in stone fact, does Toronto really need another team – would a professional franchise survive in Las Vegas – does this mean another divisional realignment? I could rattle on and on and on.
Out of the four proposed expansion cities there are two that I think would work rather well: Seattle and Quebec. Seattle, on location alone, presents a great city and location to create good new rivalries on the West Coast. And for Quebec – some may say it’s long overdue to get hockey back there in the same vein as the Winnipeg Jets franchise might echo.
Toronto? They have the Maple Leafs with a nearby rival in the Ottawa Senators. Is another team in the same city as a long standing original six franchise really going to be all that popular among fans in Toronto? If the NHL had that rationale they may as well plop another franchise in Chicago for a laugh and the money.
Las Vegas is a really fascinating location for any professional sports franchise. It just hasn’t been all that tested. No offense Las Vegas Outlaws. I want to say, of all professional sports in North America, that less stupid activities within that city would occur with hockey players. Yet, there is plenty of potential headaches to deal with. One of them might just be the appeal of even having a professional franchise in such a tourist location. What would the long term draw be for a Las Vegas hockey team? Are we talking about something that hits the ground running and stays or just another desert based calamity of poor fan support? After all, the last season the newly named Arizona Coyotes weren’t in the bottom three of league attendance was in 2006-07 when they finished a strong twenty-fourth out of thirty teams. In short, it’d be fun to see if it could work – it just probably would plummet financially like, I don’t know, the Coyotes have year after year.
What are your impressions of a possible NHL expansion? Will it happen? Should it happen? Which of the four cities would you most like to see gain a hockey franchise?