On Wednesday, the report that the possibility of NHL team expanding or relocating to Las Vegas was suddenly ignited, and the possibility of three more teams being added to league by 2017 had reportedly been discussed. The cities gaining teams would be Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City, and another Toronto team.
So would this make sense?
Yes and no. See, a city within the USA that needs a hockey would be Seattle. That’s priority one. If the NHL feels that Canada needs more teams, then put a team in Quebec City. Honestly, I don’t think you can put a team in Seattle until they get a NBA team. That way you can have one arena, and the city, leagues, and fans don’t have to pay for two.
Las Vegas really doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think there is a big enough fan base for hockey there, and Las Vegas has a population of just under 600,000. To me, it’s a little risky to have the first sport in a large US city be a hockey team, just because hockey hasn’t grown to proportions like football and basketball yet.
A multiple city expansion means a couple of things. A massive purchase of arenas, uniforms, players. It would be something the that NHL would have to heavily invest in. The league would have 34 teams, more than any other sport. More teams mean more games, and that is the last thing the league needs. If you add multiple teams, you have to shorten the schedule. I believe they could go as far down as 65 games, but 70 seems more likely.
Another possibility of more teams could mean a higher salary cap, which could give players a higher average salary. The cap for this season is set at $69 million, which is decent, but wasn’t what owners were looking for. This is definitely something that wouldn’t occur for sometime.
The idea of two Toronto teams is another aspect of this proposal that I disagree with. Toronto is the where the leagues headquarters are, but two teams of one sport in one city is something that huge cities are capable of. Cities like New York and Los Angeles are capable of that because of their population. Toronto’s population is 2.5 million, but it’s not a American city. The Maple Leafs haven’t been very successful lately, or really since the 1990’s. The Maple Leafs are the heart and sole the city and the NHL, and are the most valuable franchise in the league. I don’t think you would want to ruin that.
If this mass expansion were to include a Canadian city, Quebec City is the most ideal, and the most deserving Canadian city. Quebec City lost their team in 1995, when they became they Colorado Avalanche. Hockey is big there. With many junior leagues around town, the fans there would be ecstatic to have a NHL team again. A plus in their pitch to the NHL is that a stadium is already under construction in Quebec City, and it is scheduled to open in September of next year. It’s purpose is rumored to be for a NHL team at some point.
Back in the USA, Seattle, as said before, is the best place for a team. It’s possible one of these expansion teams could become relocation, which means moving the Panthers out of the Miami metro. The Panthers are the southern most team in the league, and hockey is not very popular down there. Look at what happened to the Thrashers in Atlanta.
A rumor that I am having trouble believing is Kansas City’s bid for a NHL team. I don’t think they can get one. Kansas City has a small population within it’s metro are with 2.3 million, and I don’t think anyone is really pushing for a team there. They have the Sprint Center in downtown, which is a very nice facility, and easily could hold hockey or basketball. Ticket sales could become a issue. The main sport their is Jayhawks basketball and NASCAR. I don’t think it’s a good place for a hockey team. Sorry, KC.
The other problem with mass expansion would be you would HAVE to have a even number of teams join. If that can’t happen, then you have to call it off. It’s to complicated to have a uneven amount of teams.
My overall thought? This is a ways off, if it’s going to happen. Honestly, anything over 32 teams is a lot. So add Seattle and Quebec City, both expansion, and see how it goes. That’s my proposal. Las Vegas is just to risky, and Toronto isn’t deserving of two teams. Make it fair.