Re: NHL Expansion
posted at 12/19/2013 2:37 PM EST
In response to red75's comment:
I think Quebec is a strong relocation possibility - keep them in the league's back pocket so when an issue arises they have a go to spot, similar to how they worked with Winnipeg. Also, since the most likely candidates for relocation are in the East, that would solve any realignment headaches.
So if you're looking at filling the West spots through expansion, and taking Quebec off the table, then Seattle seems like a lock and I can think of 7 other candidates for the other slot in the West.
A city with a reasonable hockey history (Winterhawks) and an extremely deep-pocketed potential owner. Not that long ago a spokesperson for Allen said he was "intrigued" by the idea of bringing the NHL to Portland, so that is a possibility. Geographically it's a fit, but assuming Seattle gets a franchise, it would force a team to move to the Central. Not of the Pacific teams would move over to play CT teams, so that leaves one of the 3 MT teams to join Colorado in the Central. Tehere would be riots if the split up Calgary and Edmonton, so Phoenix would be the one going to the Central.
This is the one that makes the most sense demographically and has by far the largest existing hockey fanbase and the strongest ties to the sport. They also have a potential owner in Turer, the current owner of the Admirals. That gives him a leg-up similar to Mark Chipman in that he's proven he can be successful in the business of hockey. But the mark against them, and it's a big one, is the Bradley Centre. It's simply not suitable for NHL hockey. Until the get a replacement building, or at least concrete plans for one, it won't happen.
Little existing hockey culture, and Dallas's finacial situation over recent years should be a bit of a red flag for expansion to Texas. But the appeal of going to Houston is obvious - it's the largest population centre and media market in North America without an NHL team, which could get Bettman drooling.
Lots and lots of money flows through the town in pockets of toruists, and it would be the only major sports team in the city. But the arguments for Vegas seem to rely on out-of-towners, and I think there may be significant issues in regards to building a local fanbase. Also, there are 50 million options in Vegas for spending your entertainment budget. Would hockey team be able to effectively compete for those dollars?
They have the building, but nothing else. I simply don't think it's viable.
In another 20 years given its population growth, it's a good bet. But the population base just isn't there yet.
Despite it's Eastern Time Zone location, this is still an option and could aleviate some competitive concerns with the Maple Leafs. Remember, a Tornot team has played in the West before. Eric Duhatshek had a good article on this option a few days ago in the Globe and Mail. Here's an excerpt.
"Think about it. Once upon a time, the Maple Leafs played in the Western Conference, so there is a precedent for Toronto playing in the same division as the Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues.
If somebody has to go west, it should be the newest addition, not a venerable franchise such as Detroit that dealt with the travel and time zone issues for years, or even Columbus, which doesn’t have the history, but also had to deal with bad starting times for TV contracts and excessive travel.
That would be part of the price – and the penance – for getting a second team in Toronto. And it doesn’t mean the second GTA team wouldn’t play the Leafs or Montreal Canadiens or Ottawa Senators. It just wouldn’t play them as much.
There is also some question as to whether the NHL needs to satisfy the Leafs financially if it invades their so-called “territorial” rights.
Well, the Leafs probably wouldn’t want to compete head-to-head with a second Toronto team, but if that team were in the other conference, it might make it more palatable. They would never square off in the playoffs – unless both were in the Stanley Cup final – so they could keep the new kids on the block relatively at arm’s length."
I think Duhatschek makes a good argument. But it hurts Colorado too, having to play division games to time zone away like Dallas used to do. There'd be some screaming from Denver over this move.
Good write up Red, just about covers it.