While it hasn’t officially been announced, on Wednesday NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the league will be taking bids for possible future expansion teams. I thought we could take a look at each potential market in no particular order.
There is a ton of interest in giving Las Vegas and Southern Nevada a professional hockey franchise and construction is already underway on an arena that will be NHL ready.Bill Foley,the would-be owner, has collected 13,000 season ticket commitments.
While a potential future hockey may be the only sports game in town, there are obstacles. This is a town and an area that’s not short on entertainment options and also a big portion of the populus works at night.
There is,however,a lot of interest and potential owners lining up to give Sin City an NHL team and they are a strong candidate.
Seattle has a long history with hockey and would have quite a large fanbase that’s enthusiastic about the game and the sport. Also, a natural rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks would be great.
My concerns are with where the team would play temporarily in the meantime while their new arena would be constructed.
KeyArena is one option,but is not suitable for hockey,not even in the short term. With poor sightlines and a curtained off section on one end of the ice wouldn’t look great on television.
Chris Hansen,who tried to lure the Sacramento Kings a couple of years ago to replace the gone,but not forgotten SuperSonics, has to have an NBA team in place before a new arena gets built,according to a Memorandum of Understanding he has with the city, unless of course, the language in it gets changed.
Some are saying Houston may be the best market for an NHL expansion team due to the fact that the city is the largest market in the United States without a professional hockey franchise.
Houston has had pro hockey in the form of the Houston Aeros of the AHL (there was also a team of the same name in the WHA in the 1970s),who played in the Toyota Center until 2013 when the team moved to Iowa. We know that the city has an arena that’s ready to host an NHL franchise and the Dallas Stars are proof that hockey can succeed in Texas.
Unfortunately, the lease agreement with the Toyota Center gives the Houston Rockets the rights to any NHL team that plays there and their owner doesn’t have any interest in the NHL at press time.
The NHL has not been in Quebec City for two decades now and an NHL-ready arena opens this year. A great fanbase resides here and a rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens would be renewed. The challenge,however,is that the team would be in the Eastern Conference which already has two more teams than the Western Conference. Barring a current Eastern team (Detroit,maybe?) going West, I don’t see an Eastern expansion team coming there. Maybe a team relocates there (Florida?), who knows?
This is kind of my King of Wishful Thinking pick for a future team. But why not revive a franchise that had a lot of fans should still be in the league? The cons of this are of course that the Bruins wouldn’t want any part of having another team in their backyard although it would be a fantastic rivalry,and also there would need to be a new building in place of The Hartford Civic Center.
If the Whalers ever came back,this song needs to as well!
Kansas City has been in the market for a team for years. They once had an NHL franchise,the Scouts,from 1974-76 before they moved to Denver (and are now the New Jersey Devils) due to low attendance.
That was then,this is now. The city has a great arena in the Sprint Center,which is ready for an NHL team to come in and play and they would have a great intrastate rivalry with the St. Louis Blues. The question is whether or not there’s a prospective owner ready to bring NHL hockey back to the city or if the Blues would be okay with another team in the state.
Also,will fans be interested? Sure,they came to a couple of exhibition games hosted there in recent years,but will they attend 41 home dates. That remains to be seen.
In my view, the league looks like it is expanding. The imbalance of teams in the Western Conference almost make it necessary for two more clubs to be added to the West.