The NHL came into existence as it currently is on November 26, 1917. The league was founded to remove Eddie Livingston as the owner of the Toronto Blueshirts by suspending the National Hockey Association and forming the new National Hockey League. It was not until the 1942-43 season that the NHL saw its “Original Six” teams take the ice as the only teams in the league.
Originally the NHL had many franchises, many of which had great financial difficulties and were short lived. It was World War II that shrunk the league to six teams and allowed the NHL to gain notoriety and success for the next two decades.
The NHL’s original expansion class of 1967 added 6 more teams to the league including the St. Louis Blues. Since ’67, we have seen franchises come and go, but the league has established 30 current teams that are fairly successful. With the NHL now in states that never knew what an ice rink looked like, the NHL is gaining success in markets once thought unable to support NHL franchises and some that are proving they may not be the best spot for teams to thrive.
While the NHL does not want to move any current teams, the reality of the situation may be that some teams will have to move. The Phoenix Coyotes may be secure, if Greg Jamison can get the money to secure the lease on their arena today, but they are a team that has been mentioned in speculations about relocation for years now. With state of the art arenas in Seattle, Kansas City, Quebec City, and more popping up each day, it is hard to imagine a franchise staying in the desert when there are hockey fans further north begging for the game.
On Tuesday, Elliotte Friedman tweeted that the NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly had discussions with the NHL about the possibility of expansion to 32 teams, seemingly 16 in each conference.
Former NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly just told council NHL discussed expanding to 32 teams with him
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 30, 2013
Well known hockey agent Allen Walsh also tweeted that the NHL plans to expand the league as well.
For people wondering about NHL expansion, its happening (pure and simple). It's been on the league agenda the moment the lockout ended.
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) January 27, 2013
Expansion is something that could make the NHL a lot of money, but they need to ensure that they expand correctly this time around. With conference lines needed to be redrawn with the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, expansion is a soft blow to fans who may not want to see rivalries split up. For example, as much as I hate the Detroit Red Wings, I really wouldn’t like an NHL season with these rivalry matchups. Perhaps if the NHL added a team in Kansas City, the loss of Detroit in our division wouldn’t matter as a whole new rivalry would form only separated by a few hundred miles down Interstate 70.
Looking at the possibilities of where expansion could occur, what seems most logical? Well, with the attention that Seattle gained during the Katz Group’s situation in Edmonton, it would seem Seattle would be a very likely choice. Given that investors in the city are prepared to pay the fee to the NHL to get a team, they also have an advantage. Looking back during the lockout, fans may remember Wayne Gretzky paying a few visits to the city to “view” the new arena. Whenever the Great One gets involved, it is probably good to bet on it.
Seattle would then be part of the Western Conference creating a need for a team in the East. Assuming that Detroit or Columbus will be swapped for Winnipeg, Quebec City would be the most likely choice to even out the Conferences.
Quebec is a place where hockey thrives. There is no doubt that a team in Quebec City would be a huge success and the city is so sure they will be getting a team that a state of the art arena is being built. While there is a bit of a debate currently there about whether they should invest the funds, it is a sure bet if the NHL plans to expand and with official news, the Province would surely approve any tax dollars necessary.
Personally I would really like to see a team in Kansas City. Years back, the Pittsburgh Penguins toyed with the idea of moving to KC, but that was only in response to demanding a new arena, which the city gladly built. Kansas City has played host to some preseason games and they were all a huge success. The city is hungry for a team, and a winning franchise could capture a lot of attention in a sports city like KC. The problems may come if the team is not a winner. While the Kansas City Chiefs will always have support from their fans, the Kansas City Royals are a running joke. The team hasn’t been good for a long time and the city could care less about the franchise. Still, the Royals have a loyal fan base, albeit a small one, and it would be safe to assume that an NHL team would have the same.
Either way with the NHL expanding there is one thing that fortunately won’t be changing, and that is the St. Louis Blues chances of winning of a Stanley Cup. With talent spread throughout the league, adding two more teams would only further dilute the amount of superstars on each team and would give the Blues a great chance to win the cup.
Where do you think the NHL should expand to? Do you think expansion is a bad idea? If you could relocate a team who would it be and to where?
Thanks for reading and, as always, LET’S GO BLUES!