Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL is Expanding, Seattle is the First to Join

Time to lose your cool or jump for joy, whichever you prefer.

Fans of Woody Allen remember one of the most memorable quotes from Annie Hall,

Alvy: [his head still down] The universe is expanding.

Doctor in Brooklyn: The universe is expanding?

Alvy: Well, the universe is everything, and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!

The sentiment that young Alvy shares with the Doctor in this scene is one that many fear will happen to the NHL.

If there are teams struggling to make a profit and bringing down the HRR share that bigger markets are receiving, why would the NHL want to add more teams?  Doesn’t this signal a possible fall of the NHL.

I don’t think so.

Recently, NBC Sports reported that the NHL is pushing to expand to the Pacific Northwest, particularly Seattle.

…NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is pushing the Board of Governors to make an expansion team available to Seattle. Levy says it would cost $275 million to start the team and that the new team would begin playing in the 2014-15 season.

It doesn’t appear that it is just Gary Bettman pushing for the move either,

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly recently spoke about the Pacific Northwest getting “serious consideration” for expansion or relocation…

Should the NHL make the move to expand to Seattle, it would make sense that they would want to add another team to the league at the same time.  Adding a team in Seattle only will push the NHL to 31 teams with 15 in the Western Conference and 16 in the Eastern Conference.

That imbalance would lead many to believe a second team in the West would be created.  There have been rumors of places like Las Vegas and Kansas City getting teams, but with smaller hockey markets that could be a major gamble.  Quebec City, Toronto and Portland have also been mentioned, but only Portland would lend itself to the need of a team in the Western Conference.

The most likely destination would be Quebec City as they have an arena being built, they have a huge hockey audience, and they have the investors ready to purchase a team.

So if a team comes to Quebec City, would the NHL re-align itself once again moving a team or two into the Western Conference?  Would the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets make their way back into the same division as the St. Louis Blues?

This is all speculation at this point, but prepare yourselves as expansion is on its way.  With Seattle expected to have a team very shortly, the real question is where will the NHL look next.

Stay tuned for more as we have it.


-Alex Hodschayan

Tags: Kansas City Las Vegas NHL Expansion Portland Quebec City Seattle St. Louis Blues Toronto

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