FeaturedNational Hockey League (NHL)

Skies Slowly Clearing for Seattle-based NHL Franchise

There’s been plenty of buzz about NHL relocation and expansion over the past year. Season ticket deposits are being taken in Las Vegas for a non-existing franchise, Quebec City is about to open a new arena (with Metallica opening the building this August), and there’s been progress in building a new, and much needed arena in Seattle in order to secure a professional sports franchise. Whether the talent pool of the league can handle an additional two teams is a different discussion for a different time, but the fee to bring a team in to the NHL’s sandbox is about $500 million. At one point there was talk of adding four franchises (which is ludicrous), but two would be manageable.

The logical franchise to move to Las Vegas or Seattle has always been Arizona. But now that the Coyotes ownership finally seems settled, who would be the next team that might need to hire a moving company? The franchise to keep an eye on is the Florida Panthers. The attendance at Panthers games can be downright pitiful. The new ownership stopped the free ticket giveaways to get butts in the seats (so it wouldn’t look like those photos) to reward the fans who pay money to see them play. There’s an imbalance between the Eastern and Western Conferences, and one team moving West would balance the conferences.

The NHL might have more than their annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas soon. (Jason Merritt – Getty Images)
The NHL might have more than their annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas soon. (Jason Merritt – Getty Images)

Quebec has been pining for an NHL franchise since the Nordqiues become the Colorado Avalanche after the 1994-95 season. They finally built the new arena required (which is also part of the price of admission to be in the NHL), so now it’s a matter of giving the building a regular tenant. Seattle has been starving for an indoor pro sports team since the NBA’s Sonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder after the 2007-08 NBA Season. And Las Vegas is itching to get a professional sports franchise period. If it was me running the league, this is how the league could look in a few years:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Pacific DivisionLos Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Seattle

-All of the teams make sense geographically. The Coyotes would be the odd team out and move to the…

Central DivisionChicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Colorado, Dallas, Winnipeg, Nashville, Arizona

-Other than Arizona joining the division, everything else remains the same

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic DivisionBoston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, Detroit, Quebec City, Columbus

-First they would need to rename this division the “Northeast Division”. With Florida heading West, it doesn’t make sense to keep Tampa Bay in this division with no other franchises nearby. Columbus gets swapped in to balance out the Eastern Conference divisions.

Metropolitan DivisionNY Rangers, NY Islanders, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay

-Everything remains the same except the addition of Tampa Bay and gets reunited with Washington and Carolina. This division should be renamed the “Atlantic Division”

Adam Bernard
I'm a seasoned veteran in the sports media field and a lifelong Rangers fan (hoping to relive 1994 at some point - I couldn't fully appreciate a championship at 11 years old). Hockey dominates my life for the most part: I also root for the Blackhawks & Kings, I've been lucky enough to split season tickets for the Blueshirts with a good friend since the lockout, and I'm a defenseman on a local roller hockey team. Away from the rink, I enjoy hiking, hard rock music, and spending time with my dog Astro.
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2 comments
hockeyrick
hockeyrick

Vegas is a trainwreck in the making. If the NHL is looking for a solid success story its Seattle, a no brainer!

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