NHL expansion is a hot topic among ice hockey fans right now, with the league meeting just over a month ago to hear pitches from both Quebec City and Las Vegas.
While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has assured the public that there is no timetable for possible expansion, it is generally accepted that there will be at least one more team in the league by 2017-18 and very possibly two.
Three-quarters affirmative vote is required from the board of governors, but despite generally positive reception by most for expansion, it’s unlikely one of those votes will be coming from Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs.
“Right now, the 30 teams are pretty good,” the billionaire Boston owner and chairman of the board said. “Talking where we stand today, I feel good about where we are”.
However, Jacobs is just one wet blanket among what seems like a league full of positivity for the growth of one of North Americas’ most popular sports.
With two cities firmly in the box seat for a new ice hockey team, let’s consider the pros and cons of each bid, and why they may be a good option for a new NHL town.
Potential team nickname: Nordiques
Potential area: Videotron Centre (18,259)
The Quebec City bid has a lot going for it, and there would likely still be a team there, if not for a poor Canadian-US exchange rate in the mid-90s.
The Quebec Nordiques played in the league for 23 years before being relocated to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche.
Unlike many other failed professional sports ventures, the Nordiques did not fail due to lack of support, rather the unfortunate circumstances they confronted.
Despite the fact that the Quebec market would be the second smallest in the NHL, times are far different now financially and one would think that the a Quebec City ice hockey venture would be a lot fiscally stronger now than in the 90s.
The league certainly seems to have little concern over potential financial problems, as to even be considered to present your bids case to the NHL board of governors, you must prove your ability to meet the $500 million expansion fee.
Everyone knows Canadians love their ice hockey, and so does Quebec City.
In an exhibition game in September between Montreal and Pittsburgh, the Videtron Centre was packed to the rafters, with everyone in attendance in full knowledge that the NHL may soon be returning to Quebec City full-time.
Potential nickname: Renegades
Potential arena: New arena/MGM Grand Arena (16,800)
Despite chatter, thus far, no American professional sports league has been brave enough to tackle the City of Sin, simply due to the stigma of the city.
However, in September, the NHL became the first of the “big four” North American sports leagues to at least hear the city's case for an NHL team.
So far, the ‘Vegas Wants Hockey’ group has been pretty bullish about their chances at scoring an NHL team. They’re already taking season ticket deposits in an unfinished arena.
However, a scroll down their official website (something the Quebec City bid does not have) shows that their bid is a deadly serious and professional one, certainly winning over a fan in yours truly.
Yes, their players would have to combat the aura and temptations offered by the gambling capital of the world, but each American market has its own unique challenges, and if a sports team can make it in New York or LA, it can in Vegas.
Las Vegas is in the top 50 markets in North America, making it far more of a financial sure thing than the Quebec City bid, and a more monetarily secure area than Edmonton or Calgary.
While the local popularity of the team or sport may not be as widespread as in Quebec City, Vegas is a worldwide tourist hub, and would not have any trouble attracting people from across the globe.