After the Vegas Golden Knights came within three wins of hoisting the Stanley Cup, it’s safe to say that the NHL’s most recent expansion process was a rousing success. A large amount of people were not happy with the process, but it was successful in getting the new team off the ground quickly and generating a huge interest in the sport in a new area of the country.
With that being said, where to next for the NHL? All signs are pointing towards Seattle as the next city to get a hockey franchise, which will bring the NHL to a total of 32 teams. Quebec City, who once hosted the Nordiques, has also been considered for a new team, but ultimately lost out to Vegas and was deferred to a later date. Hockey is continuing to grow in North America, and that is a beautiful thing.
In my opinion, the NHL would be smart to stay at 32 teams once Seattle inevitably gets its expansion. However, that does not mean that other places such as Quebec City should be left without a franchise. If the NHL wants to keep growing and thriving in the best possible markets, they need to seriously consider a second option; the relocation of some of its current franchises.
To be blunt, there are some cities that don’t deserve their hockey teams when there are better market options available. These cities all suffer from the same issues, such as poor attendance, financial struggles, arena disputes, and an overall lack of interest among the community. Rather than put those cities on blast (you know who you are), lets take a look at some of the possible destinations for relocation.
We might as well get the obvious one out of the way first. The Nordiques were one of my favorite franchises growing up and they had one of the coolest logos and uniforms. The team relocated to Colorado and became the Avalanche in 1995 due to financial struggles because of a weak Canadian dollar, but their is still a strong fanbase in Quebec City hungry for a new franchise. Their prayers may be answered very soon.
Houston could soon become one of the few cities in the United States that features teams from the four major sports leagues. When Tilman Fertitta purchased the Rockets, he also expressed a serious interest in bringing an NHL team to Houston. The city already hosts the Aeros of the AHL, who reportedly sell out a majority of their home games. This could be a match made in heaven.
This market never seems to get much consideration when it comes to the NHL, but it should. The state of Wisconsin loves hockey and they support the Division I college team adamantly. A city such as Milwaukee or Green Bay would welcome an NHL franchise with open arms. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen, as the Chicago Blackhawks are the local team in the area and would probably be against a new team on their turf.
For the longest time, I have yearned to see the city of Portland get another professional sports franchise. The Trailblazers are beloved by that community, and a hockey team would probably be received the same way. However, there have been virtually no rumors of Portland being considered for an NHL team. Maybe some day people will learn to appreciate Portland like I do.
Bring back the Whale! The beloved nostalgic franchise seemed to be ill-fated from the moment they took the ice due to the stiff competition of the Original Six team playing in Boston. Still, it would be great to see them (and their amazing logo and uniforms) in the NHL again. The mayor of Hartford and governor of Connecticut gave it their best shot when they encouraged the Islanders to relocate there, but to no avail. Alas, we will likely never see the Whalers again.
It’s unclear when the next NHL relocation will happen. Ultimately, unlike the expansion process, a decision to relocate is up to the team’s owner. Hopefully one of these owners makes the right decision so this league can continue to grow. Where do you think the NHL should go next?
Photo: League It To Us