NHL Expansion: The Best Deal Left in Pro Sports?

Published on 27-Aug-2014 by J Square Humboldt

NHL    NHL Daily Update

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NHL Expansion: The Best Deal Left in Pro Sports?

So now the eyeballs are rolling in the direction of Las Vegas.

Tony Gallagher, the well-connected senior hockey columnist for Vancover's Province, is the latest to stir the hornet's nest of imminent NHL expansion. He summoned his sources and declared the city that made Bugsy Siegel's myth is now merely a formal announcement away from joining the club:

Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.

Besides giving the glitz treatment to the NHL award shows, Las Vegas was 'way ahead of its time with what's become a mega-popular promotion:

In his column, Gallagher also underscores why there's got to be a fire somewhere amidst all this recent smoke:

With all the activity going on in the Seattle area in the last little bit it would be quite a stretch to imagine that much time and effort being spent by so many wealthy men being frittered away for nothing.

And he's right. These rumblings will surface with substance sooner rather than later. Seattle is thisclose. Québec City has everything in place and just needs the word. Every league guv but the Leafs want another team in TO, and -- what the hell -- why not add that "done deal" to complete the set?

NHL will expand by 2017

One-thirtieth of that buy-in ought to keep the Panthers and Coyotes afloat a while longer.

NHL expansion shares

And if they need another infusion in a year or two -- what the hell -- just add Kansas City and Milwaukee. That sets up a hypothetical six divisions of six teams each, which if nothing else, will cut travel costs for Florida and Arizona:

NHL map with 36 teams

A series of stupid decisions kept the NHL from truly cashing in on the momentum of Lake Placid's Miracle on Ice in 1980, and it's taken until the 21st century to recover at least partially. Ratings in the key males 25-49 demographic are growing ever stronger, and the NHL's embrace of social media and technology continues to reap rewards.

But now it's time, and the addition of four new franchises should add that coveted ingredient in franchise inflation -- scarcity -- to the mix. In other words, there won't be much, if any, room for expansion left in North America, and that puts even more of a premium on franchise values.

Talent dilution? Get over it. The guvs have. Like baseball and hoops, hockey has a global talent pool. Recovery time won't be that long. Just don't expect anything out of Jamaica for a few more years.

The logic is there. Apparently, the cash is, too. And if an NHL team in Vegas is imminent, then perhaps there won't be any more cheesy promotions like Prison Jersey Night at the AHL's Wranglers game:

A shame, that. One could even imagine a tear welling up in Bugsy Siegel's one eye that didn't get shot out.

Click on a photo to enlarge.