With just Las Vegas and Quebec left in the expansion process, there might be a real concern from the league that choosing only Vegas, or not expanding at all, could alienate the Canadian fans.
There’s a lot of support for Vegas, while Quebec faces the problem that the NHL really doesn’t need another eastern-based franchise right now. Accepting Vegas and rejecting Quebec, however, risks a Canadian backlash. So this is going to take a delicate touch from Gary Bettman.
If there’s anyone who knows about angering Canadian hockey fans, it’s Damien Cox of the Toronto Star (tell me that doesn’t look like the face of a man who has been yelled at by Canadians?)
We already showed how the league could go about bringing only Las Vegas into the league, but that still seems rather unlikely. We also had the brilliant quote from Gary Bettman about lopsided conferences that bodes well for Quebec.
However, this is a legitimate concern. The NHL needs Canada and Canadian fans. Leaving Quebec hurt back in 1995, and now passing over them when it looks so promising could reopen that wound.
The NHL has really dangled the carrot right in front of the faces of fans from Quebec and Vegas, but the question remains, are they arrogant enough about their image that they’d be willing to pass on one or both later this year. I doubt it, but I can guarantee you this, there will be at least one website out there that will be REALLY ticked if they do.