For much of the NHL expansion application process it’s been regularly considered that if the league does indeed decide to go ahead and grow, they would do so in both Las Vegas and Quebec City.
However, our friends at TheFourthPeriod.com have heard some buzz that may challenge that narrative.
Word on the NHL street is that the League may only be expanding to one market this time around, and it doesn’t sound like Quebec City is the frontrunner. There is legitimate concern across the NHL over the sinking Canadian dollar. -David Pagnotta, The Fourth Period
Speaking to several very high-up, in-the-know people in the NHL circle, from both ends of the spectrum, the sentiment is that Las Vegas will be awarded an NHL franchise once all is said and done
Obviously the waiting game will have to continue for now, but this is spectacular news from a very well respected (Canadian) source.
The NHL wants to be in Las Vegas, make no mistake. But it all has to make sense. It’ll all play out in the New Year, mind you. And as I’ve been told numerous times in the last 12 hours, anything can change.
We’ve said it before, the deadline was July 20th, 2015. That was the day that cities in North America were to show that they had interest in the National Hockey League coming to their city in which a check for $10 million would accompany their application. Only Las Vegas and Quebec City met this requirement. No one else, including Seattle, submitted a bid but we will are hearing that the league is still waiting on Seattle because in the world of common sense it makes sense. Sometime in January, Seattle will vote on whether or not to give Chris Hansen the go ahead to put a shovel in the ground to make the Sodo Arena a reality. The problem is the bond that would assist Hansen in building an arena is to only be used for a NBA franchise. This ultimately could force Hansen to build his arena with private funds or not at all. It’s becoming clear to me that the NHL would prefer two teams in the West, Vegas and Seattle while Quebec would be a landing spot for a team to relocate. In reality this makes sense and it doesn’t mean Vegas would have to wait for Seattle to build their barn.
As for who would be moving, that crystal clear as well. The Arizona Coyotes have shown some improvement in attendance and should remain that way as long as the team stays in contention for a playoff spot. The Florida Panthers have averaged 900 more fans per game this season so the arrow is pointing in the right direction there too, leaving one franchise that is obviously going to struggle if something isn’t done, the Carolina Hurricanes.
In 2006-2007, Carolina averaged well over 17,000 fans per game , filling 92% of their arena. Granted this was the year after their Stanley Cup win in 2005 when they beat the Edmonton Oilers. Now we fast forward to 2015, they can barely fill half their building, settling in dead last, by a wide margin, in league attendance. I suppose this will happen when you’ve missed the playoffs six straight years and are destined for a seventh.
I feel strongly that there will be some sort of an announcement at the All Star Break. The league will have all their presentations and phases of expansion out of the way and the vote in Seattle would have taken place. It will be a year since Las Vegas started selling season tickets to a population that people doubted would sell 5,000 let alone 14,000. We met the deadline in respect the National Hockey League’s deadline. Now it’s time for them to respect us with an answer, January 31st, at the All-Star Game.
Every day that passes I seem to grow more and more impatient wondering why it’s taking so long for any concrete information to come out of the NHL regarding expansion.
We’ve heard the rumors, both good and bad, but the only true info we ever seem to get is Gary Bettman saying, hang in there.
The latest in the long line of possible reasons for the announcement delay is a bit different from any we’ve heard before.
There’s concern amongst some of the larger market teams that, in four years, Las Vegas and Quebec City will be among those teams that will reap the benefits of revenue sharing. That means those with higher revenues are going to have to pay more money into the pot. –Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun
In other words, the richest owners are afraid that adding the new teams will eventually cause them to lose money as they’ll have more owners to share their profits with under the NHL’s revenue sharing system.
Our friends at NHLNordiques.com came up with three ways the league might handle this issue.
The NHL decides to stop the expansion process
The NHL strongest top 3 markets get a bigger share of the expansion fee
The Expansion have to pay more than $500M
The interesting question, and the one The Creator and Quebecor must prove to the league is, “Will these new franchises indeed qualify for revenue sharing?”
Will the addition of two teams help the league grow enough to offset the difference between the $1 billion expansion fee and possible revenue sharing dollars?
Again, we have no way of answering these questions.
However, we are sure of one thing. The Creator is not going to let money get in the way of bringing a team to Las Vegas. We are confident that he’ll do whatever is necessary to make it happen, even if he has to make some sacrifices on top of the $500 mil.
There are a number of different way to look at it, which makes it very difficult to decide what we actually want to happen on the ice. Therefore, I’ve decided to lay out a few scenarios, explain who you should cheer for based on each, and then let you decide which one is the most likely to help form your fandom for 2015-16.
Quickest Path To Expansion
The league will only feel comfortable expanding right now if the other 30 organizations in place are stable. What would best prove this would be for there to be a bit of a boom in the troubled markets. Phoenix and Florida instantly come to mind, Carolina, Columbus, and New Jersey as well with each filling less than 91% of their stadiums a year ago. We want every stadium to be jam packed every night so that the only obvious choice would be to award new franchises. So, go Panthers, Coyotes, Hurricanes, Jackets, and Devils.
The most likely franchises to be relocated are in Florida and Phoenix. If both are to continue on the path they’ve been on, it may be wise for the league to move one here and one to Quebec City. The good news for Vegas is that the league seems a bit more receptive to the valley than it does to Eastern Canada at the moment. So if one or the other, or both teams needing relocation Vegas would make the most sense. If it’s Arizona, nothing changes, if it’s Florida, the conference are suddenly balanced at 15/15. In this case, we would be cheering for at least one of these two teams to have a hard time this season and their attendance numbers to continue falling.
Waiting For Seattle
There are a few different ways for this to make sense, but it’s something the league seems to really be focused on. This can happen one of three ways. 1) Vegas and Quebec get expansion teams, Phoenix is moved to Seattle. 2) Vegas and Seattle get expansion teams, Florida is moved to Quebec. 3) Quebec is left out, Vegas and Seattle get expansion teams. As a fan of hockey in Vegas, we fit in all three scenarios, so really it’s just a matter of Seattle breaking ground on a stadium, which unfortunately seems to not be happening. Not much on the ice matters for this scenario because it’s all in the hands of Seattle.
For me, I’ll be cheering for the first one. Let’s just make it easy and have the league feel great about every city they are currently in. That way, they’ll be perfectly happy to launch a team in Las Vegas in 2017-18 without having to worry about contracting or moving another team down the road.
Commissioner Bettman said fan passion and activation is a small part of the expansion process. “The fact is obviously it’s a great building (QC’s Videotron Centre) and there are a lot of great hockey fans (in Quebec City), but there’s a lot more that has to go into the expansion process. We understand the interest that the people in Quebec City have for hockey. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. That’s one of the many factors that has to be evaluated, including whether or not ultimately the League wants to expand,” said Bettman. –NHL.com
Sounds an awful lot like, “hold your horses QC.” Oddly enough, this is an excellent mindset for the commissioner and the league to have in regards to a successful bid in Las Vegas.
The only issue with The Creator‘s bid is the perceived lack of existing support in the city. 13,5000 tickets have been sold, but it took almost six months, while in Winnipeg they sold out their building within hours. Throughout the entire process, this has been seen as a major negative to Vegas, but now with these comments from the Commish, maybe it’s not as important as we thought.
What “fan passion and activation is a small part,” really means is, “we care a lot more about dollars and cents (or loonie and toonie) than anything else.”
Please focus on money, that’s the best case scenario for Las Vegas. The Creator’s application is spotless except for fan passion and activation.
I’d be very concerned if I were from Quebec City over what Commissioner Bettman said, but here in Vegas, it’s time to party, because the only issue we have is considered “a very small part.”
The NHL wants their money, and The Creator is continuing to stand in front of them holding a gigantic bag of cash. It continues to appear that it’s just a matter of time until Bettman and the league take that bag off his hands.
According to a well connected radio host in Quebec City, (thanks to NHLNordiques.com for the tip) due to the ridiculously high rumored expansion fee of $500 million that Las Vegas and Quebec will be charged for a team, the league will be forced to loosen up the expansion draft rules to help out the two new teams.
Gilles Parent of FM93 in Quebec pried this information out of a few NHL officials that were in town for the Montreal/Pittsburgh preseason game.
I discussed with 4 or 5 close to the NHL representatives, as they were all in Quebec City for the preseason game. The told me that the NHL will charge $500 million for an expansion team. At that price tag new owners can request better players. Rather than the usual expansion 19th team quality level players they’d get into the 10th to 12th rank range.
Basically what he’s saying is that the league is planning on charging so much to these new franchises, that they are willing to take an extra step to ensure they will compete immediately.
Rather than the expansion rules that were used in 2000, which forced the new teams to choose from journeymen and unproven players. The new rules would either lower the maximum number of players each team could protect and/or raise the experience requirements on unprotected players.
For example in 2000 there was a rule that read:
Each team must leave at least ONE defenseman that appeared in 40 games last season or 70 games in the previous two seasons.
Maybe the new rule would make the numbers something like 60/100. Or possibly add statistics to the mix. “Must leave one player who scored at least 10 goals” or “Must leave one player who had at least 25 points.”
If this is true, this is HUGE news for fans of a Las Vegas NHL team. Based on the rules used in previous drafts, it was almost certain that the team would struggle for a few years at the least. But with stricter rules, the team would likely be able to grab much more talent and compete quickly.
This obviously makes sense for the league on many levels. It’s in everyone’s best interest for Las Vegas and Quebec succeed financially. If the teams are good, it will help with fan support and create sell-able rivalries at a much faster rate.
I’m not 100% sure how the rest of the league will respond to being forced to give up some of their best players, but I do know the cut of the $1 billion the league will share from expanding will certainly soften the blow.
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.
We know you’ve all been doing mock drafts for the past year preparing for the big day on June 21st when we finally learn the identity of the 30 players selected by the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s now time to put those mock to action and enter the SinBin.vegas Expansion Draft Contest where you can win a Hockey Fat Bike, VGK gear, and possibly even a pair of tickets to opening night at T-Mobile Arena.
PLUS if you happen to get at least 25 of the 30 selections right, and score the highest total in the contest you win the Hockey Fat Bike AND…
Super Grand Prize – A pair of tickets to the Vegas Golden Knights regular season home opener at T-Mobile Arena (Date and opponent TBA)
Here’s how the scoring works. You get one point for every correctly predicted player you select compared to the actual selections made by George McPhee and the Golden Knights. If there’s a tie, we’ll use protected players as a tiebreaker (see official rules for details).
^The Vegas Golden Knights design Hockey Fat Bike is still in the approval phase with the NHL. Assuming it gets approved, the winner will receive the VGK design bike. If for whatever reason the design is not approved, the winner will be able to select any of the bikes from the Hockey Fat Bike lineup.
From the beginning, The Creator and his team have said that their intentions on bringing a team to Vegas are through the expansion route. Rather than purchase a team and relocate them to the valley, they want that “new car smell.”
While an expansion team would absolutely suit this city well, there’s absolutely no reason not to be the home to relocated team if it’s the only path available.
When the expansion process began there were groups from Las Vegas, Kansas City, Sacramento, Seattle, and Quebec City all vying for a team. But when all was said and done, only Vegas and Quebec came through.
The initial thought was that the NHL would like to add two teams bringing the league from 30 to 32 franchises.
“When it comes to the NHL, it’s simple: Las Vegas needs that new car smell.
Leave all the troubled franchises and nutjobs tasering city officials exactly where they are,” says Ed Graney of the LVRJ.
I have an issue with one word. “Las Vegas NEEDS that new car smell,” should really be, “Las Vegas WOULD PREFER, that new car smell.”
If a team were to relocate to Vegas, who’s to say The Creator could not change the logo, brand the team with new colors, blow up the front office, take a hacksaw to the roster, and anything else he wants to do? If treated like an expansion team, within a few years, everyone would completely forget where they came from in the first place.
It’s absolutely true that the best case scenario would be for Las Vegas to be awarded one of two brand new franchises and start from scratch, but there’s no reason to think that a relocated team would be received any differently here than a new one.
There’s going to be challenges one way or the other. They are different in each case. But the goal stated by The Creator was “to bring NHL hockey to Las Vegas,” not “to be awarded an expansion franchise.”
New car or used car smell, they both wear out with time. In the end you wind up with the same thing, a vehicle. Give us our vehicle, and let The Creator drive.