The 2015-16 NHL season is set to get underway tonight with four games on the docket. Obviously here in Las Vegas it’s business as usual with the league’s continued feet dragging tactics on expansion.
However, there are a few teams whose success this season may directly impact the likelihood of a team eventually coming to Vegas.
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.
A lot can happen before the next Board of Governors meeting on December 7th and 8th, I just hope whatever does happen helps Vegas, cause this whole waiting this is getting really old.