After forced relocations and failed attempts at expansion, the NHL held off on adding franchises for 16 years. Eventually, The Creator enticed Gary Bettman enough to award him an overnight success in 2016. Not only did the landscape of the league change but the business side of hockey morphed as well. The average value of an NHL franchise went up roughly 330% when Foley paid his $500 million membership fee.
With Vegas’ instant success, the league aggressively pursued Seattle for the 2021-22 season. Now, the NHL is looking to continue restructuring the Western Conference.
We’re not in a mode where I’m saying, ‘OK, if you’re interested in expansion, submit your applications. If somebody wants to talk to us, we talk to them. If somebody came in and said, ‘OK, we have a building, this is our market, this is our ownership group, we’d really like to go.’ Then we’ll take a look at it and decide whether we’re inclined to expand at this point in time. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner at NHL Board of Governors meeting
Bettman suggested that adding another expansion team or relocating a franchise is not out of the question. Based on past league history, expansion conversations would have been out of the question had the Golden Knights flopped.
The interesting element to potential expansion or relocation is Vegas’ franchise will likely be impacted. In this week’s 32 Thoughts column on Sportsnet.ca, Elliotte Friedman suggested a team could soon land in the current VGK territory.
The annual pre-season BoG get-together generally doesn’t make much news. What’s obvious, however, is that some degree of expansion isn’t impossible over the next few years. I’ll bet your next six mortgage payments that Salt Lake City will get a team (whether it’s the Coyotes moving or new blood) and there are shoppers from Atlanta to Houston to Quebec City. –Elliotte Friedman in 32 Thoughts on Sportsnet.cap
Technically, the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, and LA Kings are closer to Las Vegas but Salt Lake City is part of the designated mountain area. Unfortunately, adding a franchise in Utah would technically be encroaching on The Creator’s desire to be the team of the Rocky Mountains. It’s already tricky to claim that with a team in Denver, Colorado, it would be nearly impossible to make the claim with a team in Utah.
As we head into the Golden Knights’ seventh season, the league is continuously trying to mimic the reigning champ’s success.
Has the commissioner set an expansion fee? It was $500 million for Vegas and $650 million for Seattle. “A lot,” he replied, pointing out Ottawa just sold for $950 million. –Friedman in 32 Thoughts on Sportsnet.cap
Let’s face it, Vegas has done it all for the league in only six seasons. They’ve become Stanley Cup champions, won two Western Conference championships, had a Jack Adams award-winning coach, a Vezina trophy goalie, and a shared Jennings trophy. Let’s not forget the enormous revenue the 31st has generated for the NHL. Not many expansion franchises have come close to the Golden Knights’ achievements.
And the window is still wide open. Reminder, Jack Eichel is only 26.