Lots of news from yesterday but I am here to throw a wet blanket on “the report” that the NHL will expand to Las Vegas, Toronto, Quebec and Seattle by 2017. Maybe I’ve seen this city get their heartbroken of the Sacramento Kings last spring, or the hockey community let down by a vote in Glendale last July. It could also be that I’ve been following every detail of this story and know how one tweet can start of firestorm of articles that multiplies by the hour.
The original “report” was really just a referenced tweet by some guy who had around 6000 followers. Most people claimed that SI (Sports Illustrated) was reporting the news but they were just reporting the report. Huh? Yep…that’s unfortunately how things happen these days. Once people saw the SI report it spread like wildfire with just about every news outlet reporting the report of the report. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to see the NHL to Seattle being discussed on the national stage. The reality is that this is not really news and not really credible.
Seattle and the NHL
Seattle is a great market for a Hockey team and the NHL knows it. In fact they have known it for a while. If you have followed King 5 Reporter, Chris Daniels or Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker, they have made it clear that the NHL likes this market based on discussions those guys have had with NHL brass. Don’t believe me? What about these quotes from 2013:
“The research that I have seen tells me that it would be a very strong hockey market. …Obviously if there were a team in Seattle it would create a decent rivalry with their northern neighbor, namely Vancouver.” – Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner
“But I think it’s safe to say we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally. Going forward I would expect that to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration.” – Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner
“With the [new] arena in Seattle, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put hockey back into the Seattle/Portland marketplace and we have to make a commitment to that.” – Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment CEO
Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto and Quebec have probably been identified or prioritized at NHL headquarters as potential expansion or relocation markets. That is not really saying much now is it? Vegas might be the odd one in there but there might be other factors that us fans don’t see. I imagine the list includes Portland, Kansas City and Houston. As a business, the NHL needs to know what potential markets exits if a situation comes up that they want to expand or relocate a team.
Who can I trust?
That is a great question. I’ve been following this so long that I take just about everything I read with a grain of salt. Remember when Darrly Katz toured Key Arena? Well I do, so excuse my cynicism. Although they are not always right since a lot of this stuff is fluid, I go to Chris Daniels and Geoff Baker for my local perspective. On a national level, I like Elliot Freedman, Ken Campbell and James Mirtle.
And as I wrap up, here come the denials:
NHL denies expansion report, including a second team in Toronto
Tim Leiweke of the Maple Leafs calls expansion reports “just not true”