January 30th While sitting on a panel and speaking to students, the Winnipeg Jets Chairman says Seattle is a priority for the NHL via expansion or relocation. He also said Greater Toronto Area could probably hold 2 more teams & Quebec would be great, but neither are top priority for NHL. Separately, assistant GM to the Boston Celtics says the NBA expansion (in the US) is unlikely in 5 years. He later qualified the statement as his opinion and not based on any NBA HQ information.
February 1st David Stern retires. Seattle basketball fans rejoice.
February 3rd NHL Expansion talk begins to heat up. While talking to TVA Sports, Gary Bettman had some responses to expansion talk: “we aren’t there yet” “lots of places have expressed interest” “we are always listening”. (These would be common quotes over the reminder of the season).
February 12th New NBA commissioner Adam Silver clearly states there are no plans to expand.
February 13th NHL says Seattle would be a “good hockey market”. Two days later, Former Seattle Junior Hockey Player TJ Oshie wins a big Olympic game for US in a shootout against Russia.
February 26th A Seattle delegation of business folks plus city and county officials visit Vancouver and attend a Canucks game to learn more about what it would look like should Seattle land an NHL team.
March 17th The first reported delay of the current Environmental Impact Statement for the SoDo Arena. IMHO the EIS is not the long pole here but it is part of the process. The city will not kick in any financing without a team. http://www.king5.com/story/local/2014/12/29/13403682/ I posted this image on March 17th…sadly, not much has changed (except for the Ballmer thing).
March 18th Seattle City Council president, Tim Burgess states that they will not change the MOU (for a NHL first scenario) stating that the tax revenues would be 50% less. It is unclear how those numbers are calculated when the NHL has higher ticket prices and higher attendance than the NBA.
April 26th Seattle Times reports that Ray Bartoszek is looking at options since the SoDo site is tied so heavily to the NBA which doesn’t appear to be headed to Seattle anytime soon.
May 13th In one of the strongest signs of the NHL’s interest in Seattle, it is reported that Gary Bettman and Bill Daly met with City and County officials in Seattle. By all reports, it sounded like a disappointing meeting for the NHL brass as the arena situation was described as “unsettling” by Daly.
May 15th As a follow up to the NHL and mayor meeting, Victor Coleman and Jonathan Glaser emerge as a new ownership group vying for an NHL team in Seattle. Coleman and Glaser with in the meeting with the Mayor, Bettman and Daly. They appear to be the front runners for owning a team in Seattle.
May 29th Steve Ballmer starts the process of buying the Los Angeles Clippers. This should be seen as a neutral to slightly negative on Seattle’s pursuit of getting an NBA team.
June 2nd Prospective Seattle Supersonics owner and the man leading the SoDoArena, Chris Hansen sits down with Chris Daniels of King5 and says that an NHL first scenario would require a potential NHL owner to put in a combination of more money and more risk. (Sorry, link has changed since I originally posted).
June 9th Posted the results from the 1st NHL to Seattle Survey. ~35% of respondents in King, Pierce or Snohomish county say they would be season ticket holders.
June 10th Chris Hansen signs an option for more land in SoDo area near proposed Arena. It is speculated this was done to accommodate some of the EIS feedback received to accommodate more parking.
June 26th NHL Board of Governors meeting comes and goes with no expansion announcement.
July 31st Another reported delay in final EIS.
August 26th Report surfaces that the NHL will expand by 4 teams in 2017. NHL would come out to deny it and I had my doubts about the original source.
August 28th In an interview with KJR, Steve Ballmer says, “ there is a guy pushing hard for hockey (in Seattle)”. ~58 minute mark.
September 30th Chris Hansen submits final paper work for EIS.
October 24th Although rumored for months, the first legitimate report of Vegas being a potential NHL mark surfaces.
November 25th Sports Business Journal post their annual reader survey. 43% of readers think Seattle is the most viable market for an NHL team.
December 3rd I wrote this interesting post that sizes up the Seattle Market.
December 8th NHL gives approval to prospective NHL Vegas owners to begin season ticket drive. No other markets are mentioned.
That leaves us here…which is pretty much where we started the year.
From time to time I read something from NHL fans or hockey media types claiming that expansion will ruin the game because of parity or dilution of talent. I get pretty dismissive about their “arguments” as very few of these claims are based on facts or data. I decided to investigate it on my own. This will be the 1st post in a 3 part series that talks about why the league is ready for expansion. As with most of my posts, I tell the story with data.
Margin of Victory
Regular season games are getting tighter. Excluding ties, the margin of victory has declined since 97.
The standings are also getting tighter.
Some of the expansion efforts in the 90s contributed to the teams with less than 50 points in a season however if you look at the teams with 51 to 60 points between 1990 to 1997, they were well established teams (Leafs, Oilers, Islanders, Jets, Nords). Now it should also be pointed out that OT, Shootout rules and the rise of the 3 point game is also a contributing factor here.
Compared to other leagues, the NHL has produced the most unique champions over the last 15 years.