NHL Week in Review (December 10-16)

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There has been a lot of talk about another expansion team in the NHL that seems to be heading to Seattle.

With a stadium that will soon be given a major facelift, the NHL allowed a group from Seattle to put in a bid for a new franchise.

With the NHL needed another western team and Seattle always being a coveted place for the league it seems almost a sure thing that the newest team will be in Seattle.

When that happens is still up for debate though as the league is just launching the Vegas Golden Knights and although results have been good going right away to another new spot might not be the best.

Still, if they are approved the league will eventually see another team in the west evening out the league.

It will also very likely be the last expansion for a long time as the NHL has wanted that even number for a while and aside from international expansion there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in more teams.

That is great for the league as they will finish their expansion long before other leagues that have all expressed interest in adding new teams.

 

What is not great about the potential expansion is that one city has been left out in the cold despite plenty of interest.

Quebec City was allowed to submit an expansion plan at the same time as the Golden Knights paying the same expansion fee as the group from Vegas.

They were ready to bring a team back after building a new stadium that is currently home to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.

The stadium was built purposefully to being an NHL team back to the city after the Quebec Nordiques left for Colorado in 1995.

When the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in 2011 hope was renewed for the fans in Quebec City.

The Jets have always been linked to the Nordiques as both teams were the unfortunate casualties of a new era in the sport.

Free agency and financial struggles of paying massive contracts with the Canadian dollar that was far below the American dollar hurt both franchises.

They simply couldn’t keep up and eventually, they were forced to leave with bad teams drawing bad crowds and leaving much to be desired on and off of the ice.

A new era with a salary cap and a far better Canadian economy opened the door for Winnipeg in 2011.

The Thrashers were simply in the wrong place and Winnipeg was ready to take on the challenge.

Despite having one of the smallest arenas in the league the Jets have done well in their return and their success has given people in Quebec City hope.hockey-sidebar

With a brand new stadium built for an NHL team and the success of the Jets proving that small Canadian markets can work there isn’t a lot standing in their way.

Except for the fact that the league needed western teams and were never really interested in another team in the east.

If a team is approved for Seattle expansion becomes a very slim chance for fans in Quebec City but they never had a great chance.

What they are and what they have been since the arena was built is a backup plan for a team that might not be doing well enough to stay alive.

Florida has constantly been thrown around as they are a team that has struggled every year with low numbers of fans even with their recent success.

A new team threw their hat into the ring though as Eugene Melnyk threatened to relocate the Ottawa Senators if a new arena couldn’t be built.

The Senators arena is not the youngest in the league and is a part of the old trend of moving outside of the city to get land.

The new trend is to move arenas close to the city and the Senators have been looking to do just that for a number of years.

This week Melnyk fired his shot claiming that he would consider relocating the team without a stadium and the immediate thought could be Quebec City.

What is dangerous about this is that Quebec could be the NHL’s version of what Los Angeles was in the NFL.

With a turn-key operation available in the city they could easily become a tool for owners to use in order to get new arenas or a better deal.

It happened for years in Los Angeles and Quebec City would prefer that not be the case but unless a team needs to be moved they are going to be that city for the foreseeable future.

 

Overtime

End of an Era?

Fighting is still a part of the game of hockey but every year it seems to fade further and further away. That is good for some and not so good for others but it is a fact of the new era where head injuries are a bigger concern and the league would prefer to distance itself from that image. As that aspect of hockey drifts away so too do the players who were on teams simply to fight. One of the last of those players will no longer strap on the skates as Chris Neil announced his retirement this week removing one of the last enforcers from the game.

Outdoor Season

This week was the first of a total of three outdoor games this season as the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens face off in the nation’s capital. The game was held at TD Place Stadium while practices were held on Parliament Hill in a new rink built to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Confederation. The game launches a somewhat paired down schedule as the Winter Classic heads to Citi Field in January and the Stadium Series to Annapolis in March.

Loan Possibilities

This past week many NHL teams had a decision to make regarding their younger prospects as national programs geared up for the World Junior tournament. Teams decided whether or not they would loan their best young players to their national teams to try to make the team and play in the tournament in Buffalo. Not everyone made it but teams willing to part with these prospects may very well be happy to loan the same players out to national programs for the Olympic Games in January giving some teams a little bit more talent.

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