NHL Week in Review (December 1-7)

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The NHL made a big move this week when they decided on the fate of the newest team in the league.

There has always been a want for the NHL to get to 32 teams as their re-arrangement of the divisions when Winnipeg joined the league.

The new divisions made it fairly obvious that the NHL was expecting to add two new teams to the western conference.

They moved Detroit and Columbus to the eastern conference, a move that made more sense after years of them sitting more on the edge of the two divisions.

That left two spots in the western conference as the conferences were uneven giving the western conference teams a slightly easier route to the playoffs.

It wasn’t long before the NHL started to look for new teams though and although they had some very good options in the east they were concentrating on another area altogether.

That was always going to mean that the new teams were going to be from non-traditional markets.

It was going to lead to plenty of debate as the choices they were going to make were certainly going to lead to doubt among fans.

That was true for the first decision as their first move into expansion went to a place that was avoided for decades by every major league.

The NHL became the first professional league to put a team in Las Vegas, long regarded as a city that would never get a team due to the gambling that is fully legal there.

The NHL didn’t seem to care but the fact that sports gambling was legalized not long after their decision certainly helped.

The Vegas expansion was a controversial one as the league had struggled in similar areas and so some wondered if the city could support a team.

With the number of distractions in the city and the lack of any history regarding the sport, it was a risky move.

Yet in the first year of the team, they were one of the most successful franchises in the league.

They set a new standard for in-stadium experiences and found their way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

It was one of the most successful stories of expansion in professional sports and it quickly established Vegas as a strong part of the future.

It’s no surprise that after only one year since their last expansion talk of a 32nd team turned into a legitimate vote.hockey-sidebar

As soon as Vegas got their team attention turned to the next place that they could find to bring the conferences to even.

Although there were other options it all really settled on one place as the league seemed sure to bring pro hockey to the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle became the favourite to earn a team and as the Golden Knights were changing things in Vegas things were falling into place for Seattle.

An ownership group emerged and funding was secured to renovate the KeyArena giving a potential team a home.

This week all of the rest fell into place as the NHL Board of Governors made their final decision and approved their 32nd team.

Seattle won’t be playing until 2021 giving them more time than Vegas to prepare for their first season and avoiding another bigger change.

This new team will require another expansion draft and the NHL is providing a little more time in between the next one and the last one.

What Seattle now has in front of them are massive expectations set by the Vegas Golden Knights.

It won’t be as easy though as the expansion draft is sure to be adjusted after the Knights found their way to the Stanley Cup in year one.

Not only that but teams will understand how to go through the expansion draft and not provide the same level of talent.

That could make the difference for the newest team as Seattle is not a traditional market and already had a failed NHL team.

They have become a football town since then but no other professional team has survived even with the demand to bring a basketball team back.

The NHL will get in and look to establish themselves but if they can’t be good right away how much time will potential fans give them?

The second tie around for expansion is not going to be simple and the success of the Vegas expansion is not likely to be repeated.

Still, there is some promise in the city as there is at least some interest in another professional team as the NHL will look to fill that demand in 2021.

 

Overtime

Returning to Toronto

It wasn’t until the final 30 minutes before the deadline that William Nylander called Kyle Dubas to work out a deal. It has been a long offseason that spread into the season as Nylander was a restricted free agent after last year but refused to sign a deal with Toronto. After months of negotiating the deadline of December 1 was looming as no deal meant that Nylander would not be eligible to play this season. It was revealed that 30 minutes before the deadline Nylander called and looked to make a deal giving them little time to hammer out something they could both agree to. In the end, it was a 6-year $5-million deal that brought one of the big three pieces back to Toronto with two more to sign this offseason.

Their Next Man Up

The Philadelphia Flyers made a somewhat strange move two weeks ago when they fired their General Manager after the first quarter of the season. Although there are other big dates for the GM to deal with this year there is little that they can do midway through the season. Yet the Flyers took the risk and got rid of their management to bring in a new face. That new face is Chuck Fletcher who spent nine years in Minnesota and was most recently a senior advisor with New Jersey. It is a different move for the Flyers who tend to keep things in the organization regularly hiring former players or people in the organization. Fletcher is none of those but his bold moves in Minnesota could mean big changes for the Flyers.

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