NHL Expansion or Contraction, You Be The Judge

The NHL’s off-season is here, and lot of questions need answers. One major question is whats best for the NHL, should the expand or is it best to start looking into contraction? Keeping in mind there is no way the NHL takes away teams, however that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.

NHL Expansion: The NHL has had a record year. They reported $3.7 Billion in revenue, and next season it seems that number could grow to over $4 Billion. Some say strike while the iron is hot, and add teams as quickly as possible. Cities like Seattle and K.C have come up in conversations, even Quebec has been rumored to be in the hunt to bring the NHL back. It seems that if Gary Bettman want to grow his league through addition there is no shortage of landing places to put a team. It is also very clear that the NHL will head West if it does expand.

I’m not sold on this idea at all. Expansion has the potential to further water down the talent pool. The NHL has hitched it bank account to a hand full of stars. Adding teams may have a

temporary benefit to the league, but as we have learned in just the past year or two; there are not a ton of high talent players. Teams are already struggling to put a competitive product on the ice as it is.  On the other hand growing the league could give some undiscovered talent the chance to shine.

NHL Contraction: There are teams in the NHL that are having a very hard time making money, and an even harder time getting fan to come watch them play. If you don’t believe me just pull up the attendance for this past season.

Top 5 Teams

  1. Montreal Canadiens: 914, 739
  2. Chicago Blackhawks: 908,859
  3. Philadelphia Flyers: 833,507
  4. Detroit Red Wings: 822,706
  5. Toronto Maple Leafs: 797,310

Bottom 5 Teams: Phoenix Coyotes: 564,789

  1. New York Islanders: 554,335
  2. Phoenix Coyotes: 564,798
  3. Florida Panthers: 5995,527
  4. Winnipeg Jets: 615,164
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 640,737

Looking at numbers alone, it seems clear that the NHL should start thinking about removing teams from some cities, and then maybe relocate them. Teams like the Panthers, Islanders, and Coyotes have all had or are having ownership issues. At some point the NHL becomes responsible for allowing teams to fail. If NHL Expansion is linked to revenue; it may help the league to start thinking cutting the dead weight.

NHL Expansion or Contraction; whats the smarter move?

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Tags: Gary Bettman Quebec Seattle

  • Buzzell

    I don’t think the dilution argument holds water. Yeah there are more teams now, but the talent pool that they are drawing from has become a lot more global. I think they should round it out at 32 with Seattle and either Quebec or Kansas City and rely only on relocation from that point on.

  • Szebran

    I read that NHL owners do not want expansion because they would have to further divide TV revenue. Also I doubt Islanders will move. More probably, Devils will be sold & moved. Someone on Yahoo said they had lowest TV rating of all 30 teams.
    If Coyotes move it will probably be to Vegas. A sports writer (cant remember who) wrote an article stating that Las Vegas is awash in cash & would only need about 13K-14K in attendance to break even. They would make up the difference with high priced corporate seating. He said an arena is currently being built in this region.