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Gimmick Idea For Slow News Days: NHL Floating Expansion Team


Before reading further, know this: the days between the Stanley Cup Finals and NHL Entry Draft are a martini-dry time for hockey writers. It’s when we walk through the cyber desert with our laptops and word processors looking for anything resembling a story. It is the time of the endless buyout, draft and trade speculation pieces.

It is the Time of the Gimmick Articles.

For something different in a gimmick, I tasked myself to come up with the most absurd notion I could think of with no chance of implementation, but yet still be theoretically possible.

Therefore I humbly present for debate the idea of the Floating Expansion Team. (FET)

For what seems an eternity, the same hatful of cities have come up in conversation to various degrees as possible destinations for expansion squads.

I guess we could include relocation in this discussion too. But that’d mean I’d have to come up with a longer, less practical acronym. And nobody needs that in his life.

Off the top of my head I can toss out the names of eight locations rumored to be future NHL destinations at one recent time or another: Seattle, Kansas City, Hartford, Quebec City, Las Vegas, Markham (ON), Houston and Milwaukee.

The prospects of these places ebb and flow due to a variety of issues that, if listed here in their entirety, would really drag down this piece. So we’ll just take my word for it.

As they all jockey for the position of frontrunners, a simple solution occurred to me; why not grant them all an expansion team? And not just an expansion team, but the same expansion team.

When you’re through laughing and before we go on consider this: The much beloved, world famous Harlem Globetrotters didn’t tip-off for so much as a single game in Harlem for nearly 40 years.

So think about it: one NHL team calling eight different cities home, playing five games apiece in each, with the extra sixth contest rotating annually to make the math work.

Sure, on the surface this sounds ridiculous. But consider:

Floating NHL Expansion Team Pros

1) Marketing: Most teams have 3rd jerseys; this team will have 8: all with different logos and color schemes that change based on where they’re playing on a given night. That’s 16 new jerseys (Sweaters, I mean. Not 16 new Devils’ franchises) for the NHL to sell. And you just know some fans will collect them all.

2) North America’s team: With a team in Kansas City five times a year, you’ll get new fans from northern Arkansas and Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, southeast Nebraska and southern Iowa. And so on with the other seven municipalities.

3) Sellouts: With only a quartet of games scheduled annually, the likelihood is those tickets would be hot sellers, hence all but ensuring packed arenas filled with joyous fans.

4) Greater NHL Exposure: A much larger slice of North America would have the opportunity to see the world’s best hockey players without having to schedule a vacation to do so. I may be the Forrest Gump of mathematicians, but even I can figure out that more fans = more ticket/merchandise revenue and greater TV ratings.

5) Ville Leino might actually get another chance to play at the NHL level.

6) Regardless of implementation, this stupid idea of mine gave me something different to write about.

Floating NHL Expansion Team Cons

1) The Buffalo Sabres would have to somehow find a way to tank even harder.

2) The expanded cost of purchasing comically large Draft Day tables to seat the various team contingents, and the heck it’d play on the symmetry and aesthetics of the draft floor each June.

Sure, there’d still be a few things to iron out. Such as which city would be represented on the road, who would own the franchise and who’d host the playoff games. But even though it’s 4a.m. and I myself am already getting tired of writing about this, I can still give you some quick, un-thought out answers to those questions, too.

1) Whichever of the eight ‘homes cities’ is closest to the road city of a given opponent will be represented, in order to create regional rivalries. Okay, yeah. To be fair make that truncated regional rivalries.

2) Eight different owners will share the total ticket revenue. Who wouldn’t want to be a professional sports team owner at a fraction of the cost? And who knows? Maybe even you and a few of your friends could pool your scratch and chip in to buy Milwaukee. Admit it, you’re already thinking about how cool that’d be.

3) Maybe a lottery or rotating schedule would determine who hosts playoff games. I don’t know. Whatever. I shouldn’t have to think of everything, anyway.

Hey, I didn’t say it was a perfect idea. Or even that I care. But the alternative is even more buyout/draft/trade speculation pieces spanning across the internet.

And if that’s what you want, no worries; there should be another such article coming your way from somewhere momentarily.

So, when’s Opening Night again?

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Featured Gimmicks NHL Expanion NHL News NHL Relocation Popular

  • BT Farley

    What about the travel schedule for those poor players? They would be on the road for 82 games. The team(s) would have 8 owners? Who me, you, and 6 other Fansided writers. We would make $100 bucks each all year. Before taxes. No way.

    • Chris Gay

      Oh, I know the Floating Expansion Team would never happen. I wrote this article for fun.

  • Buzzell

    It’s definitely an interesting concept. The biggest downsides would be convincing players to want to play for that team and who would host the important/playoff games, but if you could get past those I think it could work. I have a couple of suggestions. These could be either/or.

    1) Maybe have it be only a temporary situation and actually present it as those cities competing to be the final destination for the team. I would say maybe 5-10 years.
    2) Remove Markham from the list. Even the proposed permanent team there would have a fairly difficult time competing with the Leafs. If it’s a team they don’t even feel is fully theirs, they probably won’t be that inclined to support it. Maybe include Hamilton instead or just go to seven teams and use the next idea.
    3) Either remove one team from the list or reduce the number of games in each town by one. Then you can use the remaining games to tour around to non-permanent sites for greater exposure.
    4) Similar to the previous idea, have every team play 1 or more of their home games in cities without teams. Just an example of potential cities. Bruins-Hartford, Canadiens-Quebec City, Maple Leafs-Hamilton, Panthers/Lightning-Orlando/Jacksonville, Carolina-Atlanta, Nashville-Birmingham, Stars-Houston, Coyotes-Vegas, Canucks-Washington, Blackhawks-Oklahoma City just to name a few.

    • Chris Gay

      Of course the whole idea was written kind of as a joke, but with regard to Markham…I think a team there would very much work out. The Leafs are an expensive. tough ticket to get in Toronto; & a team nearby would allow area fans more opportunity to see NHL hockey as well as make a statement to the Leafs. In any instance though, Hamilton getting a team would be as, or more, unlikely, because both the Leafs & the Sabres would absolutely not want that.

      With that said, your suggestion to use this idea as model for determining which of any number of cities would most deserve a team is an excellent point. And one I should’ve thought of too, (but didn’t) as it’s similar to a marketing idea for a potential new team I’ve had in the past.

      Thanks for your comment!