New Teams Means New Alignment For The NHL

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s expansion terms ($500 million including a $10 million application fee of which $8 million is refundable) have scared away many would-be applicants.

During the last NHL expansion in 1997 which cost $80 million, there were 11 applicants including three separate Houston entries, from which four cities, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Columbus were selected.

The only cities that are willing to cough up the excessive entry fee for the latest expansion are Quebec City and Lss Vegas and if that is only who applies, it will be a slap in the face for Bettman and the NHL who were flushed with long-time rumors and stories that there were an abundance of investors dying to get into the NHL.

It would serve them right if their greedy terms only engender a “get-what-we-can” response instead of an abundant harvest of applicants. Quebec and three western cities paying a total of $2 billion were the NHL’s ideal. Now it may be two and no more.

Regardless of how many cities apply (if any at all now), even only two new teams added will mean NHL realignment.

32 teams are a symmetrical number for professional sports leagues, which only the NFL so far has reached. It means a 2-conference, 8-division-of-4-teams alignment, which also means an easy-to-understand playoff structure.

It is also an alignment that makes it easy for a league to expand in the future with each division able to accommodate five, even six teams for a total of a 48 team league. Currently there are approximately 60 major markets in the United States and Canada so such an expanded league could be easily created.

Since Bettman’s excessive expansion terms may have caused serious second thoughts about joining the NHL, for the purpose of this article, it will only be assumed that Quebec and Las Vegas will submit credible bids which will still leave the NHL in an unbalanced state.  With that in mind, here’s how a future NHL might look:

                                               Eastern Conference

1                                     2                                3                                   4

Quebec       New York Rangers             Toronto                  Washington
Montreal      New York Islanders            Buffalo                   Carolina
Ottawa        New Jersey                         Detroit                    Florida
Boston        Philadelphia                        Pittsburgh              Tampa Bay

Western Conference

1                                    2                              3                                   4

Columbus              Vancouver                San Jose                 St. Louis
Chicago                  Edmonton                Las Vegas               Phoenix
Nashville                Calgary                     Los Angeles           Dallas
Minnesota              Winnipeg                  Anaheim                 Colorado

Thanks to the NHL’s greed, Columbus (which does not have the clout of Detroit) will have to be shifted back to the Western Conference until some future expansion to western cities will allow it to return east.

For now, this has to be assumed how the future NHL will look. The crucial date is August 10. Then NHL will know who are “the men from the boys”, that is if there are any men who are rich enough and fanatical enough to want to join them.

NHL Must Reduce Or Refund Entry Fees To Quebec and Las Vegas

It is a loss of face. It is a deserved nemesis to uncontrolled naked greed, but if it is not done, it is an act of business blindness. The NHL has to reduce or refund the excessive $500 million entry fee they want to charge Quebec City and Las Vegas to join the league.

It is obviously not a policy the NHL wants to do. Bettman and the NHL owners had whipped themselves into a greedy frenzy about the possibility of getting as much as a quick $2 billion in expansion fee money which they would not have to share with the NHL Players Association, by accepting four new expansion teams.

As early as a year ago, there were published reports in almost all sports media and websites that Toronto and Seattle, along with Quebec City and Las Vegas were “done deals” for a possible NHL Centenary expansion in 2017, along with bids from many other hockey hungry cities like Hamilton, Portland, Milwaukee, Houston, Oklahoma City, etc.

Instead the excessive greed of the NHL threw cold water on the whole expansion process. In the end, after handing out applications for 16 bids, only the two most committed and fanatical cities, Quebec and Las Vegas agreed to go through the whole expansion process. Even the “done deals” of Toronto and Seattle backed off. The NHL was hoping to get Quebec and three western cities for expansion, realignment and balanced conferences. Now they have to settle for what they can get, realignment, and unbalanced conferences.

The truth is that the business world took one look at the expensive entry fee to join the NHL and said, “Much as we would like to join you, we’re not suckers. Go your own way. (Or ‘Go to hell’, the impolite phrase.)”

Bettman and the NHL can continue to go along their greedy path and collect the $1 billion from Las Vegas and Quebec, but if they do, it will be a long time before the NHL can expand again. The business world has flatly stated that unless they are obsessed or fanatical like Quebec and Las Vegas, they will not pay what they consider an excessive entry fee. This message should also be taken seriously by the NFL, the NBA, and MLB.

Bettman and the NHL owners can pretend to ignore this blunt statement but since only two bidders emerged, it proved that there are not many rich people out there who are obsessed enough and fanatical enough to want to join the NHL. In fact the excessive $500 million fee should make any would-be major professional hockey team owners to seriously consider banding together and start their own league, like the WHA in the 1970s. Money spent on excessive $500 million entry and “consideration” fees can be better spent on building or upgrading arenas and player salaries.

Bettman and the NHL have painted themselves into a corner. They can take the money now and pray that “obsessed, fanatical” expansion owners will appear in the not-to-distant future, so that they can get richer and “balance up” the NHL which is unlikely; or scale down their demands on Quebec and Las Vegas to meet the true market value of an NHL franchise.

Charging an excessive entry fee is not a smart policy in any case. If these new applicants are supposed to be your new partners for the long-term future, why do you want to burden them with an excessive entry fee? And particularly in Las Vegas’s case, an expansion city like so many chosen during Bettman’s time as Commissioner, a city with no hockey roots, chosen because it makes hockey seem like “America’s game” and therefore entitles the NHL to get American television contracts like the NFL, the NBA, and MLB, an excessive expansion fee could cause the franchise to take a nose-dive if the expected fan support does not materialize. One would think the NHL has had enough money-losing franchises like Phoenix, Atlanta, and Florida and will create expansion conditions suitable for making a profit.

So it would be smart business to reduce or refund some of the $500 million burden on Quebec and Las Vegas  to the true market value in a way that involves the least amount of loss of face and shame. Else it seems like it will be for a long time that the NHL will remain “unbalanced” because it cannot find expansion owners/suckers who want to join such an “exclusive” league.

Where Are They Now Part 2!

We originally did a Part 1 which you can find here: After posting on Reddit (, we’ve decided to do a Part 2. Yeah we know the post was a long time ago, but at least it’s here right? Make sure to keep on requesting and if we have enough requests, we’ll do a Part 3! Make sure to check us out on Twitter @hkyblogger and on Facebook here:

Taro Tsujimoto
I have been searching for him for hours, and I can’t find anything for him. Sorry guys… Kidding! He’s an imaginary player created by Punch Imlach who got frustrated in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft. Tsujimoto was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres and everyone believed it! All the major news outlets picked it up. No information could be found on him. Well it’s cause he didn’t exist! But if he did exist, he would have been 61 now. So where is he now? Still imaginary!

Sergei Zubov
Sergei Zubov, the He retired in 2010 after a season in the KHL, and was a coach for SKA St. Petersburg for the 2011-2012 KHL Season. After that he and had joined the St. Louis Blues front office as a consultant, while doing double duty with CSKA Moscow as an Assistant Coach. However, he seems to have chosen to leave his St. Louis Blues role before the 2013 KHL season. After the 2013-2014 season, he returned to SKA St. Petersburg as an assistant coach while helping out with National Team duties as an assistant coach as well. So where is Sergei Zubov? Well he’s keeping busy with KHL and National Team duties!

Owen Nolan
Owen Nolan played 18 years for the Nordiques, Sharks, Leafs, Coyotes, Flames, Wild, and the ZSC Lions before retiring. So where is he now? He’s now running two restaurants called Britannia Arms; one in downtown San Jose and one in Almaden, CA. Nolan also hosts a and hosts several TV shows. He’s now an avid fisher and hunter and you can catch his show Sportsman 360 TV on NBC Sports Outdoors on Wednesdays at 3:30.

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