2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Recap

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are over with the Pittsburgh Penguins returning to the top again. But what does this year’s result mean for now and for the past and future? It is the purpose of this final installment of this year’s series of predictions to clarify and make sense of it all…

The Winner Of The 2016 Stanley Cup Tournament Is...

It is my sad duty to announce that the winner of the 2016 Stanley Cup actually ended in a tie between the Coronary Heart Disease team and the World Health Care Industry team which has been concealing a cure for coronary heart disease for at least two decades. The way that coronary heart disease was allowed to significantly affect this year’s NHL playoffs is a disgrace that only people like myself who have been cured of this dreadful scourge years ago without any open heart surgery know. I have published three articles on this blog so far about how this killer has recently significantly affected hockey and I hope to publish more to make as many readers as possible aware of what is really going on. First this disease forced the unnecessary retirement of Pittsburgh Penguin Pascal Dupuis. It followed up that success by forcing Tampa Bay star forward Steve Stamkos to accept unnecessary surgery to remove blood clots, the same problem that forced Dupuis’s retirement. Stamkos never appeared in the playoffs until the desperate game 7 with Pittsburgh when he probably still should have been kept out. Finally the world’s worst killer struck again in the Final by killing living legend Gordie Howe with a series a strokes over the past three years. The joy of the Final is now clouded over.

And all the while a cure existed that I took eight years ago and which others took before me and which thousands more have discovered after me. The chelation remedy which I and thousands of others have taken that has saved our lives is officially condemned by governmental bodies like the FDA and Health Canada to be “alternative medicine” which means that it can never be legally prescribed by state doctors or Heart Associations. To get it, a person has to have the courage to fly in the face of official denunciation and ridicule, to have the courage to be one’s own doctor and buy it directly over the Internet, or to try the privately established chelation clinics and get the heart plaque removed under a doctor’s supervision. Pascal Dupuis would still be playing; Steve Stamkos would not have missed a single playoff game; and Gordie Howe would still be alive. That is the triumph of coronary heart disease and the corrupt health care industry. Step forward and collect the Stanley Cup. This year it is rightfully yours.

Team At The Top

Who else but the Pittsburgh Penguins who have returned to their projected future after floundering in the wilderness for the past seven years. Pittsburgh owes its return to the top to goaltender Matt Murray who replaced the erratic Marc Andre Fleury and to coach Mike Sullivan who stressed defensive commitment to which the entire team including star players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin dedicated themselves. Suddenly after being lost for so long Pittsburgh is back and if they continue to get the same goaltending and defensive commitment, they are going to be very hard to dethrone.

The Real Conn Smythe Winner

With all due respect to Sidney Crosby, the real Conn Smythe Trophy winner of this year’s playoffs was his goaltender Matt Murray and Crosby would be the first to say so. The big difference between this Pittsburgh team and the chokers who succeeded the champions of 2009 was the improved defensive play of the team and that starts with Murray in goal. As soon as Murray was installed as the starting goaltender instead of the erratic Marc Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh roared down the finish of the regular season and never looked back. Coach Mike Sullivan’s one attempt at bringing back Fleury resulted in an overtime loss against Tampa Bay and he never gave the matter any consideration again.

Players Who Made A Breakthrough

The 2016 playoffs marked the emergence of Matt Murray, Martin Jones, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, John Tavares, and T. J. Oshie.

Teams On The Way Up

Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers all showed that if the right off season moves are made, they have the potential to advance farther than they did in this year’s playoffs.

Spinning Wheels Stuck In The Mud Of The Same Old Round

The Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild remain mired in the same old first or second rounds. Minnesota seems to think that by acquiring Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to escape missing the playoffs altogether is also enough to be a true Stanley Cup contender instead of upgrading its talent still further. Washington with  the same old Ovechkin-Backstrom-Orpik core that it has had for nearly a decade probably needs a good shakeup and fresh blood. Also Anaheim’s first round defeat was a severe setback that cost coach Bruce Boudreau his job.

See Ya

1. Brooks Orpik’s play was a significant reason why Washington suffered its usual first or second round choke. Three direct or indirect Orpik actions led to situations in which Pittsburgh took full advantage. Should Washington give him one last chance out of loyal service over the years or is time to give him a gold watch and bid adieu?

2. After years of trying to give away his job by his erratic playoff play, particularly a horrible series against the Philadelphia Flyers which may have been the worst goaltending performance for an entire playoff series that I have ever seen, Pittsburgh Penguin goaltender Marc Andre Fleury finally succeeded in watching his backup, Matt Murray take his job from him. Pittsburgh will no longer keep Fleury with his large contract and erratic playoff play. The one game coach Mike Sullivan allowed him to start saw him give up his usual 4+ goals including the overtime winner to Tampa Bay. The only question is which teams still believe in Fleury to give him a chance to start his career again?

Deja Vu

Coach Peter DeBoer took the underdog New Jersey Devils all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost. Then he took the underdog San Jose Sharks all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost.

Where Do We Go From Here?

It is going to be a difficult off season for the San Jose Sharks. On the one hand, they made significant breakthroughs by getting all the way to the Stanley Cup Final where they had never been before. On the other hand, they were outclassed by Pittsburgh. The offense that was getting contributions from almost everybody was almost completely shut down and when that happened, Martin Jones, their goaltender of the future was not enough. How much longer do they continue with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau despite their wonderful contributions this year? What will it take and what do they need to get them over the top? Next year might see a returned Chicago and a retooled Los Angeles. And if Dallas, St. Louis, and Nashville make the right off season moves, they could be significantly improved next year. Returning to the Stanley Cup Final will not be easy for the Sharks. In some ways, they had win this year while they had the chance. It is not easy to see and find an answer for what they need.

Partly Over A Hump

The San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, and New York Islanders all got through rounds where they usually lose or choke. They did not win the big one but it was progress.

Marriage Made In Heaven – Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

Bruce Boudreau was fired by both the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks because in the playoffs his teams were able to beat equal or lesser teams than themselves but could never beat true Stanley Cup contenders like the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. Now Boudreau gets to be coach of the wheel-spinning Minnesota Wild, a team that can beat lesser teams like Colorado but always loses to true contenders like Chicago and Los Angeles. One can hardly wait to see the result.

Will They Return?

Chicago and Los Angeles were alternating as Stanley Cup Champion the past four years. It was supposed to be Los Angeles’s turn to win the Cup this year but they were put out quickly in the first round by the inspired San Jose Sharks. Will some inspired off season retooling bring back the Kings and the Blackhawks? It will not take much to return these teams to glory status.

Most Anguished Defeat

When Pittsburgh closed out the Washington Capitals 4-2, it left one the worst chokers in the NHL along with Minnesota stuck behind its mound. To add salt to its wounds, the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders made playoff progress by getting through the rounds where they usually lose or choke. Washington won the President’s Trophy by a country mile but to show real progress they HAD to get to at least the Eastern Conference Final. Alexander Ovechkin, once Sidney Crosby’s main rival still has never played in a Conference Final, let alone contend for the Stanley Cup. His international Russian team Olympic record is just as dismal. He has loads of individual trophies and honors but his team record is horrible. He is the successor to Marcel Dionne who had a similar career. What is even more galling is that Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom outplayed their rivals Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and got an outstanding effort from T. J. Oshie and it still was not enough. Brooks Orpik played like a bonehead and Braden Holtby failed to deliver difference-making goaltending. The coming off season in Washington is going to be critical about where they go from here.

The 50-50 Team

The Nashville Predators made progress when they beat superior opponent Anaheim to win their first ever 7 game series. Nashville was ready for that game 7 but when the same situation came up again against San Jose, they were shamefully shut out, causing goaltender Pekka Rinne to smash his stick in frustration at his team’s lack of preparedness.

Best Team Not In The Playoffs

The Boston Bruins were the only team that had a plus goal differential and somehow did not qualify for the playoffs while the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Redwings who had minus goal differentials did.

The What If Playoff Series

What if Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop did not get injured?
What if Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos had been given the same “alternative medicine” that removes coronary heart disease blockages that I took to save my life, instead of being operated on to remove blood clots that kept him out of the playoffs until Tampa Bay’s final game?
What if the NHL started trying “alternative medicine” instead of always towing the government line set by the FDA and Health Canada?
What if the corrupt health care industry had been exposed for what it is?
Would Tampa Bay have beaten Pittsburgh?

Best NHL Playoff Feud

You can bet the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to be steaming after losing the Eastern Conference Final because their number one goaltender and best forward were out with injuries. Currently Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are the best teams in the Eastern Conference and this was only round 2 of the Crosby-Malkin era which is now squared 1-1. There will probably be many more Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay playoff match-ups in the immediate future so each team will get to know each other very well in the coming years.

You Should Have Been Here – Where Are You?

With all the high draft choices that have been nurtured and stockpiled for over half a decade, the Edmonton Oilers should have been a Stanley Cup contender – long ago. In a year when Canada did not ice a single playoff team and despite the acquisition of Connor McDavid, the alleged heir to Sidney Crosby on Canada’s Golden Hockey Chain that stretches back to Maurice Richard, Edmonton never even threatened to make the playoffs. Instead they finished near the bottom of the league as they usually do. There is some undiagnosed rot eating away at this team and until it is properly investigated and removed, Edmonton will remain a joke.

Hurry Up And Make It 8

For the first time since 1970, Canada did not have a single team in the playoffs. The odds are stacked against them 23-7 and this result may occur many more times in the future. So Canada is praying that the NHL opens the door for Quebec to join in the near future.

Pittsburgh Reclaims Its Projected Future

After floundering in the wilderness for seven years, the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally returned to the place projected for them when they assembled a team based on the one-two punch of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But how different from the team of 2009. That team was expected to win by overwhelming offence. This team won by being committed to playing good defense, as stressed by new coach Mike Sullivan.

It started in goal when untried Matt Murray (the real Conn Smythe Trophy winner as “official” Conn Smythe Trophy winner Sidney Crosby would be the first to tell you) replaced the injured, erratic Marc Andre Fleury and gave Pittsburgh the steady goaltending they have sorely lacked since they won the Stanley Cup in 2009. Pittsburgh became the hottest team in the last month of the regular season and kept that momentum and dedicated defensive play for the whole of the playoffs. That defensive commitment, starting in goal is the main reason Pittsburgh is now the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion.

It is now two Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold medals for Sidney Crosby the player who now wears the invisible emblem of Canada’s golden hockey chain. This chain goes back to the days of Maurice Richard. It is the Canadian player who is head and shoulders above everybody else – Canadian and international – in his playing time era. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the line includes in this order, Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and now Crosby.

Actually Crosby and Malkin did not have a particularly distinguished playoff period. They virtually disappeared during the Washington series and were outplayed by their rivals Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. But the very fact that they did not stick out is the reason why Pittsburgh is this year’s Stanley Cup Champion. Both stars bought in to Sullivan’s defensive commitment and what they gave was enough to carry the Penguins to the top. Actually they just played like one of the guys.

It has taken seven years for the Penguins to get back to the top. When Pittsburgh drafted Crosby and then Malkin it was projected that the Penguins would win Stanley Cups, not a Stanley Cup. But then General Manager Ray Shero tinkered the wrong way with the chemistry that had won the Cup in 2009 and Pittsburgh has been out in the wilderness ever since then searching for an answer.

A huge part of the problem was the erratic play of goaltender Marc Andre Fleury who never regained the form he displayed in 2009. In fact for Fleury this win is probably bitter sweet. He may be the champion but inside he probably knows he has played his last game as a Penguin. Pittsburgh is not going keep his large contract and his erratic goaltending after the steady performance Matt Murray gave the team. He is at the top of Pittsburgh’s trade list.

While Pittsburgh searched for an answer to get back to the top, there were casualties. General Manager Ray Shero who conceived the team as a one-two punch is now the GM of the New Jersey Devils. Former coach Dan Bylsma is now coaching the Buffalo Sabres. And the number of players who have come and gone while Pittsburgh searched for the winning formula around Crosby and Malkin are uncounted. But that is all in the past. Pittsburgh is back at the top where it was projected to be.

So who can stop Pittsburgh? At the top of the list has to be the Tampa Bay Lightning who barely lost to the Penguins in part thanks to a corrupt health industry that is concealing a cure for coronary heart disease that kept Steve Stamkos out of their line-up and unkind hockey gods who allowed their goaltender, Ben Bishop to be injured. Right beside them will be a re-tooled three time champion Chicago Blackhawks. And if they can find the chemistry again, the Los Angeles Kings could pose a challenge.

But if Pittsburgh continues to get the steady goaltending of Murray and the defensive commitment from the entire team, dethroning the Penguins is going to be a very tough task. Pittsburgh could reach the winner’s circle many more times before the Crosby-Malkin era ends.

First Dupuis, Then Stamkos, Now Howe

Yesterday on June 10, 2016, the NHL’s greatest living legend, Gordie Howe died at age 88, casting a dark pall on the remaining one or two games in this year’s playoff’s final. It is going to be difficult to hand out the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy to the winning team knowing Howe’s funeral is going to be scheduled. It is going to be difficult to follow up that funeral with the joyous events of the NHL’s awards banquet, the NHL draft and whatever NHL expansion announcement is made.

I found out the news by going to the NHL’s website and clicking the NEWS option. And in the very first article about Howe was the following line, spaced by itself that said it all:

“Howe was diagnosed with dementia in 2012 and had a series of strokes in 2014.”

Strokes are a form of coronary heart disease only they occur in the brain instead of around the heart, but they are one and the same. It is the build up of too much plaque in one area of the circulatory system that blocks the flow of life-giving blood and oxygen to the whole body. In the head it is called a stroke. Right Gordie? If it occurs in the chest area it is called a heart attack. Right Johnny Unitas? And if it occurs elsewhere in the body sometimes it is called blood clots. Right Pascal Dupuis and Steve Stamkos?

Less than one month after I published two articles on this blog  about how the corrupt health industry was deliberately concealing a cure for coronary heart disease; how it had impacted on the past; how it forced the unnecessary retirement of Pittsburgh Penguin Pascal Dupuis; how it played such a significant, indirect role in the Pittsburgh Penguin victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning by keeping star Lightning forward Steve Stamkos unnecessarily out of the playoffs until Tampa’s last game, hockey’s greatest living legend is now dead from the same disease.

The bottom line is that there is an existing “alternative medicine” that could have saved Howe.

It doesn’t matter that he was 88. Age is just a number, a measuring stick. It is health that matters whether a person lives or dies. I was 53 when I was diagnosed with a form of coronary heart disease. I took this “alternative medicine” remedy that “official medicine” and the pharmaceutical companies are trying so hard to suppress and I still live. If properly diagnosed in time, Howe could have been saved within 24 hours.

There have been two medical verdicts that have been around for ages: “died of old age”; “died of natural causes”.

Based on these terms people will say of Howe: “He lived a wonderful life but his time was up.” “We all have to go eventually and he did live a long life.” etc.

But those two verdicts are on the way out. More and more medical secrets are being uncovered all the time. Tomorrow’s 70 year old man will be able to do what today’s 50 year old man can do. Tomorrow’s professional athletes will retire at age 50 on average, not at today’s 35. More and more the real villains are not disease and aging but the corruption in the health industry, men and women who are making large profits from suffering and death.

I doubt if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman or any of the NHL’s Board of Governors and other executives will read this article or the other two. I doubt if anyone on the NHLPA executive will read them either. But Mr. Commissioner and all you other NHL big shots have entered a period of unnecessary mourning right at the most joyous time of the year for the NHL. For the next while, no matter how joyous the event is supposed to be, everything will be under a dark cloud because you never investigate or challenge “official medicine” no matter how damaging it really is.

And to the departed Mr. Howe: Have a good time wherever you’ve gone Gordie. But I know if the truth came out, you would still be celebrating another Stanley Cup Final here on Earth with us.

Cup Final = Lackluster

As a fan of hockey overall, I should be interested in the Cup final this year. The key word there is should. You have media darling Sidney Crosby against San Jose. (Sorry, Pittsburgh fans. I feel as though NBC does nothing but talk about Crosby, with little coverage on the Sharks. Kind of pathetic, now that you think about it…)

For those of you who are interested in this final, this little piece isn’t for you. Come back later if you decide that you ultimately think that this SCF sucked.

For those of you who decided that, yes, the final has sucked so far, congratulations. I feel your pain. I just haven’t been that emotionally attached to the series as most people should. It has nothing to do with Crosby or any member of the Penguins and how they’re probably going to win on Thursday. It just… I don’t know. I don’t think I can pinpoint my thoughts on the exact reason.

Maybe it’s because San Jose isn’t one of the network’s darling west teams. I could see more of an interest on my part if it was a team like St. Louis or – it pains me to say it – Chicago. Although I’m not sure I could keep my stomach intact if Patrick Kane lifted the Cup after his summer from Hell. No offense to the Blackhawks fans. I’m really not making any kind of friends here, am I?

Or maybe it’s just that all of the horses I had in the race in the playoffs kind of went “poof” and didn’t make it. I was literally in tears the day that the day of straddling happened. You know that day by now. Second round was just starting, but the first round was ending later that night. Read news, will have a good eight-in-the-morning cry. I didn’t exactly care about the rest of the playoffs. Games were on my television for background light/noise. It was just cringeworthy.

But don’t get me wrong: I thought the media was picking the Sharks left and right to win. It just doesn’t feel right when your pre-final pick is nearly dead in the water… Sorry about that. No pun intended. My vision was simple, and completely different from everyone else. My heart was telling me one thing, and my brain was going in another direction altogether. When you don’t want one team to win, it’s going to happen. And you’re not going to like it.

So when Thursday rolls around, I’m going to have TweetDeck up for all news pertaining to Game Five. I might find something else to watch, because there is no chance that I’m going to watch any more boredom. Another apology, folks: This final just isn’t my cup of tea.

Maybe it’s just iced tea that’s a bit too warm.

The 10 North American Cities Who SHOULD Get An NHL Franchise

This drawn out NHL expansion period was probably the most confused and disappointing of any “big 4″ North American sport expansions, that started out with 4 “done deals” being reported; to being reduced to only two fanatical cities that are all the NHL can get after it stated its greedy terms; to having the other two “done deals” not have proper NHL rinks under construction and even one city not even sure about which league it wants to join; to have the expansion reduced to only one team because of a currency crisis in one country; to maybe the NHL having to reduce its excessive demands because the North American business world has made it clear it will not accept them; to maybe having no expansion at all; and in the end leaving the NHL with two unbalanced conferences whether they expand or not.

All that was left on the NHL’s expansion table was Quebec City and Las Vegas, the two most fanatical cities who were willing to pay a $500 million expansion fee, plus a $10 million “consideration fee” ($8 million refundable if the offer was not suitable). The other two “done deals” Seattle and Toronto were glad to drop out using the NHL’s excessive terms as an excuse to not being able decide how and where to build proper arenas. Of 16 expansion applications for at least 2-4 NHL franchises, the NHL failed to get even its 4 “done deals”, an expansion that is probably unprecedented in “big 4″ expansion history. This is probably the first time there will be no competition between rival cities for a “big 4″ franchise.

But there are many North American cities that would welcome an NHL hockey franchise with open arms if the terms were right. In 2010, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made a tour of the three cities that lost their NHL teams in the 1990s, Quebec, Winnipeg, and Hartford and stated three reasonable terms for readmission: good ownership, a proper NHL arena, and an adequate fan base. All three of these cities have fanatical fans, but only Winnipeg met the other two conditions. Winnipeg is already back in the NHL and Quebec will get back in if and when it finds a suitable owner that the NHL can accept.

There are approximately 60 large metropolitan areas in North America at present so all four major North American sports leagues are only a fraction of what they could be. Before the Mortgage Meltdown, it seemed inevitable that all four leagues would adopt an NFL structure of 2 Conferences of 4 divisions and then expand to the next symmetrical number of 40 meaning 5 teams in each division.

Currently the NHL has 30 teams, meaning that it will eventually expand by 10 more teams to reach this ideal. During Bettman’s time as Commissioner, the NHL has mostly expanded or shifted teams to American cities that were unfamiliar with hockey, in an effort to land a rich American television contract by proving to the networks and their sponsors that hockey was an “American game”. Some have been successful but it has been reported that there have been as many as 10 money-losing American franchises during one season. The most embarrassing moments for the NHL were having to shift the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg and the Phoenix Coyote-Hamilton crisis.

I know that the future 40-team NHL will not match my idealized dream. Las Vegas, falls into that category of city so often chosen by Bettman; a city where hockey is unfamiliar to most citizens.  However owner Bill Foley and his management team did an outstanding job and Las Vegas can be deemed a success in what seemed a doubtful market

My 10 new expansion teams will not include cities like Las Vegas or Phoenix. All will be hockey-loving cities that more than meet Commissioner Bettman’s condition of a great fan base. I will also assume that every city will also meet Bettman’s other two conditions; good ownership and will have built a proper NHL arena. Based on these conditions, here are the best 10 cities for future NHL expansion.

I’ve recently updated this file to meet the changed conditions that have occurred.  When I originally wrote it, I had bought the NHL’s explanation that it  was keeping Quebec out of the league because of the Canadian dollar.  In fact they have “deferred” the Quebec bid because they do not like the potential owner who has many enemies on the NHL Board.   Also it can be assumed that Seattle now has a team and merely has to go through a token approval process.  And it can probably be assumed that Houston is now a “done deal” which the NHL will announce once the Seattle approval process is complete.

The other big change of course is that Las Vegas got admitted and is a resounding success thanks to good ownership and management.  When I originally wrote this article two years ago, I would not have chosen Las Vegas, but the good work at the ownership and management level has proven that a doubtful city be turned into a winner.  Another new development is whether the Arizona Coyotes will survive.  I am predicting that once conditions are right, the Coyotes will be shifted to Quebec City.  That way,  an unfortunate franchise that probably will not get a new arena built for them in Phoenix, will find a suitable new home while at the same time, the NHL will not have to accept a Quebec  bidder  whom they find unsuitable.

Even though the NHL can now be considered a 32 team league, I’ll still assume that their ultimate aim is 40 teams in an NFL type structure.  And though they only have 8 positions open, I’ll still list 10 cities that would be good choices to fill out the remaining openings.  And there is no guarantee that the NHL will stop at 40 teams.  In an NFL type structure, it is just as easy to expand to 48 teams (6 teams to a division) as it is to expand to 40.  I have made corrections to this article that will reflect the latest updates.  Originally I had listed Seattle as a candidate but it is a safe assumption to conclude that Seattle has already been admitted to the NHL, so I’ll have to replace to replace it with another city.

 

1. Quebec City

Videotron

They have already spent $400 million to build a proper arena and all they need to get is a suitable owner whom the NHL will accept. Quebec is the coming city in Canada and will market not only in the city of over 800,000 but all through Eastern Quebec province and the Maritimes as well.   Because of the ownership problem, I am betting that Quebec will get a relocated team, probably the Coyotes instead of an expansion team.  A returned Quebec will be one of the strongest franchises in the NHL.  Quebec-Montreal may have been the best rivalry in the NHL. Bring it back as soon as possible.

2. Second Southern Ontario, probably Hamilton

 

Hamilton

Other Southern Ontario possibilities include second Toronto, Oshawa, Kitchener, and London. But Hamilton already has an arena of more than 17,000 and is willing to spend $50 million to modernize it and raise the seating to a more than adequate 18,500. Hamilton has been kicked around enough by the NHL, blowing its chance in the early 1990s to Ottawa and then going through the Phoenix Coyote heartache. Like Quebec it is an overwhelming winner. The only problem besides the Canadian dollar is how to compensate greedy Toronto and Buffalo. But if New York-New York-New Jersey and Los Angeles-Anaheim can settle their differences, then this can be resolved too. And Hamilton-Toronto and Hamilton-Buffalo will be great rivalries.

3. Houston

Houston

Originally, this was Seattle’s position, but it can be safely assumed that Seattle will go through a token approval process and then be accepted.  I predict that Houston will be the next city to get an expansion team and that the NHL is only waiting for the Seattle approval process to be completed before they announce what is right now an unspoken “done deal”.  Houston did not make my original list.  They actually belong on my list of secondary cities:  Not as good as my best choices which all have indisputable great hockey fan bases, but ones that have a reasonable shot of being a resounding success.  I would rate these cities with at least a 50% chance of being successful.  I can live with a Houston franchise.  It is the largest American city without NHL hockey and would be a great rival for Dallas.  Other cities on my “secondary list” would include San Francisco, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, second Chicago, and San Diego.  And ANY Canadian city that got big enough would automatically jump onto my list of top 10 cities.   In this article, I’ve only listed the ones that are currently feasible.

 

4. Portland

 

Portland

Like Seattle, Portland has deep roots in Canadian hockey at the junior level and has even hosted the Memorial Cup tournament. After Seattle, Portland becomes the best American city for NHL expansion. The arena where the NBA Trailblazers play will certainly meet NHL conditions. It was rumored that Portland would bid for a team during this expansion but the NHL’s terms scared it off. A sure winner if Portland joins the NHL. They will have great rivalries with Vancouver, Seattle, and the three California teams.

5. Milwaukee

 

Milwaukee

Milwaukee has deep roots in hockey and would be a front runner for an expansion team if they could get the ownership and arena issues solved.  They have built a new arena, but is it big enough for hockey and is it too basketball friendly like the Barclay Center where the New York Islanders currently play. Like Seattle and Portland, the mystery is why it has taken them so long to join the NHL. Like Green Bay in the NFL, they would immediately have Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit as intense rivals and possibly Winnipeg as well.

6. Second Montreal

 

Montreal

At one time, Montreal had two NHL teams, the Canadiens and the Maroons, but the Maroons folded during the Great Depression year of 1938. Montreal is probably big enough now to support two NHL teams. All that is needed is to solve the arena and ownership problems and compensate the Canadiens. There would be no problem with rivalries with the Canadiens, Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Buffalo, Boston and a returned Hartford.

 

7. Hartford

 

Hartford

Hartford, once completely in the doldrums when I wrote this article, now has a good chance to return to the NHL soon.  The mayor of Hartford and the Connecticut governor want to update the old XL Center.  If the NHL can accept a renovated Seattle arena, there is no reason why they would not accept a  renovated Hartford arena.  When Bettman made his tour of 2010, he certainly affirmed that Hartford would be welcomed back if they met his conditions.  Once the arena renovation is finally settled, all Hartford needs is to find an investor who would front a Hartford bid.  Hartford with a proper arena and good ownership is a certain winner like the other cities on this list. They share the New England market including the large city of Providence, Rhode Island with the Boston Bruins.  A returned Whalers would renew their great rivalry with the Bruins as well as all the teams in the New York City area and every team in the Province of Quebec as well.

8. Third Southern Ontario (Second Toronto, Oshawa, Kitchener, London)

 

Toronto

The Southern Ontario hockey market is so good, it could probably support two new franchises. Once Hamilton got settled in, one of the four cities listed above would be a great choice for another Southern Ontario team. This would be a franchise created in the long term. This new Southern Ontario team would have a bundle of rivals including Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Buffalo, Detroit, and every franchise in the Province of Quebec.

9. Long-term Franchise In Canada: Saskatoon

 

Saskatoon

Over the next 10-20 years, the other 6 franchises could be added giving these next two cities a chance to grow. There has been talk of adding a Saskatchewan regional team like the CFL’s Roughriders since the 1970s when the WHA was rumored to establish a franchise. Saskatoon is one of Canada’s fastest growing smaller cities so by the time a decade or two passes, the population of the city and the province may be large enough to support a team. A Saskatoon team would have great rivalries with Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, and possibly with Minnesota, Milwaukee, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, and Spokane.

10. Long-term Franchise In The United States: Spokane

 

Spokane

Currently Spokane is one of the smaller, rising cities in the United States but it could be ready for the NHL after one or two decades. Spokane has deep roots in Canadian junior hockey like Portland and Seattle so there would be no problem with a fan base. And Spokane would have many rivals including Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg.