Subban Paid The Price For General Failure

So far in the NHL off season, the three most significant events have been Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman’s belief that his team is good enough to win it all now, shown by his signing of three of his top stars to long term contracts; the trade of Taylor Hall by Edmonton to New Jersey; and Montreal trading P. K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber, a swap of top defensemen.

From Nashville’s point of view, they are trading an old veteran who cannot get any better for a much younger player who has the potential to improve. They think they have won the trade for that reason.

But to Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin, Subban was the up-front reason why Montreal missed the playoffs. The Canadiens started out like a house on fire and raced to the top of the standings in both conferences. Then Montreal goaltender Carey Price got injured and the team plummeted for the remainder of the season until it dropped out of playoff contention altogether.

Several conclusions can be made. First is the over-dependence of the team on Price and the inability of any of the Montreal goaltender backups to either fill his shoes or to inspire the team to rally around them. There would be no Matt Murray to the rescue like there was in Pittsburgh.

Second was the inability of the coaching staff and the management to either find a worthy replacement for Price or to rally and inspire the team to make up for his loss. And third was the lack of leadership on the team itself to find a rallying point to carry the team forward despite trying circumstances. It is for this reason that Subban was made the culprit.

Bergevin must have believed that Subban was one of the leaders of the Canadiens and his spiritual failure to be the rallying point during the team’s free fall made him a star player of limited value. What he sees in acquiring Weber and also signing Andrew Shaw is that if Price gets injured again, there will be players who have the inner steel to keep the team’s head above water and not panic.

Bergevin had better be right. Subban was a popular player in Montreal and his trade for the much older Weber raises many questions about Montreal’s future and the decisions for the trade.

Do you blame the team’s collapse on the lack of leadership by the team’s star players and have you picked the right one to trade? Is Subban merely a scapegoat for coach Michel Therrien’s inability to rally the team and Bergevin’s inability to sign a competent backup goaltender during the previous off season or make a trade for one after Price got hurt? Why should Subban be traded when he does not play the position that Price plays? Why did Montreal build a team that was overly-dependent on its goaltender?

In making such a controversial trade, Bergevin is putting both Therrien’s and his own future on the line. Because if Montreal remains in the doldrums and Subban flourishes in Nashville, there will be questions raised about the leadership of the team and this time the players will not be the focus of it.

Subban for Weber will either be viewed as a wise decision or rank with the misuse and departure of Patrick Roy – the last time Montreal won the Stanley Cup.

Steve Yzerman Wants To Win – Now

Of all the off season signings and maneuverings that have occurred in the NHL since July 1, the most straight forward is that of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager, Steve Yzerman. He believes he has the team to win it all not only next year but for years to come.

Yzerman has made quick work to lock up three key members of the Lightning to long term contracts, Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Alex Killorn. It seems that only the goaltending question has to be resolved.

Yzerman clearly believes that his team is the team of the present and has the personnel to go all the way. The Lightning made it to the Stanley Cup final in 2015 only to lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in 6 tough games. And this year they barely lost to the champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final in the maximum 7 games (Thanks in part to the NHL not accepting “alternative medicine” which has an unrecognized cure for coronary heart disease which kept Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos out of the playoffs until the very last game with Pittsburgh. Had Stamkos tried it, it is likely he would not have had to undergo an operation to remove blood clots and would not have missed a single game. But “established medicine” to which the NHL gives heed is bent on concealing this remedy and quite possibly cost the Lightning the Stanley Cup.).

Pittsburgh and Chicago are probably the cream of the crop in the current NHL, but if any other team has a chance to move into that category it is probably the Lightning. They do not seem to need much to put them over the top except that their players, particularly Stamkos, Hedman and goaltender Ben Bishop stay healthy at playoff time. Had Stamkos been healthy and available for all 7 games against Pittsburgh, the result might have been different.

Dethroning the Penguins and then possibly getting by Chicago will not be easy. Pittsburgh got improved playoff goaltending from Matt Murray and an overall better defensive commitment from the entire team including star players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And yet they just barely beat Tampa Bay that was without its top forward and starting goaltender. Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay is probably the best rivalry in the NHL right now.

In signing these players to long term contracts, General Manager Yzerman clearly believes that a fully healthy Lightning roster is a match for Pittsburgh and probably Chicago or whoever wins the Western Conference. The Lightning have not won the Stanley Cup since 2004 and Yzerman believes this current roster is capable of going all the way when healthy. The biggest off season trades have been P.K. Subban to Nashville and Taylor Hall to New Jersey but the most direct statement about winning the Stanley Cup has been made by Steve Yzerman and Tampa Bay.

Lindros Will Be Remembered For The Wrong Reasons

The NHL finally dealt with an uncomfortable matter when it named its newest members to the Hockey Hall Of Fame and admitted the controversial Eric Lindros. Certainly his career statistics merit admission for his 15 year career; 372 goals, 493 assists, 865 points, in only 760 games, an average of well over a point a game.

But when people mention Lindros’s name, it conjures up the worst images; bigotry, over-hype, prima donna, image marketing, underachievement, immodesty, whining, brittle physical condition, personal ambition instead of team play, and just general stubborn obnoxiousness. Admitting Lindros to the Hockey Hall Of Fame is like admitting Pete Rose to the Baseball Hall Of Fame. They both deserve to be there but you hold your noses and you get the ceremony over as quickly and quietly as possible.

From the start when Lindros and his ambitious family became fully aware of his potential awesome hockey talents, unlike every other potential child hockey superstar including the likes of Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, etc., he would have two goals instead of one: To develop his hockey skills like them, but also to be marketed to make as much money and fame as possible. And all too often the latter goal dominated, leading to ugly, insulting consequences.

The first blatant example occurred in junior hockey in the OHL. Wayne Gretzky did not want to play in distant Sault Ste. Marie but something was worked out and Gretzky spent his only year of junior hockey there. But Lindros flat out refused to report to the Greyhounds. Sault Ste. Marie was considered the boondocks, too far away from where the action and money was which was located in teams around the Toronto area. The Greyhounds were forced to trade Lindros to Oshawa. When the Greyhounds played the Generals, some Greyhound players wore black armbands as a retort to Lindros.

None of this bothered Lindros and his family with their overall marketing plan. They deliberately allowed him to get inflated images. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux had now been in the NHL for several years and it was time to think about who their successor might be on Canada’s Golden Hockey Chain (ie. The best player in Canada who would stand head and shoulders above every other current player, a link that stretches back to Maurice Richard). Lindros, with his family’s encouragement would be known and marketed as “The Next One”.

But when Lindros finished junior hockey and it was time to be drafted into the NHL, the worst city in both his and his parents’ eyes drafted him; French speaking, small market Quebec City. Quebec also believed that he was the “next one” and drafted him to turn their ailing team around. Again Lindros refused to report, citing Quebec’s alien French character and its limiting marketing environment. Both Lindros and his family were convinced he could never get the money and fame he deserved unless he played in a big English speaking Canadian or American city. If Pierre Karl Peladeau is the example of inappropriate French Canadian bigotry by his remarks about NHL Board of Governors member Geoff Molson, then Lindros was his English Canadian counterpart with his attitude to Quebec.

Despite Lindros’s two episodes of being a whining prima donna, he was still coveted as the “next one”. One of those who believed this was Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Bobby Clarke. The Flyers had not won the Stanley Cup since 1975 and every member on Canada’s Golden Hockey Chain had won at least one Cup. Clarke thereupon worked out a massive eight player swap with Quebec along with $15 million. Lindros was finally in one of the markets where he had always wanted to be.

But now he had to pay off. Since Lindros had been proclaiming that he was the next link on Canada’s Golden Hockey Chain, Clarke was expecting at least one Stanley Cup during Lindros’s career. But Lindros would only reach the Stanley Cup Final once in 1997 when the Flyers were ignominiously swept by the Detroit Red Wings with Lindros only getting one goal during the four games.

Lindros’s career rapidly deteriorated after that year. He began to get concussions and other injuries and he questioned the competence of the Flyers’ medical staff. He and his family began to feud publicly with Bobby Clarke. Clarke himself had an illustrious career in the NHL, playing with diabetes and publicly questioned whether Lindros was tough enough and put out enough to justify the billing of the “next one”. To add salt to his wounds of disillusionment, Clarke had to stomach Quebec, now become Colorado win the Stanley Cup with players whom Clarke had traded away to get Lindros.

The truth about Lindros’s final game with the Flyers may never be known unless someone steps forward and admits that Lindros was deliberately sent out to be injured. Lindros had been stripped of his captaincy by Clarke and had missed most of the season with another concussion.

Now in playoff game 7 against the New Jersey Devils, he was deliberately sent out, with that brittle, easily injured head on his shoulders, on to the ice against the NHL’s hardest hitter, Scott Stevens. Within a few minutes, Stevens had sent the “next one”, supposedly the Flyers and the NHL’s “best player” with his eggshell head into la-la land with yet another concussion. You can still see the clean but devastating check on Youtube.

The rest of Lindros’s NHL career was anti-climatic and unmemorable. He would play for the New York Rangers, Toronto, and Dallas before retiring in 2007. He would never win the Stanley Cup.

So now Lindros finally goes into the Hockey Hall Of Fame. If there had been no exaggerated claim to be the “next one”, the rejections of Sault Ste. Marie and Quebec City, the over-hype, the inflated hopes, and the final disillusionment about not being the player Clarke and everyone else expected him to be, Lindros would probably have been admitted to the Hall of Fame earlier and people would be marveling about his above point-a-game statistics.

But the name Lindros is more synonymous with bitterness, underachievement, controversy, injury, and disillusionment instead of glory. He is getting his due with the Hall Of Fame, but it is on a lower rung than what he and his parents ever intended.

Matthews is Signed, You Can Shut Up Now.

The biggest “question mark” this off-season so far has been “When will Auston be signed to his contract?” I’ve refrained from writing about it so far because it’s stupid, and incredibly panicky and unwarranted. When has this management group as a whole ever tipped their hand about anything? “Oh they’re playing hardball, they’re going to piss him off!” Says who? Shanahan, Lamoriello and co. haven’t said a damn thing to anyone, we don’t know their motivations, and we don’t know what took so long. But lo and behold, he’s on contract!

 

A big part of the fan base is currently losing their minds over every little thing that could be perceived as anything less than a home run. Signing Polak “It’s a step back! He’ll take time from the rookies!” We aren’t sending out a lineup of 6 “25 and under” defencemen, especially without having veterans ready to step up and help, that’s stupid. Signing Martin, “Oh this plug is going to take time away from the kids, Lou is literally Nonis!” Management has been consistent with their views on having the kids sheltered and – as discussed in my article on this signing, said they’d be bringing in toughness to help protect the younger guys on the team.

 

The Media and Blogosphere hasn’t helped in this regard, some publications have discovered what The Sun has seen for ages: negativity drives views. The Mainstreamers get frustrated that they no longer have “sources” in the Leafs to know what they plan on doing, and publish hit pieces. The bloggers, many of whom consider advanced stats as the be all and end all of hockey conversation, are railing on their perceived “step back” to the Burke, Nonis and Randy days of hiring fighters to play 5 minutes a night and spend 20 in the box. It’s amazing how two groups of usually demonstrably intelligent people can be so fixated on making something out of literally nothing.

 

Anyways, Matthews is signed for max bonuses as per his agent, only the management know what they’re doing, and the Media, as well as the rest of us, have no damn clue what it is until it happens. Now onto almost 4 more weeks of speculation on Jimmy Vesey and how it’s somehow going to be Lou’s fault he won’t sign with us. Joy.

NHL Cannot Forget Cleveland

Last month on this blog, a colleague, Amanda, wrote about the AHL Championship of the Lake Erie Monsters and complained that ESPN did not do much to report about it. She extolled that the Monsters were playing to near sellout crowds and felt that the Monsters were not getting their due from the media.

Obviously Amanda is from a much younger generation and does not know the story of the NHL’s very brief attempt to bring big league hockey to Cleveland in the 1970s. As matter of fact it is part of a greater mystery that I have written about on another blog, the story of big league hockey in Ohio and Indiana.

In light of her article and in this current era of NHL expansion with Los Vegas getting the NHL’s 31st team and Gary Bettman currently frantically working behind the scenes to find a suitable Quebec City owner instead of racist Quebecor (probably Mario Lemieux, see my full series of recent articles to get the complete story of this unfortunate situation) so that the Nordiques can become the 32nd team, it is good to ask the question about why Cleveland – and for that matter Cincinnati and Indianapolis – does not get mentioned when NHL expansion is discussed. The answer might help explain to Amanda and others why there is poor media coverage about Lake Erie – with the NHL’s blessing.

As mentioned above, I have written about this situation on another blog, where I have called Ohio-Indiana, hockey’s Death Valley. It should not be. It is a region close to the Canadian border and between such American hockey hotbeds as Buffalo and Pittsburgh in the east and Chicago, Detroit, and Minnesota in the west. The only team to claim fans in the region is the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets in fact are the longest surviving big league hockey team in Ohio-Indiana and even they have lost money for many years of their existence and there have been rumors that the team would be moved.

Minor league hockey has had some success in the two states since before I was born. The Cleveland Barons had many successful minor league years. But surprisingly big league hockey has failed to prosper and no one has ever been able to explain why.

The story of big league hockey in Ohio-Indiana begins with the WHA, a league that was formed in the early 1970s to challenge the NHL’s monopoly, just like the AFL once challenged the NFL. The WHA had a very patchy history and the four remnants of the league, Quebec, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Hartford merged into the NHL in 1980. But the size of the league was always fluctuating, sometimes reaching as many as twelve teams in various cities.

At one time, the league had franchises in all the big cities of Ohio and Indiana except Columbus. In fact the Cleveland team, called the Crusaders played in the best arena of the WHA, that seated approximately 18,500.

But the Crusaders failed to attract enough fans and went out of business. When that happened, the NHL jumped into the pond. They had a troubled franchise of their own since the first expansion of 1967, the bay area Oakland, sometimes called California Golden Seals. When they saw the WHA vacating their best arena, they immediately shifted the ill-starred Seals to Cleveland and renamed them the Barons in memory of their traditional minor league team. It was thought that the reason hockey failed in Cleveland was because the WHA was not “big league” enough and that once the NHL moved in, every seat in that 18,500 seat arena would be filled.

But the NHL actually did worse than the WHA. Usually attendance was between 5000-6000. In a 40 home game season, the Barons only drew more than 10,000 fans 7 times. After the payroll was missed twice, and there was talk of folding the team in mid-season, something that had not happened to the NHL since the 1940s, the NHLPA made a loan of $1.3 million so that the team could finish the season.

The team was sold to new owners who invested a lot of money to keep the Barons playing in Cleveland but the result was still the same. One night Cleveland defenceman Len Frig who was being ejected from a game, took off his jersey and flung it on the ice in frustration in front of the usual 5000 fans.

The next year the NHL folded the team and merged it with another troubled franchise, the Minnesota North Stars. Ohio-Indiana would never have another NHL team until the Blue Jackets were created in 2000.

Meanwhile the WHA still tried to keep its Indianapolis and Cincinnati teams going. Many people do not remember that Wayne Gretzky’s first professional team was Indianapolis and his colleague Mark Messier was there too. But not even Gretzky and Messier could save the Indianapolis team and it folded in mid-season with Gretzky being sold to Edmonton and Messier moving on to Cincinnati.

And when the 1980 merger with the NHL occurred, the Cincinnati WHA team declined to join the NHL and went out of business too. Big league hockey in the Death Valley of Ohio and Indiana would not reappear until the Blue Jackets inhabited Columbus in 2000.

And yet as Amanda reported, the Lake Erie Monsters are a popular draw among local fans, but the NHL still fails to get any benefit from it. Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis would be great rivals for Columbus and other teams like Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Washington, but their names are not even whispered when NHL expansion is mentioned.

Few people today remember the Cleveland Crusaders, the Cleveland Barons, the Cincinnati Stingers and the Indianapolis Racers but the NHL has not. The horrible memory of those teams has left a permanent scar on the NHL. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets are still a precarious team that could be relocated if things went sour.

No one knows why big league hockey is either a complete failure or in such an unpopular, precarious position in the strange Death Valley of Ohio-Indiana, so close to the Canadian border. Lake Erie is indeed a monstrous memory for the NHL. And from their standpoint, when the media says the less about the AHL champion Monsters, the better.

More Western NHL Expansion Coming

Unless you are a rich man from Hartford, Connecticut that has the money and plan to restore the Hartford Whalers in a new NHL size arena, the NHL will not be interested in you very much at this time. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made a tour of the three cities who lost their teams in the 1990s in 2010 and promised them readmission if they met certain terms. Winnipeg is back and once Bettman manipulates Mario Lemieux into fronting an acceptable Quebec City bid, the Nordiques will rejoin the NHL.

So except for Hartford, the NHL is unlikely to talk to eastern bidders who want an expansion team. Though if you are from Hamilton or Baltimore and you knock on his door with $500 million in your hand, you might still be able to twist his arm and get him to reconsider.

But the NHL wants to balance up its conferences after restructuring (see the previous article I wrote about the new NHL structure) and shift either Columbus or Detroit and maybe Nashville back to the east. So right now its priority is to admit two new western teams.

For this article, let’s speculate who is out west and might want to help the NHL out of its current dilemma and become the 33rd and 34th NHL teams providing they too have at least $500 million to spend. This is my own personal ranking of the candidates.

1. Seattle                                             Seattle
Rank: 1
Strengths: Excellent fan base, Deep roots in Canadian Junior Hockey, First American city to win the Stanley Cup
Weaknesses: No NHL arena and dithering and bungling about it, No up front keen investor like Bill Foley, Bungled its front running status during the current expansion joining Hamilton and Houston as number 1 candidates who failed to get an NHL franchise, Can’t decide whether to join the NHL or NBA
Rivals: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, new Portland and San Francisco teams

Seattle is an overwhelming winner if it ever gets its act together about a new arena and which league it wants to join. But it blew its chances during the current expansion and nothing has changed so any city can grab this leader’s team once again.

2. Houston                                        Houston
Rank: 2
Strengths: Largest North American city without hockey, NHL wants the city in badly especially aa a rival for Dallas
Weaknesses: Failed WHA city, Failed in earlier expansion bid joining Hamilton and now Seattle as a front running bidder not to get a team, NHL does not like Houston’s arena, No gung-ho owner like Bill Foley, uncertain fan base
Rivals: Dallas, Arizona, St. Louis, Colorado, Las Vegas, a new Oklahoma City and Kansas City team

The NHL would bend over backwards if Houston would only get its act together. I only rank it number 2 because the NHL wants it so badly. But the obvious indifference to the NHL makes it easy to drop in the rankings.

3. Portland                                     Portland
Rank: 3
Strengths: Deep roots in Canadian Junior hockey, great arena, great fan base
Weaknesses: No gung-ho bidder likes the NHL’s terms
Rivals: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, new Seattle, San Francisco/Oakland teams

The NHL was hoping that Portland would put in a bid during the current expansion but any potential bidder refused to consider the $500 million expansion fee as being not congruent with the true value of an NHL team. Portland with its NHL size arena is probably the best western city for expansion right now.

4. Milwaukee                              Milwaukee
Rank: 4
Strengths: Deep roots in hockey, great fan base, new Milwaukee arena is NHL ready
Weaknesses: No enthusiastic NHL owner has appeared
Rivals: Minnesota, Chicago, Winnipeg, occasional games with eastern team Detroit, new Saskatoon team

Milwaukee would jump ahead of the top three western teams if they could find an enthusiastic owner. It is an overwhelming winner if the city could ever get an NHL franchise.

5. Oklahoma City                 Oklahoma
Rank: 5
Strengths: Upstart city failed to get an NHL expansion team so they grabbed the NBA Seattle Supersonics instead and made a success of them, Enthusiastic fans over minor league hockey
Weaknesses: Can the current arena accommodate hockey?, No potential owner has appeared
Rivals: Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Colorado, Arizona, Las Vegas, new Kansas City and Houston teams

Oklahoma City is the best dark horse city for getting an NHL team. The sports fans there want to prove they are a big league city and so far with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA they have proven it. But until they find a good owner and resolve the arena issue, they remain a long shot.

6. Kansas City                      Kansas City
Rank: 6
Strengths: Great new arena seeking a tenant in both the NHL and NBA
Weaknesses: Failed NHL franchise, Uncertain fan base, Potential bidders denounced the NHL’s greedy terms
Rivals: St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas, Colorado, Arizona, Nashville, Las Vegas, new Houston, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City teams

Uncertain fan base is just not trustworthy. Kansas City has hosted pre-season NHL exhibition games with either great or lousy attendance depending on who was playing. Kansas City once briefly had an NHL team in the 1970s but it did not last long. The new arena is excellent but no potential owner has appeared and the fan base makes it unlikely to really seek a team at such a price.

7. San Francisco/Oakland                          San Francisco
Rank: 7
Strengths: Success of the San Jose Sharks, The bay area is big enough to support two teams
Weaknesses: Failed Oakland team in the 1970s, Potential new arena is being considered only for NBA Golden State Warriors and not the NHL, No supportive owner has appeared
Rivals: San Jose, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Vancouver, new Portland and Seattle teams

San Francisco seems more enthusiastic about basketball than hockey since a potential new arena never mentions a new NHL team. For now the NHL is quite content to leave San Jose as the only team in the bay area.

8. Saskatoon                           Saskatoon
Rank: 8
Strengths: Enthusiastic fan base for a provincial, regional team for the whole Province of Saskatchewan, Same spirit that keeps the CFL Roughriders afloat, One of the few provinces in Canada that is prospering, Saskatoon is one of the fastest growing small cities in Canada, Where are you Ice Edge?, Ineptitude of its western rivals
Weaknesses: The Canadian dollar, Saskatoon despite its recent growth is still a small city, New arena would have to be built within a few years
Rivals: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Chicago, a new Milwaukee team

Despite its small size, the Ice Edge group made a serious bid to get the Phoenix Coyotes and play some of their games in Saskatoon. Gary Bettman invited them to resume contact in the future. Regina is getting a new stadium for the CFL Roughriders so why not an NHL arena for Saskatoon? There was talk about putting a WHA team in Saskatoon in the 1970s. The Canadian dollar is a weakness but Gary Bettman is not letting it stop him from bringing back Quebec and he’ll listen to Ice Edge again if they can come up with the cash and solve the arena problem. And if their western rivals remain so inept, this could be the mouse that roared, and steal an NHL franchise from under their noses.

Here Is The New NHL Structure

Once NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman completes his behind-the-scenes work and finds a buyer for Mario Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguin shares and then helps him (or someone like him) to put together an investment group to front a new Quebec City expansion bid (so that the NHL can collect its second $500 million expansion fee), the NHL will restructure itself into an NFL pattern of 2 Conferences with 4 divisions with 4 teams each. This structure will allow the NHL to continue to expand to the next symmetrical number 40 (5 teams) and probably to 48 (6 teams).

So probably within a short time the NHL will have the pattern shown below. Unfortunately, the NHL failed because of its greedy terms to get the number of teams it was seeking for the current expansion (ie. Quebec and 3 western teams) so that will mean that one eastern team (probably Columbus, second choice Detroit) will be shifted back to the western side temporarily.

I may be wrong but this is what I believe NHL fans will see for the next temporary period within the next few years.

                                                    Eastern Conference 

Quebec                                                                                         New York Rangers
Montreal                                                                                       New York Islanders
Ottawa                                                                                          New Jersey
Boston                                                                                          Philadelphia

Washington                                                                                 Toronto
Carolina                                                                                        Buffalo
Florida                                                                                           Detroit
Tampa Bay                                                                                   Pittsburgh

                                                     Western Conference

Winnipeg                                                                                       Columbus
Calgary                                                                                           Chicago
Edmonton                                                                                     Nashville
Vancouver                                                                                     Minnesota

Los Angeles                                                                                   Dallas
Anaheim                                                                                        Colorado
San Jose                                                                                          Arizona
Las Vegas                                                                                       St. Louis

This arrangement will only be temporary. More western expansion is coming (future article to come on this subject). In particular, the NHL wants Columbus and maybe Nashville shifted to the east and Pittsburgh to be reunited with Philadelphia in a division.

The playoff structure will change too. Either the top two teams from each division will make the playoffs meaning 16 teams like there is now or the NHL will introduce a new preliminary round with the second and third place teams in each division meeting in a best of 3 or 5 format and the division winner getting a bye.

But this will only be temporary. If you live in a western North American city and have the money and want to see your town get an NHL expansion team, your timing could not be better. Two more western cities are going to join the NHL as soon as possible. Bet on it.