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NHL needs to use logic in expansion

Gary Bettman

What is with the NHL’s desire to keep expanding to southern USA? Other than the LA Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning every other NHL franchise located south of the Washington Capitals fights for fan support.

In 2013-14 Columbus, Dallas, Florida and Arizona were the three lowest ranked teams in attendance. Even Colorado, a cold wintery city, ranked in the bottom third in the league in average attendance. Nashville ranked 20th, St. Louis 18th and San Jose 17th.

These are not Hockey cities.

The idea for why the NHL wants to keep expanding south is because of an idea that avid hockey fans from Canada and the northern United State like to retire in warmer climates and desire hockey. But history just shows it is not the case and warm weather cities for the most part just do not support the NHL.

That is why the apparent expansion to Las Vegas makes no sense.

It makes sense for a league like the NHL to want to be the first to enter Sin City with a permanent franchise. The NHL has a very dedicated fan base but not really a casual fan base that has helped the NFL, MLB and NBA pull so far ahead of it in the ranks. At least not in America. Without any professional team because of the stigma of gamble the people of Las Vegas are clamoring for a franchise to call their own and probably would really be a dedicated group, at least early on.

The other southern teams have shown that the fan support just does not last, especially when the team loses. People in Vegas just don’t grow up going outside and playing hockey on the street and more than likely ice skating is not a particular popular activity in the middle of the desert. The sport being a part of life in a community is the basis of a strong professional franchise. Kids in Los Angeles play basketball. Kids in Dallas play football. Kids in Atlanta go out and play baseball. Kids in Las Vegas are not playing hockey, no, kids in Minnesota and Chicago and Toronto do that.

Expansion is not a bad thing for leagues. While the NHL doesn’t really have enough stars to spread across the 30 teams they have, much less more teams, building a fan rabid fan base and bringing in the franchise buy-ins and TV contract money expansion will provide will help the league grow. The new locations just have to make sense.

Seattle is a great fan base in the north where Hockey is much more popular. Quebec City has a strong history and natural rival as well as a new NHL-ready arena on the way. Portland would be a natural rival for any expanded Seattle franchise and only has the NBA to compete with. Starting a Seattle and Portland franchise at the same time would be a smart move. Even moving back to a place like Hartford, a city that did and still does idolize the team they had, the Whalers.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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