Word on the street is that the NHL is planning to expand to Seattle in the very near future. That’s great news for anybody who loves to watch shit hockey.
We all knew when the NHL realigned with an uneven spread that the plan was to eventually even things out again. Even as I blocked that wretched idea out of my mind, deep down I knew it to be true. Well now the push for expansion is becoming more vocal and I couldn’t disagree with it more.
First and foremost, why? Why would the NHL expand its numbers now when so many teams are struggling to make money? They just went through 2 labour stoppages in the past decade because their existing established markets were bleeding money. Now they want to add another? Excellent plan!
The Forbes estimation of NHL franchise values paints a pretty bleak picture the NHL’s most recent expansion clubs. 7 of the final 10 spots on the list are occupied by Bettman’s babies the Ducks, Lightning, Panthers, Predators, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets, and Coyotes. All of them have a negative operating income which averages -12.6 Million each. We’re talking serious money losing ventures.
That’s the Gary Bettman lead expansion.
Seattle will be a little different because it’s more northern than the other cities so I wouldnt call it a “Non-Trad” market, but at the same time there isnt a great track record of success for them to follow. There is no template for success unless you count Nashville only losing 3.4 Million a year a success.
Now NHL owners are pretty short sighted, the temptation of a one time expansion fee split 30 ways is apparently going to outweigh a decade (or more) of NHL style Welfare payments going the other way. For the life of me I dont know why clubs like the Oilers, Leafs, or Flames would accept a one time payout just so they could turn around and give that money back to the poor sisters of the League every single year.
Hell, if I were a failing NHL club owner I dont know why I would approve another body coming in and scooping up a potential market that I could move my failing business into. Then again, maybe the tunnel vision that occurs when you owe more than you make would make the 1 time pay day of expansion worth it all.
Lets move on to the real reason why I personally dont want to see NHL expansion. I dont want to watch shit hockey. And I definitely dont want to commit to watching that shit hockey for the length of time its going to take a true expansion team to turn into a decent club.
But, Arch, arent you an Oilers fan? Yes, and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Shouldn’t you be used to shit hockey by now?” No. The opposite. I’m tired of shit, boring, “tell me when it’s over” hockey.
The expansion Seattle [Insert Terrible Fan Sourced Name Here] are going to be horrible. Like really horrible. There would have to be an expansion draft which means the Seattle [Insert Terrible Fan Sourced Name Here] would pick over the unwanted or unprotected extra bits of the rest of the NHL. Albeit this time they would have to somehow pay up to the Salary Cap floor (so maybe Philly is in luck). Generally though that means the talent level is shockingly poor.
Last year 4 NHL clubs had either a 12 or a 13 goal scorer as their leading scorer. In a 82 game season that translates to 21 and 22 goals respectively. That contingent of boring goalless hockey made up 13% of the league. Lets assume that Seattle would fit into that category. In a full NHL season that would translate to ~400 games played where at least one club is icing a team that is as exciting as a Darryl Sutter press conference.
NHL expansion will no doubt have a very negative effect on the entertainment value of the games played.
Then of course there is the expanding player pool. A single NHL franchise will increase the number of professional contracts by anywhere from 45-50. That means 45-50 players who were not good enough to have their rights retained in the NHL today will be good enough tomorrow. The Linus Omarks of the world will find their way to the NHL not because they have the talent, but because we lowered the bar for them.
Make no mistake, there isnt another NHL worthy club out there waiting to be assembled. There arent even 30 in the 30 team NHL right now. The bottom 3-4 teams of the NHL are barely more than AHL clubs trying to luck out in the Draft lottery.
No, I’m not excited at the prospect of an Expansion team going to Seattle. I’m not excited about it one bit. I’d be much happier if the NHL did the right thing and moved one of their failing clubs there, but that just makes too much damned sense, I guess.