Bang on Devil - and perhaps the Wild back to the North Stars.
Really depends on what the league is trying to do.
If everyone is content and wants to keep the league and the fan base how it is and maybe make some more money, by all means go to Winnepeg, Quebec and Hartford. Continue to be the 4th tier league and possibly be passed by the World Poker Tour and MMA in fanbase and profitability.
You will always have a solid fanbase in Canada that much is sure. It will not grow the sport and may actually contract the fanbase. It seems that as the native Canadians are declining in number and immigrants are becoming more common the traditional Canadian sport is actually becoming less popular. hockey on the decline in Canada.
So that leaves the ol' USA... and where are the people going in the US? Wait.. they are leaving the "Traditional Hockey Markets" ie Cold States and moving to the "Sun Belt" where everyone wants to contract. Oh and by the way... more players are being drafted out of California, Nevada and even Arizona than Oregon and Washington. So much for the "strong developmental programs there". I don't understand why people seem to think that Hockey can only exist where it is cold. You seem to view it as a reward for having to live in an icy hell for 5 months. If that is true then we are really on our way back to an original 6 senario.
Also another hint... Joe American fan living in the markets where the NHL needs to be to grow and be healthy doesn't want a rivalry with Winnepeg or Quebec. That is like having a rivalry between Toronto and Bakersfield. One it a giant metro area and the other a backwater. How do you even get behind that? Even if they do go back to the smaller Canadian cities does anyone see that as a good thing? What good will it do the league in the long term to have a team in a city like Winnepeg? It has 700k people and is growing at a rate of like 2% that means in 25 years at that rate it will be the size of one of Phoenix's suburbs. It may be profitable in the short term but anything that makes them a good choice now truly shows the the NHL is in trouble.
What needs to happen is the NHL needs to continue to grow the game by going to the areas where there are a lot of people and selling the sport. It is an awesome sport and people will become fans if they see it for what it is. If the NHL goes backwards to smaller markets it will take that much longer to reach the top tier again.
- 55fan likes this