“Doesn’t Mean We Won’t Listen to People”: NHL Deputy Commissioner Drops Massive Hint on New Franchises

Published 03/10/2023, 3:00 PM EST

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There has been some buzz around NHL expanding the league to admit more states into the mix. Fans have already started daydreaming about having all the states added to the League. ESPN personalities John Buccigross and Kevin Weekes have continuously posted certain mysterious tweets, with logos of Houston and Atlanta, which have resulted in the fans yearning for more.

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After the success of the Seattle Kraken and the Vegas Golden Knights, is it Houston and Atlanta’s turn? While Atlanta once had a hockey team for itself, Houston might finally get one too.

Is the NHL making plans for expansion?

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According to Daily Faceoff, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly initially answered the question negatively, saying, “I don’t know. No change in position on this end.” However, he added, “Expansion isn’t our priority right now. But it doesn’t mean we won’t listen to people or groups who have interest. That happens to include both Atlanta and Houston. But it also includes other cities as well.” Is that a yes or a no?

The NHL received many requests from interested cities to be a part of the League. Apparently, Seattle and Vegas were in this category for a while before their NHL dreams came true. In addition to these two, there was Quebec City, Kansas City, Portland, Oregon, and Saskatoon that showed interest. Many parties also wanted a second team in the Greater Toronto Area. Quebec City even built the Videotron Centre worth $370 million CAD with hopes to impress the NHL. However, the Centre sits empty, just like Quebec City without a team.

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The criteria for admitting or denying the requests for NHL teams have not been revealed as such. However, Daly has ensured that it is the same for all the cities. According to him, “I don’t think Atlanta and Houston are in any better or any worse position than anyone else who has expressed interest in the last 12-18 months.” Therefore, why they might be given a team next is anyone’s guess. But it might have something to do with how lucrative the market is.

The success of Seattle and Vegas has stunned the League

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According to some sources, Seattle and Vegas have been in the top 10 revenue-generating teams in the league. The expansion franchise fees collected from both teams totaled a whopping $1.15 billion, which meant all the league owners received around $38 million from the expansion. These numbers, along with the expected sale of the Ottawa Senators which could be in the $800 million range, and the sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2021 for $850 million, are indicative of the fact that franchise expansion fees could touch as high as $1 billion in the future. While the numbers are good, they are still minuscule compared to other major leagues such as the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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Not only this, but the expansion has resulted in certain other issues. Concern surrounds the fact that the addition of more teams could result in dilution of the quality of the League, which has already been felt after the inclusion of Seattle and Vegas. In addition to this, people are skeptical about what Atlanta has to offer. There already have been two teams that did not survive Atlanta, the Flames and the Thrashers, resulting in losses of hundreds of millions. While the idea of expansion sounds exciting, the practical implications need to be carefully weighed to ensure that the League survives.

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Written by:

Apoorva Behl

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Apoorva Behl is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has a Master's degree in Law from the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi. Besides being a lawyer, she has a passion for reading and a penchant for writing.
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Edited by:

Debmallya Chakraborty

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