It’s that time of the year when hockey will soon be upon us, and it just wouldn’t be right if we didn’t start off with some good ol’ fashioned rumours.
The latest rumour is that by 2017, the NHL will have added four more franchises to the league, and even though the league has officially denied it, sports commentators are already busy talking about where these four teams may appear. According to the experts, the next expansion will feature the return of hockey to Quebec City and a second team in the Greater Toronto Area, along with new teams in Seattle and Las Vegas.
First of all, I don’t understand why Las Vegas needs a hockey team. Putting a team in the middle of the desert so far has not gone well: The newly rebranded Arizona Coyotes, for instance, are still struggling financially and are currently relying on a taxpayer subsidy to stay afloat, all amidst continued relocation rumours.
On the other hand, the nostalgic fan in me loves the idea of Quebec returning to the NHL — after all, my first NHL game was the Canucks hosting Guy LaFleur and the Nordiques at the Coliseum. As for Seattle, the addition of another team that’s actually in the Pacific Northwest might provide the Canucks with a true rival. (The Flames and the Oilers already have the battle of Alberta to worry about.)
But if we really want to provide the Canucks with a decent rivalry, why not go one step further? If Toronto can supposedly support a second NHL franchise, why not Vancouver? Both teams are known for their capacity crowds but it should be noted that the Canucks currently hold the longest active consecutive sellout streak in the NHL. Though Toronto’s Air Canada Centre can hold an extra thousand people, this is still an impressive feat.
Financially, the Canucks are also holding steady, with the fourth most valuable team in the NHL, currently valued at around $700 million. Though, normally, fourth place is nothing to write home about, it’s worth noting that the three teams leading the pack are all members of the Original Six, and that Vancouver is only $150 million out of second place. This goes to show how profitable a team in Vancouver is, and would continue to be in the future. Despite only being in the NHL since 1970, the Canucks have managed to produce one of the highest revenues, and they’ve done it without winning a championship.
Another reason why Vancouver would make an excellent destination for an expansion team is the infrastructure. With apologies to Giants fans, the Pacific Coliseum could easily be upgraded in order for NHL hockey to return. While smaller than the Canucks home across town, the Coliseum still has the capacity to seat just over 16,000 hockey fans, which is something the Giants only managed to approach a handful of times last year, with their average capacity being 38.5 per cent. For those of you who think that 16,000 is too small a number, consider that the Winnipeg Jets’ MLS Centre seats a thousand less than that.
A second franchise in Vancouver would come with a ready-made set of fans, consisting of those who feel betrayed by the Canucks’ high ticket prices, those who have been on the waiting list for seemingly ever, or those who are just tired of having a team that has not yet been able to deliver a single championship.
Who knows? Maybe we could even name the new team the Millionaires and see if they could pull off a repeat of 1915 and finally deliver Lord Stanley’s Cup to the city.
Alternatively, we could just be like Toronto who brag about their glory days even though they haven’t won anything since there were more than six teams in the league.