LeBrun Confirms NHL Plans for Expansion

Published October 6, 2023 at 12:35

The prospect of NHL expansion consistently occupies the thoughts of NHL fans, pundits, and other league stakeholders, given that the NHL tends to either relocate or introduce a new franchise every few years. Over the past six years, the NHL welcomed the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken as its latest additions, and both teams have achieved success in their own right.

During the NHL meetings in New York yesterday, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun confirmed that the expansion of the NHL to a 33rd franchise is not a matter of if, but when. With the undeniable success of the Kraken and the Golden Knights, there is a strong appeal for further expansion.

LeBrun stated,
"For me, it's a matter of when, not if. You could certainly sense this sentiment while listening to Gary Bettman and observing the body language of the NHL commissioner during his meeting in New York yesterday morning. It felt like he came close to announcing it outright, but instead, he stated, 'No, we're not ready yet.' However, he did discuss the ongoing interest and discussions with cities such as Atlanta, Houston, Salt Lake, and Quebec City."

One would question the uncertainty surrounding the Arizona Coyotes, including their lack of a city and proper venue. It must be a source of concern for the NHL, as this saga continues to unfold. It's worth noting the curiosity of revisiting Atlanta for a third time, despite previous unsuccessful attempts with the Flames and the Thrashers.

Upon reviewing the four cities mentioned, it becomes evident that Houston and Quebec City are the most viable candidates for a new franchise. Houston boasts one of the largest TV markets in the United States and would foster a natural rivalry with the Dallas Stars, given their proximity within the same state. Additionally, Texas' absence of state income tax holds appeal for NHL players financially and the state holds a warmer climate which can appeal to players.

As for Quebec City, having previously hosted the Quebec Nordiques, it is a market ready for NHL presence. The passionate fan base would undoubtedly return, and season tickets would sell out rapidly, despite the city's classification as one of the smallest markets in the league. The Videotron Centre, a 13-year-old facility currently home to the Quebec Remparts, is already set up for NHL hockey.

Quebec City's situation closely mirrors that of the Seattle franchise, as marketing to attract fans would be virtually unnecessary—making it a turnkey operation.

We will need to wait and see what the NHL and Bettman has in store.
October 6   |   100 answers
LeBrun Confirms NHL Plans for Expansion

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