Honorable mention: Kansas City
- The famous line from Field of Dreams that “if you build it, they will come” didn’t work for Kansas City. Built in 2007, Kansas City believed that their state of the art 17,500 seat arena would help to lure an NHL team. Despite a few teams using Kansas City as a relocation threat, nothing has come to fruition. Despite being a beautiful arena part of Kansas City’s problem is the unknown hockey market which scares off possible suitors, especially when you look at the NHL’s success at entering “new” hockey markets. For now the Sprint Center sits in downtown Kansas City as a reminder that you should make sure you have a horse, before you build the barn.
- 5) Seattle
With a new arena in the works located near both Safeco and Centurylinks Fields, Seattle has become a city that the NHL is closely monitoring. With no competition from an NBA team in the winter, a hockey team would be the sole focus. Also, Seattle is known for some of the most loyal and rowdy fans in the country. Can you imagine that home ice advantage?Logistically, it gives another opponent in the Western Conference, and it’s proximity to Vancouver could create a new and fierce rivalry within the NHL.
I know that NHL expansions in the south have been less then fruitful. More often than not there a disaster. However, the Stars have always been a great draw in Dallas, why not give the lone star state another team. Houston is currently the largest American market without an NHL team, and we all know that Gary Bettman is all about the bottom line. With a large untapped market, a chance for a great in-state rivalry, and a city that has never had NHL hockey, why not give Houston a team? Hey, everything’s bigger in Texas, why not make the NHL one of those things?
Ok, I know what this looks like being a Hartford Whalers fanatic. If you want to see more on why I think the Whalers should come back check out my article here (Bring back the Brass Bonanza!). Despite Hartford’s need for a new arena, Hartford does offer a large TV market and a well established history in the NHL. They already have a loyal fan base and brand as the Whaler brand is still ones of the most valuable merchandising brands in the NHL. It’s a long-shot, but a team in Hartford would be better than some of the other team’s in the south. All I can say that if the Whalers were to ever return, Connecticut will be behind them. Hopefully, we get to hear the Brass Bonanza once again!
2) Oklahoma City
With the success of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a new arena, and a market with little competition all make Oklahoma City another city that could use an NHL team. While Oklahoma City may seem odd, it’s a city that rallies around its local teams. In a city similar in size to Winnipeg, the NHL has focused on small markets that can support a team and OKC could be one of those. Based on the rapid success of the Thunder and the support from the community, the NHL may just take a shot on OKC.
If any team will get an NHL franchise back, it will be Quebec. With a brand new palace of an ice rink scheduled to be built by 2015, an established fan base, and a market that the NHL regrets leaving; Quebec offer the best option for an NHL franchise. They have a rich history with the Nordiques, and the NHL is finally realizing that hockey in Canada is their most popular sport. With Winnipeg’s success, and Canadians begging for more hockey, in my opinion it’s not if but when the NHL returns to Quebec. What city do you think deserves an NHL franchise? Do you agree of disagree and why? Comment below for your opinions.