In an article published Wednesday on the Yahoo blog Puck Daddy, Greg Wyshynski talked about how the National Hockey League may be looking to expand to 32 teams. The basis of this was a vote that took place on Tuesday night by the Markham, Ontario city council that rejected a measure to block the building of a 20,000-seat arena with the intention of bringing a team to the Southern Ontario market.
On the surface, this seems like a smart idea. If the league is going to realign to 4 divisions a la the Smythe, Norris, Adams, and Patrick, then it would make sense to bring in two more franchises to make the number of teams in each division even across the board. If the NHL brings in two extra teams, then there is a larger pie for owners and players to share. Plus, there are two more cities that will see a boost in jobs and revenue in and around the arena. Sounds great, right? Well, not so much.
Before the National Hockey League considers expansion, wouldn’t you think it should take care of its own business first? By “own business,” I’m referring to the Phoenix Coyotes situation. In fact, the Phoenix situation is in such dire straits that if potential owner Greg Jamison cannot come up with the required capital to purchase the team by January 31st, then his investment team will be shut out from purchasing the team (Editor's note: Looks like Jamison won't make it). This would turn the situation back to square one and open up any investor who wishes to purchase the franchise. The Coyotes may even end up moving to Seattle. Before the National Hockey League thinks about expansion, it would behoove them to take care of this situation first.
The NHL's first priority should be ensuring that each of the 30 NHL teams/cities are on solid financial ground before they set their sights on adding teams/cities to the mix. The current problems aren't just going to fix themselves. The idea of expanding and welcoming in a new fan base is a fun, enjoyable experience. The idea of fixing what's currently broken requires getting your hands dirty and putting other projects – easier, more enjoyable projects – on hold.
The Glendale situation is a troubling one because it’s a textbook example of what happens when greed takes over for common sense. Expanding, or even moving a team, to a market with a “if you build it, we will come” mindset can and will have dire consequences. Hopefully, this will not be the case when it comes to the next city the NHL occupies.