On behalf of the NHL, I sincerely apologize to Mark Davis. Your Raiders lost this generations version of the space race, except the betterment of man kind wasn’t hanging in the wind. This of course was fueled entirely by money.
Just look at Gary Bettman’s smug expression.
Aside from other historical significance, we aren’t sending monkeys to the moon here. We’re establishing a professional sports team in Las Vegas. A prospect previously deemed nonsensical, until recently.
Hockey could be in Vegas come the 2017-2018 season. Yes, Vegas narrowly edged out Quebec City as the next landing spot for a hockey team. In order to do so, a meeting between the NHL board of governors will take place. Although the rumors state that it’s practically a done deal, the board will need to give the league the unanimous thumbs up for it to move forward. Following that green light, head of the NHL expansion group Bill Foley will need to assemble 500 million dollars. While that truly is an astonishing amount of money particularly for the NHL, it acts as a measuring stick to how committed Foley is to he project.
Not only does the league want to see the money, they also want to know that there is a structure currently in place from which the fans will view the games. Bring in the T-Mobile arena. With a seating capacity of 17,500, it will be more than enough to allow fans to soak in their first major professional sports team. When considering that when at capacity the Oilers (16,839) and Jets (a little over 15,000) all have lower seating totals and are both situated in Canada, the NHL hopes to sell out crowds nightly. 44 luxury boxes will allow even the biggest names in Vegas to enjoy the early portion of the night watching the soon to be named expansion franchise.
However, the concern of overall interest is obviously the biggest Achilles heel. What happens if people simply don’t go? In Vegas there is more than enough to keep people out of the confines of an NHL arena. Situated in the desert, is there truly even a fan interest to begin with? Well, if the league was worried about that they would have taken the easy route of Quebec City. That being said 13,000 Nevadan’s have already signed up for tickets, whether or not they actually show is up is still in the air. With Nevada being where Nevada is, most hockey fans cringe at the idea of yet another franchise dumped in the desert. With all do respect to the Coyotes and Panthers who have significantly changed the tide of the typical lackluster play they have been associated with, they ain’t New York, Minnesota, Boston or Pennsylvania.
It is what it is.
When future phenom and Arizona native, Auston Matthews admitted he grew up watching Coyote games, the NHL without a doubt smiled. When you relocate to nontraditional hockey markets, you hope that one day a player of his caliber is a direct result of a new team. With a greater number of hockey players enrolling in the U.S. National Development Program from areas such as Los Angeles, Texas, St. Louis and now Arizona, the stereotype of “a lotta guys from Minnesota and Boston” doesn’t carry the same weight.
Columbus and Minnesota were introduced to the league prior to the 2000-2001 season. Before them was the Florida Panthers. Outside of Minnesota who unsurprisingly has dug their roots firmly back into the NHL’s soil. Out of the three, Minnesota may pat themselves on the back as the true number one. But Florida found themselves in the Stanley Cup final just three seasons after being awarded as a franchise.
Bill Foley and company are hopeful that a similar success story can be written in Vegas.
Whether you like it or not, NHL caliber players don’t fall from the sky. So every team will reluctantly be forced to lock up certain players protecting them from the expansion draft. So, when Vegas pens itself a name for their new team they will have an abundance of players to pick from. From there they will have to select one player from each team at the bare minimum. When the dust clears, they will need to have in total; three goalies, nine defensemen and finally fourteen forwards. All of which were property of other teams the day prior.
Salary cap? Yeah, they will at the very least need to eclipse the 60% mark of the cap set for the 2016-17 season.
Expansion doesn’t seem so cool anymore does it? Even more so when you factor in that this could be a failed experiment such as Atlanta, Kansas City and the California Golden Seals.
Understandably, a team in Las Vegas seems really cool on the outside and will remain so for the entirety of its existence, as long as it receives viable TLC. People held their breath when Los Angeles, Anaheim and Tampa Bay all received teams. All three of which have received unconditional love from fans, because they have been rewarded with a championship.
One thing remains and that is father time because there is no escaping him. Also, I wouldn’t get emotionally attached to a specific player this season.
Is it October yet?