Monday, March 19, 2007


Does the NHL need Expansion?

By Jes

Terry "My brains are" Frei of the Denver Post, who also writes for ESPN (which gives you an idea of how much he knows about the game), thinks the NHL ought to expand further.


Article Linkage:
Sorry, but I'm about to use a word many consider an obscenity.

Expansion. (Jes: Maybe in Utah, where alcohol is considered a deadly sin)

In the wake of the arena deal in Pittsburgh that comes after years of maneuvering and bluffing, the Penguins seem destined to remain in western Pennsylvania.

Kansas City, with a new downtown arena operated by the Anschutz Entertainment Group about to open, probably won't land the Penguins. Neither will Las Vegas, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, Ore., or Hamilton, Ontario.

Here's what the NHL should do: Award expansion franchises to two of those cities for 2008-09.

All things equal, my choices would be: a) Kansas City, which benefits from having a new arena and no NBA competition; and, b) Portland, which has a deep hockey tradition with the minor-league Buckaroos and major-junior Winter Hawks, and has become disenchanted with the Trail Blazers.
Having a new arena means diddly squat if the fans don't attend. Florida got a nice new area, as did the Predators, but the fans simply don't care enough about hockey to support those two franchises strongly.

Portland is a good junior hockey town, and has always been mentioned as a good NHL destination, but what makes Frei think NHL hockey would necessarily work down there? Does Portland have the corporate base to support an NHL team? If not, it would be Nashville II.

Of course, technically it would dilute the talent pool, but it's funny how the folks who whine about that possibility the most long for the days when the NHL virtually was a Canadian, or at least a North American, closed shop. The internationalization of that talent pool - the same thing has happened in baseball and basketball - has changed that picture. Plus, the expansion of NHL jobs by roughly 6 percent isn't going to make that much of a difference.
Mr. Frei obviously thinks all fans who hate expansion are Canadian blowhards like Cherry that would like to see the league free of those damn Euros.

Umm, no, but I would like a league where a guy like Alex Burrows doesn't have a regular job (Yes, Burrows works his ass off, but his talent level is non-existent at the NHL level. Just watch him try to handle the puck some time). The NHL's talent pool has already been quite diluted, and another two teams means even less stellar players to spread around.

The NHL doesn't get enough credit for this, but for all the carping from its dinosaurs, the league was ahead of the NBA in opening its doors to Europeans, and unforgettable competitions such as the Summit Series between the Soviet Union and Canada set the stage. Swedes and Finns came and then the defecting Eastern Europeans, such as the Stastny brothers and Alex Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov, before the Iron Curtain fell, the Soviet bloc crumbled and nations such as the Baltics and Slovakia were reborn.

1. Since when is 'the Baltics' a nation? Slovakia is a country, yes, but The Baltics? Umm, there are quite a few Baltic nations, such as Lithuania and Latvia, which have very little in common with each other. I guess this is what passes for geography in Colorado.

2. The NBA has only RECENTLY delved heavily into the European pool, whereas the NHL jumped in quite deep in the Early 1990s. Europe has been mined of talent for the NHL, and there isn't exactly a large pool of quality NHLers-in-waiting over in Europe.

Anyway, Frei does a horrible job of trying to connect the NBA to the NHL, without realizing that the NHL has a handful of struggling franchises and doesn't need more. A better solution would be to move some of the worst franchises into stronger markets, rather than dilute the talent pool further and create even more weaker franchises that have to be supported with revenues from the strong Canadian clubs. This would also, perhaps, prevent us with being subjected to poor sports opinions from the likes of Terry Frei.

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No way for an expansion. Look at the league right now, you have a lot of minor-league-guys playing in the big league. For the quality of the game, do not even consider an expansion. Terry Frei is wrong. (and it´s not the first time).

If the NHL expanded, the Czech Extraliga might lose Tomas Vak, and that would be just wrong :)

PS: Please beat Pardubice. A Liberec/CB final is just what the fans want!
Just allowing Frei's argument to be true, why does KC and Portland go to the top of the list? I would hope that if the NHL did have room to expand, they would have Quebec and Hartford on the top of the "organ donor list". Even Winnipeg should be considered before Portland.
Expansion? No! Relocation of Nashville, Florida, or Phoenix or any other team where they give away tickets to half empty venues is more probable, with KC and Seattle being the more obvious choices. If Paul Allan wanted a team in Portland it would be there already!
Hartford is surrounded on all sides by other teams, but that's not to say the market isn't there. I know plenty of people from around here who were cheering for Carolina last year because they used to like the Whalers. I like the idea of adding another Canadian team, though I don't have much knowledge to back that up. Can't see how it would be worse than KC.
And come on, "the Baltics", led by Karlis Skrastins, nearly won the Olympics last year. It was great.
Being from Connecticut originally, I can tell you that the Mall was never close to capacity until the final season of the Whalers'. Certainly some of it has to do with all of the other teams in the area (I have always been a Bruins fan), but most of it had to do with them being "The Forever .500s". That and Hartford really isn't that great of a city. I never had a problem with Shanahan wanting out. Who wants to play all of their home games in a freakin' mall? I did root for them in the playoffs last year but mostly because I love to hear the Brass Bonanaza.
Portland is about to lose its NBA Seattle. The Sonics are on their way to Oklahoma City as soon as the Hornets move back to New Orleans. The NHL doesn't need to expand, but I agree that Portland should be at the top of that list if they did.
The Fedoruk incident proves the theory that the N.E Patriots head and neck specialist has hung his hat on. This was Fedoruks second facial injury of the year. Just like Ben Roethlisberger he has had trauma to his jaw joint. The first may have dislodged the meniscus in his jaw joint, leaving him in a bone on bone condition. This will cause a pinching of the nerves, the sensation of seeing stars, dizziness, headache and concussion are all symptoms. The blow to the jaw may have unhinged his other joint, there are two jaw joints. Like Roethlisberger, the more damage, the more susceptible you become. The neuro docs say that your brain is becoming softer and softer, yet not one has ever had any statistics to prove they know how to prevent a concussion. It is one of the biggest injustices in the world today.
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