NHL Expands: Las Vegas In, Quebec City Out

The NHL announced their decision today on expansion. Las Vegas is in and Quebec City is out, for at least now. The city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada will have their first professional sports franchise. The puck will drop at T-Mobile Arena in October 2017. For Quebec City today is a tough day. But all is not lost hockey fans of Quebec City, you must keep the faith. The next big question is: What are the next steps for Las Vegas and Quebec City?

Las Vegas – Time is of the Essence

It was hard to find a big reason why Las Vegas should not have become part of the NHL. The reasons in favor of a franchise were plentiful. T-Mobile Arena, the Las Vegas market, the full season ticket deposits already sold and the TV ratings are all major reasons why the NHL is coming to Sin City. But most importantly, what Las Vegas has going for it is their new owner Bill Foley, a deep-pocketed, smart and dedicated man whose mission is to make the NHL a huge success in Las Vegas for both the short and long term.

But now there is so much to do regarding the Las Vegas franchise in terms of hockey operations. Step one is for Foley to hire a general manager. Being a GM in the NHL is not an easy job. But imagine being a GM of a franchise and having to build it from the ground up in terms of hockey operations on day one.

Hiring the right person to steer the Las Vegas franchise is a critical decision. But it does not stop there. In addition to the GM position, Las Vegas has to hire an entire front office as well as an scouting staff. Finding the right people for all these positions is an absolute must and will not be easy.

Remember this coming season the Las Vegas franchise will have to scout the NHL, AHL and maybe some players in Europe for next year’s expansion draft. In addition the Las Vegas franchise also has to prepare for the 2017 NHL amateur draft. Last but not least the new GM and his staff will have to formulate a plan for next year’s expansion draft as well. What did Willy Wonka say? “So much time, and so little to do! Strike that, reverse it.”

Quebec City – Waiting Game

It’s easy to feel terrible for all the hockey fans in Quebec City and throughout Canada. At the end of the day what caused their application to be denied was the Canadian dollar and the uncertainty of other NHL markets.

There is good news and bad news for the people of Quebec City. The good news is Quebec City will get an NHL franchise in the near future. The bad news is the timing is unknown and the factors that will determine this are out of Quebec City’s control.

While the NHL said no to Quebec City in terms of expansion this time around does not mean they are not number one on the league’s list in terms of relocation. Quebec City has a strong ownership group in place in Quebecor and a state of the art arena in Centre Videotron. Also keep in mind the NHL has already vetted Quebec City through this expansion process. So the NHL could move very quickly in the future in terms of adding Quebec City to the league.

Getting back to the waiting game that Quebec City must now go through, there are a number of obstacles. The biggest and most frustrating part of this waiting period for Quebec City is there is no set date or clock in terms of when and if an NHL franchise will return to this great Canadian city.

In addition, before the NHL says yes to Quebec City they must understand all the pieces on the chess board. So, what happens in regards to the Carolina Hurricanes in terms of their ownership and market issues? Will the Coyotes have a permanent home in Arizona when their situation in Glendale ends in two years? What are the prospects of Seattle becoming part of the league? Is there any other major issues regarding other franchises that the league is facing that we don’t know about? Until all of these situations are fully understood the NHL cannot move a team to Quebec City.

It’s easy to say to the people of Quebec City to be patient. They want their Nordiques back. The NHL will come to Quebec City, the question is when.

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