Arena NHL Expansion (and Deflation)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Arena' started by Zaz, May 24, 2009.

  1. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    "The Grizzlies were initially composed of players taken from other teams via an expansion draft, together with the team's first draft pick, center Bryant Reeves. However, they were hampered by the NBA's decision to deny the Raptors and Grizzlies a shot at one of the top five picks in the draft."

    You're right; I misread it.
  2. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    In 1976-7 the movement of franchises restarts. The California franchise moves to Cleveland, after 9 years in Oakland and renamed the Barons, and the Kansas City franchise moves to Colorado under the Rockies name.

    Both these cities looked like likely prospects, but neither franchise exists today.
  3. ApolloSmileGirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2004
    star 8
    Um, Dallas is about as South as you'll go in the US, and the Dallas Stars sell out every homegame.

    Just saying.

    The problem isn't lack of interest by potential fans, a lot of it has to do with the random unknown channel Vs. that tends to air it in most areas.

    They have tons of rinks in Dallas, and we do have the Stars. It's by no means the hugest market for Hockey, but that's due more to lack of exposure.
  4. Boba_Fett_2001 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2000
    star 8
    Obviously there are exceptions but teams like Tampa, Phoenix, Florida, and Atlanta continue to struggle.
  5. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Washington is an example. It's hot as hell, but hockey has survived 32 years there without the team ever being very good. That's a hockey city, I guess.

    In 1978-9 season the troubled Cleveland franchise merges with the Minnesota franchise.

    The first game in Cleveland they only drew 8,000 people, and things went downhill from there.

    From Wiki: "The Barons remain the last franchise in the four major North American sports leagues to cease operations, and as a result the NHL fielded only 17 teams during the 1978?79 season. The NHL would not return to Ohio for 22 years, when the Columbus Blue Jackets began operations in the fall of 2000."

    Total franchises: 17
  6. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    In 1979-80, the World Hockey Association folds, and the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers and Winnipeg Jets join the NHL.

    Quebec is a hockey-mad province; Alberta is a hockey-mad province with loads of oil money (they are not known as the blue-eyed sheiks for nothing) and Winnipeg is capital of a hockey-mad province (Manitoba). The only American franchise, Hartford, was included because it was in the snowbelt, and was the site of many wealthy insurance companies. But Hartford's population is only 120,000--it was the smallest city in the league, which would caused trouble later.

    Only one former WHA franchise, the Edmonton Oilers, survives today. All three of the others were moved, with the old Jets franchise on the brink of oblivion in Phoenix, the old Nordiques doing poorly in Colorado, and the old Whalers moldering in North Carolina.

    Total franchises: 21
  7. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    In 1980-1 the Atlanta franchise is moved to Calgary, Alberta. It never won a play-off series in Atlanta. It's had more success in Calgary, where it still resides: it won one Cup and made the finals recently.

    (Alberta has a total population of 3.5 million, yet still supports two NHL teams, though the recession may make a difference)

    Total NHL franchises: 21
  8. MagicSpork Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2004
    star 2
    Great thread, Zaz. It's like a mystery novel I can't put down. I think I know how it ends, though...

    The Tampa Bay Lightning really dressed up like a woman and was killing those hotel guests the whole time! Right??

    No, no...wait...The Anaheim Ducks find out that the San Jose Sharks is really his father!!

    Ohh, OK. It seems so simple now...The Dallas Stars have dissociative identity disorder. The Nashville Predators aren't another person...the Stars are the Predators. DUH!
  9. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    "Denver and Seattle were to have been awarded franchises in an aborted 1976 NHL expansion. Denver was considered a good market for hockey, [it had plenty of junior hockey interest] and after the NHL expansion was canceled, the World Hockey Association entered the market briefly with the Denver Spurs, but the franchise was moved after only a few months due to fan disinterest, which was compounded by ongoing rumors that an NHL team was planning to relocate there.

    The long troubled California Golden Seals were reported on several occasions to have been considering a move to Denver before deciding on Cleveland, where they became the Barons. Ultimately, it was the Kansas City Scouts that moved to Denver for the 1976?77 NHL season, after selling only 2,000 season tickets for the following season and finding themselves nearly $1 million in debt.

    Unfortunately, the situation did not improve significantly. They made the playoffs only once, in the 1977?78 NHL season. Even then, they finished with the fourth-worst record in the league, 21 games under .500. They went down rather meekly in the playoffs, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in a two-game sweep.

    The Rockies did have some outstanding players for a short time. Barry Beck set a record in his rookie year for goals by a rookie defenceman, and Lanny McDonald was traded to the Rockies by Toronto. But the team always had a lack of depth and traded such quality for quantity."

    Under Don Cherry

    "One of the few bright spots in the franchise's history was during the 1979?80 NHL season when flamboyant Don Cherry served as head coach, a former Jack Adams Award winner who had been recently fired by the Boston Bruins. Under Cherry, the Rockies adopted the motto "Come to the fights and watch a Rockies game break out!" This could be seen on billboards all over Denver in the 1979?80 season and rejuvenated the ailing club.

    However, as he later admitted, his outspokenness and feuding with Rockies general manager Ray Miron did not endear Cherry to management. While Cherry did much to motivate the players, goaltending was still the team's weakness as Miron refused to replace Hardy Astrom, whom Cherry dubbed the "The Swedish Sieve". Cherry recalled one game where his players had got ten shots on goal without scoring, but Astrom then conceded a goal from the opponent's first shot and so was yanked from net.

    "We couldn't win at home and we were losing on the road," Cherry later said. "My failure as a coach came when I couldn't fine any other place to play." The Rockies finished with 51 points, and it was apparent that management would scapegoat Cherry for not making the playoffs. In their final game, which was held at home, Cherry's team defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5?0. As it was already known that Cherry would not be back next season, he wore a cowboy hat and cowboy boots for what would be his last NHL game, and after the final buzzer sounded his players formed two lines for him, with sticks raised to form an arch to walk between while he acknowledged the cheers of the crowd."

    Move to New Jersey

    "Although attendance in Denver was not bad, the team's financial situation was very unstable. Ownership changed hands twice in four years. Finally, in 1982, New Jersey shipping tycoon John McMullen bought the team. He announced that he had "big plans" for the franchise, but they involved playing in the then-new Brendan Byrne Arena in the New Jersey Meadowlands. The Rockies had actually petitioned to move to New Jersey in 1978, but the NHL vetoed the move because the Byrne Arena was still under construction, and there was no suitable temporary facility in New Jersey at the time. The team was relocated for the 1982?83 NHL season and renamed the New Jersey Devils"

    The Devils, employing the trap and the best goalie in the league, have won several Cups, but we still don't know if they are actually hockey town, and given the monumental bad karma of this franchise, you have to wonder. I mean, they have their parade in the stadium *parking lot.* That is so damn pathetic. New Jersey isn't a city,
  10. SLR Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 20, 2002
    star 5
    Hockey is insanely popular in the State of New Jersey. The problem for the Devils (prior to the mid 90's when they began winning Stanley Cups) is that they have had a hard time finding their market and fan support because the State of New Jersey consists of two giant suburbs (one is a suburb of Philly and the other a suburb of New York) and the competition from the Flyers and Rangers for fans. South Jersey is a suburb of Philadelphia and most of the South Jersey hockey fan population are staunch Flyer fans and would never cheer for the Devils (a North Jersey team) because people in South Jersey despise North Jersey). Most North Jersey fans were longtime Ranger fans before the Devils were moved to North Jersey. Up until the mid 90's, the Devils had difficulty peeling away some of the support in North Jersey from the Rangers. It wasn't until they began to win Stanley Cups in 1995 that the Devils succeeded in doing this. It remains to be seen if these in roads will remain or if the Devils begin to decline with an aging Brodeur and if the Rangers continue to improve if this support will remain.
  11. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    I've often wondered how the team got to New Jersey given the number of teams who probably wouldn't have wanted the competition.
  12. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    In the 1991-2 season another new franchise is added, the San Jose Sharks. This is the type of maneuvering that goes on:

    "The Oakland Coliseum was home to the California Golden Seals of the NHL from 1967-1976. Gordon and George Gund, who ended up moving that team to Cleveland and eventually merging it with the Minnesota North Stars, had long wanted to bring hockey back to the Bay Area and asked the NHL for permission to move the North Stars there in the late 1980s, but the league vetoed them. Meanwhile, a group led by former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin was pushing the NHL to bring a team to San Jose, where a new arena was being built. Eventually the league struck a compromise: the Gunds would sell their share of the North Stars to Baldwin's group, with the Gunds receiving an expansion team in the Bay Area to begin play in the 1991?92 season and being allowed to take a certain number of players from the North Stars to their new club.[1] In return, the North Stars would be allowed to participate as an equal partner in an expansion draft with the new Bay Area team.

    On May 5, 1990, the Gunds officially sold their share of the North Stars to Baldwin and were awarded a new team for the Bay Area, based in San Jose. Over 5,000 potential names were submitted by mail for the new team. While the first-place finisher was "Blades," the Gunds were concerned about the name's potentially negative association with weapons, and went with the runner-up, "Sharks."[2] The name was said to have been inspired by the large number of sharks living in the Pacific Ocean. Seven different varieties live there, and one area of water near the Bay Area is known as the "red triangle" because of its shark population. The team's first marketing head, Matt Levine, said of the new name, "Sharks are relentless, determined, swift, agile, bright and fearless. We plan to build an organization that has all those qualities."

    It appears that the Sharks will stick, but I see no reason whatsoever for Anaheim. But we'll get there.

    Total franchises: 22
  13. darthdrago Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    Being a San Jose fan (though admittedly not quite a diehard), I think I can say that the Sharks are safe for the time being. The Bay Area isn't what I'd call a hockey-mad metro area the way New York or Boston or Chicago or Montreal all are. The fairer weather just doesn't lend to a culture where hockey is revered like it is in the snow belt & Canada.

    Californians tend to short-circuit whenever there's a sudden rainstorm on the highways, so anything resembling snow & ice is still pretty alien to us. We have lots of skiers & skaters, but they have to drive well out of their way to engage in these activities (eastward to mountain areas like Lake Tahoe in NorCal or Big Bear in SoCal). So that kind of recreation is common of people who generally have more money to spend on that kind of effort. I've never skied, never ice skated, and I've only seen real snow twice in my entire life. (One of those times was in Seattle; the other time was when it snowed on my house for about 3 minutes in 1998 and melted immediately). So we don't have a situation where a working-class kid could ice skate to school and thus grow up with winter sports in his soul. When I hear about the annual outdoor NHL hockey game, I get this weird feeling that's probably like what a person in Edmonton feels at the thought of playing a baseball game in January.

    But here's the catch: the Sharks sell out every home game. Been sold out for years, and I believe it's been this way going back to at least the late `90s. Each time I go to a game (I went to 3 games this season), seems like there's about 85 to 90% diehards in the seats. So while there aren't a lot of diehard hockey fans in the wider Bay Area as a whole, it almost as if there are just enough diehards to fill the Shark Tank for every home game. It's probably the exact same fans attending each game, but it doesn't matter. There are still people in the seats, so the team's making the money.

    I'd also like to point out one thing that's probably helped in getting the expansion westward: cable TV coverage. I first got ESPN in 1986, I watched my first hockey games on it. For about two seasons in the late `80s, I was addicted to it--I never saw anything like it before and was blown away. So I think as more people got ESPN in the late `80s to early `90s, it earned a lot of viewers in folks who were transplants from traditional hockey towns. So nationwide coverage of hockey probably helped in earning some local support for new franchises.

    But I'll own up to this: California sports fans can be notoriously fickle. If the Sharks won the Cup, it might help earn more support for the short-term, but probably not that much in the long term. Darth-Lando might have a different opinion on this...
  14. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    If they sell out in the bad times, then they deserve the franchise. But California has so many decent sports franchises...the Bay area and LA should obviously have teams; Anaheim is superfluous.
  15. Darth-Lando Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2002
    star 6
    The Sharks were formed at pretty much the perfect time for the Bay Area. Lots of money was being generated by the computer/software/internet industry that is everywhere in the South Bay. The .com bubble was just starting and a ton of people in the area were getting rich (for the time being :p). So with a new hockey team there were more people willing to invest in going to games. It was the new hip thing to do. Plus, they are San Jose's first and only major pro sports team. People who may not even be into hockey at first, become fans just because they are from San Jose. Many people forget that SJ has the 10th highest population in the US with just under a million people. That's a lot of automatic fans.
    In their 17 seasons in the NHL they have only missed the playoffs 5 times. This success has made it easier to be a fan for sure. Although obviously, that sucess is relative as recent years have felt like failues. But that's a whole different topic...
    Yes, there are a lot of hardcore fans that are there at every game. I know three people with season tickets and even more that buy 10-game packs, so plenty of people go to game after game every season. Since I got a "real" job and have been able to afford it I've been going to close to 20 games a season myself. It's a very loyal and wide fanbase. And it certainly doesn't hurt that the closest NHL team is over 300 miles away. Not much competition from other teams.
  16. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    The Sharks' problems seem to be choking in the play-offs; but if they experience a lengthy period of really bad results, would they survive? That's the test, especially now. The NHL lost four teams in the Great Depression.

    Next: One of the most notoriously stupid expansions ever. Yes, folks, I'm talking about Ottawa and Tampa Bay in 1990.

    "Ottawa had been home to the original Senators, a founding NHL franchise (1883) and eleven-time Stanley Cup champions. After the NHL expanded to the United States in the late 1920s, the original Senators were not able to make enough money in Ottawa to offset the increased costs. The club started selling players for cash to survive, but eventually the losses forced the franchise to move to St. Louis in 1934."

    A franchise was supposed to go to Canada this time, but it was supposed to go to Hamilton (which is an industrial city outside Toronto). But the NHL simply does not want another Canadian city that nobody in the States has heard of.

    From a blog: "Quick quiz. What do these teams all have in common? The L.A. Kings, Colorado Rockies, Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louise Blues, Quebec Nordiques, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes. Answer: they are all past and current franchises that at one time or another were rumoured to be relocating to Hamilton.

    So yes, Hamilton has been down this road more than a few times. We're not entirely unique in playing the pro sports team lottery; many growing cities in North America clamour without success for a franchise in one of the big four leagues (NHL, NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball.) In the U.S. these include fast-growing places like Las Vegas, Albuquerque, N.M., and Norfolk, Va. (The Norfolk area has been dubbed the largest media market in North America without a pro sports team -- Gary Bettman, are you hearing this? Nice and warm there, probably very few hockey fans. It's a no brainer!)"

    A no-brainer, indeed. There were two Florida groups competing for a franchise, too.

    So what happens? The NHL awards franchises to Ottawa and Tampa Bay, the less viable of the two Florida bids. Why, you ask? The simple answer is: money.

    Don't get me wrong: Ottawa has won the Cup 11 times in the distant past, and it's the fourth biggest city in Canada (1.4 million in the regional district). It wasn't a bad choice, except for the fact that the price was an inflated $50 Million. Ottawa was chosen on the fact that it was willing to pay this price without demur. (The Hamilton bid wanted back-end--ie. future--financing.) The same thing with Tampa Bay; the financing was shaky from day one, but they were willing to pay the inflated price up front).

    The result is that both these franchises have had chronic money troubles. And Florida is a poor choice for a team: the weather is VERY warm, and it's football country. Tampa Bay won one Cup, but it is a good contender for a move. Ottawa's money troubles are connected to getting a stadium built. It seems to have stabilized financially, due to the fact that it gets plenty of TV coverage in Ontario, and has built a bitter rivalry with the Leafs. (The Sens fans HATE the Leafs with a mortal passion, and are certain that the CBC favours them in their TV coverage, which of course it does).

    Ottawa is still viable: but it sank once, in 1934, so the recession does not help. Nor does the fact that it is now rebuilding.

  17. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    In the 1993-4 season The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Florida Panthers are added.

    This marked a departure, as these two franchises were selected not because of location, an interest in hockey, or anything reasonable. They were selected because of their *owners*. The Ducks were owned by Disney, and the Panthers by H. Wayne Huizenga, of Blockbuster fame. Lots of NHL hype about how the two owners would help popularize hockey in the USA.

    And of course, neither of them own the franchises today.

    "Huizenga operated the Panthers as a public holding company, buying numerous real estate properties in the name of his Panthers Holding Group. In 2001, Huizenga sold the Panthers to pharmaceutical juggernaut and friend Alan Cohen and his partner, former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, for a discount price. However, Huizenga maintained his status as owner of the BankAtlantic Center, from which he still collects all arena revenue. In all three team ownerships, he is very well known for minimizing costs while maximizing profits."

    And: "Just because there's no NHL season doesn't mean any of the league's owners aren't wheeling and dealing on the sidelines.

    The Walt Disney Company sold the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to Orange Country entrepreneur and billionaire Dr. Henry Samueli and his wife, Susan, on Friday.

    It's been rumoured that Disney had been looking for a buyer ever since the Ducks made the Stanley Cup final in 2003." [sale was in 2005]

    So much for choosing franchises this way. Florida is located in Fort Lauderdale, and is notoriously ill-managed. Anaheim is better, and has won a Cup, but is on a downward slide.

    Total franchises: 26
  18. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Next is one of the most despicable episodes in NHL history; the moving the Minnesota North Star franchise. The franchise was extremely popular and was generally well-supported by the state and city.

    "As is well explained in a 1993 Sports Illustrated article,[9] owner Norman Green was much reviled in Minnesota following the decision (due to poor attendance during a string of losing seasons and the failure to reach stadium deals in Minneapolis or Saint Paul) to move the franchise away from the U.S. state which has one of the deepest grassroots hockey traditions. The Sports Illustrated article included a quote from North Stars booster club president Julie Hammond: "When [Norm Green] came here, he said, 'Only an idiot could lose money on hockey in Minnesota.' Well, I guess he proved that point."

    It was moved by the owner to Dallas, without the NHL even trying to stop him. The franchise is now known as the Dallas Stars.

  19. MagicSpork Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2004
    star 2
    Seriously, this is the most I've ever been interested in hockey since the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals when I was rooting for the Rangers to lose to the Canucks. (The Rockets were playing the Knicks in the NBA finals that same year). It's amazing how much backstabbing, deceipt, lying and dishonesty there is in pro sports management/ownership. Keep it coming. If I get some free time, I might do a similar thread for the NBA. I could write a 50 page dissertation on Donald Sterling alone!

    As an aside, I still love the Canucks logo from 1994...don't ask me why, but it just looks cool...

    [image=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/logos/nhl/vancouver_canucks_1995.gif]
  20. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    I would LOVE to read such a thread...seriously. Please start it.
  21. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Next: Another extremely dubious event: In 1995-6 season the Quebec franchise is transferred to Colorado, renamed the Avalanche.

    Les Nordiques had quite a bit of success, and formed a blazing rivalry with Montreal. But there were some problems: some players did not want sign there nor be traded there because they were expected to learn & speak French (why this was a problem, I couldn't say). Spoiled brat Eric Lindros refused to go to Quebec when drafted there, which didn't help. And the market was fairly small (about 700,000). But the NHL could have helped and didn't. Now note: currently Bettman claims Phoenix is 'fixable' though it is $300 million in debt, never had a profitable year, and that the NHL has a 'covenant' with its fans to save it. This is flaming codswallop. The covenant with the fans never bothered the NHL in the case of the North Stars, les Nordiques, and, as we shall see, the Winnipeg Jets. He is a giant, egregious hypocrite.

    Anyway, Marcel Aubut, the owner, moved the team to Denver. Because Quebec was loaded with talent from the Lindros trade, the Colorado Avalanche (stupid name) were successful from day one, and are only now failing. But they are no longer a good team, and the fans are no longer supporting them. Why Colorado, when it had already failed once? And why not keep the team in Quebec?
  22. SLR Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 20, 2002
    star 5
    Are you kidding me? Eric Lindros refusing to play for them was one of the best things that ever happened to them. The Nordiques/Avs completely fleeced the Flyers in that trade. They got Peter Forsberg in that trade, who was a key component and leader for their two Stanley Cup championships. A trade of Lindros for Forsberg straight up would have been a great deal, as Forbserg had a much better career. But the Avs also got Mike Ricci, Chris Simon, Ron Hextall and Steve Duchesne. They also got two draft picks, one of which was used for Jocelyn Thibault. Ricci, Simon and Thibault made solid contributions to their championship teams as well.

    This was a horrible trade for the Flyers. I really wish the arbitrator had ruled in favor of the Rangers instead. Lindros was a crybaby that never lived up to his potential. He was always hurt and always complaining. He had talent, but he had no heart and was a whiny mama's boy. My distaste for this guy came early in his career with the Flyers, around 1994 or so. I truly believe if the Flyers never had made this trade they would have won 1 or 2 Stanley Cups with Peter Forsberg as their captain.
  23. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    But it was extremely bad publicity for Les Nordiques, and focused attention on stuff that probably contributed to the move. Though I agree Lindros was a whinger and never lived up to his potential. And the trade was an excellent one for the Nordiques.
  24. Shrapnel Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2005
    star 2
    The people from Québec City did not expect their players to speak French. If they could say Bonjour and Merci was enough, since the fans were crazy about their team. Joe Sakic was a god over there even if he never learned it. Some idiots like Walt Podubny, John Odrodnick, ot Greg Millen made complaints, but most English speaking players enjoyed their stay.

    The team was really bad between 1988 and 1993, but the Colisée was 95% full every time. That's a hockey town!
    Bettman DO sucks!
  25. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    I think it was the francophone press that made it an issue. Also the team wanted them to speak French for promotion purposes (fair enough).