5 Other Cities For NHL Expansion

The Famous 1907 Kenora Thistles

The Famous 1907 Kenora Thistles

The NHL expansion deadline has come and passed. Perhaps disappointingly only 2 bids made the deadline; Las Vegas and Quebec City later. Of those 2 only Quebec City was described as capable of having an NHL team immediately.

Whilst we know that money, arenas and political wrangling all plays a role in securing an NHL team we were inspired by Proctor, Minnesota councillor Travis White who also wanted to bring the NHL to Northern Minnesota to come up with our list of places the NHL should be expanding too.

Kenora, Ontario

The city of Kenora has a very rich hockey history. For a city of around 15,000 people there are surprisingly many of them who have made it to the NHL. Mike Richards from modern times and member of the infamous 1972 Team Canada squad Gary Bergman are amoung them as well as Hall of Famer Si Griffis.

Kenora’s hockey heritage is also a rich one. The city is noted as being the smallest city in North America to win a major championship. Its 1907 Kenora Thistles beat the Montreal Wanderers for the Stanley Cup with a team that included Si Griffis and a certain Art Ross.

There are contemporary reasons for Kenora too. The Greater Toronto Area has failed to materialise its bid for an NHL franchise and its location between Toronto and Winnipeg provides Kenora with 2 geographically rivals.

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Hockey is a way of life in this area of the USA. Annual pond hockey tournaments are now a national event. People travel long distances to Minneapolis to see the Wild play in the NHL and the University of North Dakota based in Grand Forks has an average attendance of 11,600 that is more than the Florida Panthers.

Hartford, Connecticut

The Infamous H/W logo.

The Infamous H/W logo.

The NHL has a reputation of returning to areas that has previously hosted a team. Denver had the Rockies then the Avalanche, Ottawa has had the Senators twice, Winnipeg has had the Jets, Atlanta had the Flames then the Thrashers, San Francisco Bay area had the Seals and now has the Sharks and the twin cities lost the North Stars but gained the Wild.

There are a couple of cities missing of that list. Quebec City is best placed of the actual expansion applicants, Atlanta has had its chance twice and does anyone even remember the Scouts in Kansas City. That only leaves Cleveland and Ohio gained the Columbus Blue Jackets and Hartford. The Whalers may not be remembered for their playing ability except for having Gordie Howe but their logo still survives today. Also if the Quebecois are having a second team then don’t the New Englanders just to keep the balance.

Salt Lake City, Utah

In 2002 Salt Lake hosted the Winter Olympics and ice hockey is the best winter sport. Simply for this reason it should be NHL expansion site.

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Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha and hockey does go together and not just because of the second Slapshot movie. Of the top 10 NCAA ranked universities for ice hockey only 3 are from areas that do not have a NHL team. North Dakota we have already addressed and Miami Ohio is only a few hours from Columbus. That leaves Nebraska Omaha University and Omaha is also in a perfect area for the NHL. Nestled between Minneapolis, Denver and St Louis it fills a gap on the map.

 

There we have it. 5 cities that when you take out the money and the arena issues are ideal for the NHL to expand too. The real expansion does have a number of hurdles to go through but if the NHL was disappointed that only 2 bids were entered then it needs to look outside the money and at the real world of hockey.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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