Monday was the application deadline for interested parties to submit bids to the NHL for possible expansion. Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec City, Portland, Hamilton, and Houston have been discussed as possible destinations with Vegas, Seattle, and Quebec City leading the way. A $10 million dollar deposit, $2 million of which is nonrefundable, was due today. Only two parties submitted bids.
Welcome Las Vegas to the competition:
And a hearty Jim Knox style g'day mate to Quebec City:
Surprisingly Seattle did not submit a bid, but given their lack of an arena it shouldn't be that much of a shock. Blowing $2 million when you might not even have an arena is a silly gamble. These guys didn't get rich by gambling money on situations with low odds of success. These are the two parties who have their situations in order the most, and now they are the two contenders.
You have to think the league is going to add two teams if they add any, and of course they're going to add teams. They aren't about to turn down around one BILLION dollars in expansion fees. It looks like we could have new teams in Vegas and Quebec in short order if the league decides the time for expansion is now.
Of note is Houston. They didn't submit a bid in this round of expansion discussions, but yet another reference to a Houston group wanting hockey was made. This time by Tom Mayenknecht of TSN Radio.
Group of Canadian & American investors remain committed to bringing NHL to Houston but won't file for expansion papers by Monday deadline.— Tom Mayenknecht (@TheSportMarket) July 20, 2015
This is interesting for a number of reasons, most notably that no one actually in Houston has uttered a word about even having interest. But, every couple of months you see whispers like this from outside of Houston. It does make you wonder what, if anything, is going on behind the scenes.
The league is going to make some serious cash from expansion fees, but they still have several teams in trouble. Relocation destinations might still be necessary in the near future, possibly as soon as 2016 if the Arizona Coyotes situation doesn't find a resolution.
The NY Post recently published a story that was almost immediately blown up by the NHL claiming that the Coyotes were going to move to Las Vegas by the 2016-17 season. They were pretty confident of that story to publish it, but obviously something in what they were told was wrong. Most of the facts seemed plausible, but with Las Vegas moving for expansion the Coyotes will have one less option should they need to move.
NHL strategists will have contingency plans in place if the Coyotes, or any other franchise, become orphans. With rumors of financing still being in place in Houston the door is open for speculation about their viability as a relocation option.
Until then we have to hold ourselves over trying to name a hockey team in Las Vegas because you and I know this is going to happen. Las Vegas and Quebec will likely be joining the league in the next 2-4 years unless NHL owners stop liking money or if they decide to wait to expand and offer another opportunity to bid in the next year or so. If any team needs to move, the league could look vastly different by 2020.