Buffalo Sabres And NHL Expansion


The NHL Board of Governors has voted to accept applications for expansion into the National Hockey League.  The NHL has not expanded since the Atlanta Thrashers were accepted into the league in the 1999-2000 season.

For those of you looking for a time frame in your memory banks on that – that was the year after the Buffalo Sabres lost the Stanley Cup to the Dallas Stars – yeah that long ago.  How will new expansion affect the Buffalo Sabres?  At first it shouldn’t.

You can read the full press release from NHL.com here.

Over the past several years we have received numerous expressions of interest from potential markets and ownership groups.  –Gary Bettman from NHL.com

Why shouldn’t the Buffalo Sabres worry about the NHL expanding into new markets?  First off – the league is only testing the waters.  They are accepting applications from perspective new owners starting on July 6th, for a short period of just about one month, with the application window closing August 10th.  There is no guarantee that anyone submitting an application will be given a franchise.

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Besides the point that the league hasn’t for sure said they are adding a franchise – the NHL has an unbalanced league as it is.  Certainly they will want to add more teams to the Western Conference before they look East – unless you plan on being an unpopular league by sending East Coast teams out West once again.

Your only viable candidates there with a move are the Detroit Red Wings – a team that long struggled to get the league to get them back East.

The other reason that the NHL could be doing this is to provide relief for the oft struggling Arizona Coyotes.  Certainly the Las Vegas group headed up by Bill Foley will be submitting a bid for an NHL Expansion franchise.  This could be a barometer of how interested he is in obtaining a franchise.  If he is willing to pony up the fees to get a brand new franchise – then he may have plenty of interest in purchasing the Arizona Coyotes with the intent on bringing hockey to Vegas.

What other cities should be in on the conversation?  Seattle would most certainly want to get in on the action, rumors surrounding their new arena plans have been swirling for some time.

Oklahoma City tried hockey, and the NHL could try and return to Kansas City.  There are pro-sports in Kansas City, so you already have a built in fan-base that will embrace a franchise.

Coming back East – the NHL could look at Quebec City one more time – despite the fact that Atlanta tried their hand at hockey twice and couldn’t handle it.

NHL expansion seems to be gaining traction – despite all efforts by the league to cover it up at this point.  Regardless of how it goes – it won’t have an immediate impact on the Buffalo Sabres.

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