OT: Seattle NHL franchise announcement imminent?

Submitted by gwkrlghl on February 23rd, 2014 at 12:01 AM

Seattle has been long rumored to be the #1 expansion candidate for the NHL and now people are starting to indicate they may actually be close to an announcement. Per the Seattle Times (link):

Sources have indicated that talks between the NHL and local officials were far enough along that some type of announcement could be made within weeks of the Sochi Olympics concluding. Daly told reporters in Sochi this week that no expansion announcement was imminent.

But it’s unlikely the league would delay an announcement beyond June if it intends to have new teams in 2015-16. Expansion teams typically need a couple of summers to do proper marketing and prepare temporary arena facilities.

Some mixed reports there but rumblings certainly are indicating Seattle will have a team sooner or later. This article even goes so far as to suggest that another team would likely be added concurrently to even up the league (since there's 14 in the West vs 16 in the East). KC and Quebec City were floated FWIW.



February 23rd, 2014 at 12:21 AM ^

I feel like I saw somewhere though that not all populations are equal here. Like California and Florida have huge populations but low percentages that watch the NHL regularly. QC has a lower population but it was like 80-90% watch the NHL regularly or follow the NHL. You probably get a lot more bang for your buck in Canadian cities


February 23rd, 2014 at 12:45 AM ^

Well yeah, of course. I'm just pointing out that sometimes we forget how small Canada is. In that light, 5 CA/FL teams vs. 7 in Canada isn't so shocking. Plus, Canada really has more like 8 when you factor in the fractional following that Detroit/Buffalo get in southern Ontario. Looking at demographics, by far the best location for expansion is somewhere around Hamilton, but I suspect that Toronto/Buffalo/Detroit are likely to continue to strongly oppose that.


February 23rd, 2014 at 9:59 AM ^

Makes it more difficult for a team to be as profitable in the US.  Owners see the ability to make more money with a successful team even in the southern US than in Canada.


Screw expansion; they need to contract the league.  Florida and Phoenix seem to be the two most obvious choices.  The means 13 in the West, 15 in the East.  Moving Detroit back seems to make sense, but no way in hell the NHL does this after just this past offseason changing things around.


Though I'd rather do option a) than option b)

a) contract Phoenix & Florida, move Detroit to West

b) add two new teams in the west, further diluting the talent in the league.


Adding more 4th line muckers and grinders to the NHL is akin to adding more .235, 8 HR, 57 RBI guys with average to below average glove abilities to MLB.


February 23rd, 2014 at 12:17 PM ^

Your assertion about profitability is completely wrong.  Did you know that 61% of profit made in the league is by the 7 Canadian teams (23% of the league)?  Half of the American teams lose money, including every single team in the south except for Los Angeles, San Jose, and Dallas (the latter two being very close to zero.)  Forbes publishes all these data - you may want to take a look.



February 23rd, 2014 at 4:38 PM ^

I've read the Forbes list you referenced.  The problem is that it's the beginning of the story and my argument while simply the end of yours'.


Did you know that Canada's tax rates/laws are different than America's?  Did you know that some Canadian teams see their profits taxed at exhorbinantly higher rates than teams in America?  Did you know that the Forbes listing is hardly the authority on the profitability of NHL teams? 


There are Canadian teams who make more profit than do the American teams.  But how much of that will they lose in taxes?  How are they treated by Canadian tax rates, systems, laws, exemptions, etc?  How much better is it for an American team?  How much easier is it for an American based NHL team to ease its tax burden and in some cases get relief?  


Additionally, with Canada's personal income tax structures being the way they are, (it's arguable they vary even more widely than in the US), some are hesitant to put a team in a location with the highest income tax rates, since they'd have to pay more in salary to make "take home pay" competitive with other organizations.  Given the salary cap now in the NHL and the simple fact that it ignores cost of living calculations, there's another potential blow.  Losing out on free agents and struggling to resign young talent threatens everything from ticket sales/pricing to advertising revenue, to lost income from home games lost by consistently failing to make latter rounds in the playoffs.


Look deeper than what's on the surface.  Sometimes you'll marvel at what you can find.  You may want to take a look.


February 23rd, 2014 at 6:27 PM ^

I had a longer response to this but lost it, so here's the simple version:

You're confusing corporate taxes and personal income taxes.  The latter are definitely higher in the US, though for a high salaried earner like an NHL player even that gap is narrowing quickly.  Canadian corporate tax rates are much lower than the US, though US corporations do benefit from many breaks as you suggested -- though this only brings the effective rates to similar levels as Canadian corporate taxes (there are many studies on the subject; some put Canadian effective rates a little lower, some put them a little higher).



February 23rd, 2014 at 6:40 PM ^

Though for the tax rate to be especially relevant, the US teams would actually need to show a profit.  Which eludes 50% of them.  Revenues are dramatically higher, on average, for the Canadian teams.  So are TV revenues.  So are ticket revenues.  Show me a single revenue or income metric where the US teams do better than the average Canadian team.  Or even a single metric where the average US team does better than Winnipeg, which is the least profitable Canadian team. 

Sac Fly

February 23rd, 2014 at 11:43 AM ^

Have a multi-purpose venue like the UC is different than having a basketball arena and putting a rink in. The floor is too small.

The Coyotes had a similar situation when they played at America West Arena. The scoreboard hung over the blueline and they had an entire section behind the net of unusable seats.


February 23rd, 2014 at 12:12 AM ^

I have always wondered why Milwaukee couldn't support an NHL team. They basically support MLB, NBA, NFL, and a college team while having to compete with similar teams in Chicago and the Twin Cities. Hockey is so big in Wisconisn, you would think it would work. Then again, the North Stars left town, so what do I know.


February 23rd, 2014 at 12:59 AM ^

Let's address this one by one. For many years the Packers split their games between Green Bay and Milwaukee. Madison is only 2-3 hours away and is generally considered the state's school since there is not another large University other than Marquette. My point about the North Stars leaving the Twin Cities, was that if Minnesota couldn't even keep its original team, I guess maybe Wisoconsin would fair no better. I actually am a Geography major, so yes, I have looked at plenty of maps in my life time. Next.


February 23rd, 2014 at 2:54 AM ^

I can't remember researching anything official on this, but I believe that any existing franchise within 90 miles of a proposed expansion franchise more or less has veto power. Milwaukee is about 90 miles from Chicago, and the Blackhawks have a decent following along Lake Michigan up into Wisconsin that a Milwaukee franchise would cut into. Hamilton is less than 90 miles from both Buffalo and Toronto, which is why that idea has ran into so much issues (even though studies have shown the Toronto metro area could support something like 2.5 NHL teams). Seattle is about 140 miles from Vancouver, so it wouldn't represent as much of a threat.


February 23rd, 2014 at 12:27 AM ^

I dont see why the Nordiques couldn't as well. The metro in QC is only 700k but cities like Winnipeg, Ottawa, Calgary, Buffalo, and Edmonton are barely bigger and support franchises just fine (in fact Winnipeg is smaller)


February 23rd, 2014 at 12:29 AM ^

Betteman hates the Red Wings and Canada.  If he could fold the Canadian teams and get away with it, he would.

You could support 2 teams in the Toronto footprint, 2 teams in Quebec as well.  But lets keep dumping teams in places that put hockey 16th behind paint drying watching.


February 23rd, 2014 at 12:33 AM ^

In a CBC interview of recent note, Bill Daly also made it a point to mention that the Pacific Northwest was a "good hockey market", and he compliment the Vancouver Canucks for having expanded the hockey market in the region. Presumably, the trip by Seattle officials is one of those "best practices" studies where they will see what the Canucks have done and try to build on that, but I could wrong. In any case, I think it would be interesting and even potentially profitable in that neck of the woods if marketed properly. 


February 23rd, 2014 at 2:47 AM ^

Unless the Bucks are coming too, there will be no NHL hockey in Seattle. The proposed arena can only be built if there is an NBA team. Without it, there is no NHL approved arena in Seattle.


February 23rd, 2014 at 10:13 AM ^

If anything, the league needs to contract. The talent there is just too diluted right now. Eliminate Florida, Phoenix, Nashville, and New Jersey...or eliminate 2 and move two of the remaining teams to seattle and QC