News broke yesterday that the NHL could be expanding by two teams, possibly as early as 2015. Gary Bettman downplayed the news and said the NHL currently has no plans, which is classic Bettman denial and
likely sadly means the reports are probably true.
For the sake of hockey fans, specifically Canadian hockey fans, I hope the reports are wrong.
Canadian hockey fans in Canada are getting ripped off enough as it is.
Last year, according to Forbes magazaine, Canada had six of the top seven most expensive average ticket cost (on the secondary market) in the league. Toronto was first at $368, Chicago ($313) was second followed by Winnipeg ($276), Edmonton ($272), Vancouver ($265), Calgary ($262) and Montreal ($257).
Ottawa fans got a bargain basement price at $137, 15th overall. Here is a quick link to see the prices for all 30 teams. Five of the top-six ticket prices were for NON-playoff teams. Ouch.
To be clear those aren’t the average ticket price. It is hard to get an accurate cost for tickets, because season tickets are lower than single game seats, but on the Oilers site they are currently promoting Power Packs.
The prices of those 17 games average out to:
Exec. Terrace: $155/seat
Gallery/Standing room: $55 seat
I took the average seat cost of three lower bowl sections, then combined the amount of seats in each section, (projection, not 100% exact, but close) 1,734 gold seats, 1,152 silver and 3,148 executive.and cross-referenced it with the exact lower bowl capacity of 6,034 (provided by Northlands) and came up with an average seat cost of $208/seat per game. Season ticket price are cheaper because you buy the entire season, but it is a good indicator of the overall cost.
Any way you slice it, Oiler fans, and fans across the country are paying big money to attend NHL games. And in many cases the fans are helping subsidize the weaker revenue teams in the USA like Florida, Phoenix, Carolina, etc.
The last thing Canadian fans should want is more expansion south of the border. I know Las Vegas sounds sexy, because it is a great place to party, but will fans in Seattle and Las Vegas sell out their rink, or pay top dollar to go to games after year two?
Canadian fans shouldn’t have to foot the bill in hockey markets that don’t work. If the NHL wants a team in Seattle or Las Vegas, then relocate Florida. The Panthers aren’t making money on game nights. The owners make their money by owning the rink and having concerts.
We love hockey, but as a season ticket holder, I don’t need to keep paying a ticket increase when I know a portion of that money is going down south to keep struggling franchises afloat.
From a purely financial reason NHL expansion makes no sense for Canadian hockey fans, unless they league puts the new teams in Canada.
LACK OF TALENT
But even if the scuttlebutt around expansion involved Canadian cities, I’d still be against it. There isn’t enough talent, especially top-end talent, to fill out new rosters.
I, like most of you, have painfully had to sit through the last five season of Oilers hockey. They finished 30th, 30th, 29th, 24th and 28th. They finished this low in the standings for one simple reason; A lack of proven NHL talent.
Here is the list of players who have suited up for the Oilers since the start of the 2009/2010 season:
|Jordan Eberle||275||Andy Sutton||52|
|Taylor Hall||246||Mike Comrie||43|
|Jeff Petry||236||Jesse Joensuu||42|
|Tom Gilbert||208||Steve Staios||40|
|Dustin Penner||144||Ryan O’Marra||31|
|Ryan Whitney||139||Will Acton||30|
|Nick Schultz||128||Philip Larsen||30|
|Corey Potter||111||Cam Barker||25|
|Nail Yakupov||111||Mark Fistric||25|
|Gilbert Brule||106||Mark Fraser||23|
|Eric Belanger||104||Aaron Johnson||19|
|Anton Lander||94||Tyler Pitlick||10|
|Ben Eager||84||Alex Plante||10|
|Kurtis Foster||74||Josh Green||7|
|Colin Fraser||67||Chris Minard||5|
|Luke Gazdic||67||Taylor Fedun||4|
|Linus Omark||66||Brad Hunt||3|
|Liam Reddox||53||Bryan Rodney||1|
Some of those players would be hard-pressed to make an expansion team.
Some players have gone on to succeed on other NHL teams: Cogliano, Brodziak, Gilbert, Horcoff, Hemsky, Visnovsky, Penner, Lupul, Souray, Staios, Fraser, McDonald and Smid, but most of the players who played for the Oilers during that time, and aren’t here anymore, are no longer in the NHL.
Others retired, Strudwick, and a few had their careers ended due to injury, Pisani, Whitney, but the vast majority of those other players simply weren’t good enough to play on an NHL team that wasn’t a bottom-five team.
Expansion will provide 46 more NHL jobs, but most of the players taking those jobs won’t be productive or NHL calibre players. There simply isn’t enough quality talent to fill two more rosters and make those teams competitive in four or five years.
The Oilers have had five top-seven picks and they still haven’t finished better than 24th. You need more than just a few young stars to be competitive.
I’d much rather see some teams like Florida relocate to Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec or Toronto than expand to a 32-team league.
Gary, please say no to expansion. We don’t need it.
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