8 North American Cities That Could Be Targets for an NHL Franchise

Kevin W. RyanContributor IIIAugust 10, 2012

8 North American Cities That Could Be Targets for an NHL Franchise

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    Pictured are diehard Quebec Nordiques fans that traveled to New Jersey for the Stanley Cup Finals. 

    The Nordiques moved from Quebec City to Colorado in 1995 and as perfectly modeled by the Winnipeg Jets, professional hockey belongs in as many Canadian cities as possible. 

    Here are eight North American cities that could be serious contenders for a future NHL franchise.

Hamilton, Ontario

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    This video is from a Jets-Capitals game earlier in the 2012 NHL season. Sidney Crosby a.k.a. Canada's Golden Boy has never played a game for the Winnipeg Jets, yet this incredible fan base decided to chime in on the everlasting Crosby-Ovechkin debate. 

    Personally, it seems like Crosby and Ovechkin are incomparable due to their unique styles of play.

    Despite the lack of similarities between Sid and Ovi, Winnipeg's fans are so passionate about Canadian ice hockey that they jumped at the chance to taunt the Russian superstar. 

     

    Hamilton 

    Earlier this year the Conference Board of Canada issued a report that highlighted Hamilton, Ontario as one potential Canadian city to land another NHL franchise.

    The focus point in the report stated that Winnipeg boasts one of the most raucous fan bases in the NHL with only about 750,000 in population—about the same as Hamilton.    

Portland, Oregon

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    Both the minor league affiliate Buckaroos and Winterhawks held national single-season and single-game attendance records—clearly proving Portland's potential for a diehard NHL fan base. 

    The only major questions keeping Portland from landing an NHL club lie in corporate sponsorship and the use of Paul Allen's Rose Garden—home of the Portland Trail Blazers.  

Indianapolis, Indiana

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    Pictured is Wayne Gretzky suited up for the WHA's Indianapolis Racers, a club that lasted just five years in Market Square Arena before folding 25 games into the 1978 season. 

    What's pretty hilarious about the Racers' terrible heritage is the fact that they were the first professional team to land Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. 

    There is simply just hope to bring hockey to Indiana, however with the state's most prized possession now free from labor, it's possible that Larry Bird will be asked to help bring the NHL to Indiana.  

Houston, Texas

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    After the controversial move in 1993, the Stars managed to win the Stanley Cup in 1999 while boasting talent like Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Marty Turco. 

    Despite the success at the turn of the century, it seems as if Texas has evolved into one of the worst places for ice hockey (given the recent attendance): 

    Year Avg Attendance NHL Rank
    11-12        14, 226      28 
    10-11        15, 073      23
    09-10        17, 215      17
    08-09        17,680      14
    07-08        18,038      12
    06-07        17,914      12
    05-06        17,828      13

    Following the Stars glory days, the recent attendance has dropped quicker than Enron's Ride of Broken Dreams.  

    If the NHL added another franchise to Texas, the sport would have a much better chance of catching on in the state dominated by football. 

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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    Meet the Oklahoma City Thunder, the National Basketball Association's Western Conference Champion. 

    In the four years of existence in Oklahoma, the Thunder have transformed into one of the biggest fan-favorite teams in the league.  

    Of course, a team as stacked as OKC (Durant, Westbrook, Harden) can easily create a fan base, however from the looks of it—it's everlasting. 

    If an NHL franchise moves to Oklahoma City, the arena and marketing channel are already in place.

Quebec City, QC, Canada

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    The Nordiques played in the NHL from 1972 to 1995 before moving to Colorado. 

    During their 23 years in Quebec, the Nordiques managed to make it to just two Conference Finals—both of which they lost. 

    Despite the lack of playoff success, the Nordiques fans are still looking to land an NHL team for their new, $400 million arena. 

    The arena will begin construction next month and is set to be completed by 2015. 

Seattle, Washington

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    Seattle is the most underrated sports city in America. From the aftermath of the Sonics' move to the MLS expansion with the Sounders, the evidence is clear: Seattle natives love professional sports

    In the 2011 NFL playoffs, Seattle's Marshawn Lynch broke out for an incredible run that was so exciting, local geologists confirmed that Seahawks fans literally caused an earthquake.  

    It's been rumored that The Great One himself is trying to bring the NHL to Seattle in a proposed arena deal that could house both an NHL and NBA franchise.

    If there was one city in America that deserves professional sports, it's Seattle.  

America's Playground

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    Could you imagine the NHL's biggest bros hitting the Las Vegas Strip midseason? With the overly-critical abundance of social media, moving the NHL to Vegas might be a horrible idea. 

    The world famous Las Vegas Strip attracts tourists from all over the world—a place where NHL fans could enjoy top-level talent before tackling the casinos, strip clubs and/or wedding chapels.