Why the NHL Needs to Put Expansion Teams in Quebec and Toronto

Is expansion on the horizon once the lockout comes to an end?
Is expansion on the horizon once the lockout comes to an end?Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2012

Expansion is often seen as a way to grow the game.

It can also have a negative impact on the quality of play on the ice.

When new teams are added, the pool of players in the NHL has to grow. That pool of players comes regularly comes from the minor leagues and Europe. Those players are not likely to raise the level of play overall.

But the NHL has not expanded since 2000 when the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets came into the league.

That gave the NHL 30 teams, but the NFL has learned that 32 is a much better number when it comes to equality in the number of teams in each division.

The NFL has two conferences with four divisions each. Each of those divisions has four teams.

The NHL could adopt a similar format with two more expansion teams. It could also go for four eight-team divisions if it wanted.

It would also create 50 new jobs for players on the two new teams.

There's a very good chance that the NHL will announce the addition of two more teams once the lockout comes to an end. Those two expansion teams could play in Quebec City and Toronto.

Adding teams in Canada might go a long way toward repairing commissioner Gary Bettman's reputation north of the border.

Bettman has been the commissioner while the NHL has endured three lockouts and Canadian fans are insulted and angered by his leadership.

Adding two expansion teams won't take away all the pain that has been caused by the lockouts, but it may mitigate it to a degree.

Quebec City has wanted a franchise since the Nordiques left to become the Colorado Avalanche prior to the start of the 1995-96 season. A new arena is being built in Quebec City that could be the future home of such an expansion team.

Toronto has also been cited as a potential expansion city. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been listed by Forbes Magazine as the most valuable NHL team at $1 billion and there is little doubt that the city could support a second NHL team.

Expansion fees would bring new revenues to the league, perhaps as much as $500 million per team, according to player agent Allan Walsh of CBS Sports.

That would go a long way towards helping struggling teams improve their financial status.

Expansion to Quebec City and Toronto would appease angry Canadians, allow for changes in the divisional setup and bring new revenues to the league.

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