NHL Hockey in Las Vegas?

NHL Looks to Expand League in Nevada


Alex Restauri, Staff Writer

Hockey in the desert, what can possibly go wrong?

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that Las Vegas will have a Pro team for the 2017-2018 season. The NHL has been looking for another expansion for a couple of years now. Cities that were interested in having an NHL team included Las Vagas, Nevada; Quebec City, Quebec; Seattle, Washington; Hamilton, Ontario; and Kansas City, Missouri. When it came down to the very end of it, Las Vegas and Quebec City had the best cases for NHL teams.

Quebec City had an NHL team when the NHL and WHA merged. The team lasted through out the 70’s and 80’s, but in 1995, player salaries got too expensive for the little city to keep up with. The team moved to Denver, Colorado, where the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup the year after they departed from Canada.

So yes, the people of Quebec definitely want a team. Quebec has been asking for team since 2007 and the people of Quebec have been petitioning for a team for years. In the summer of 2016, the decision was made to pass on a Quebec City team.

The main problem is the city still can not keep up with the high cost of player salaries and keep with the expenses of maintaining an arena with an average of 40 home games. The only event the arena has scheduled until November is a pre-season hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadians. Quebec is definitely more of a hockey market and would be a bigger fan base, but if a city cannot financially support a team, they cannot have one without a solid plan.

Now comes the question: can Las Vegas support an NHL team? Financially, they make enough money off of tourism and they have decently stable economy. They have a beautiful home arena called the T-Mobile Center, and they are also in the process in building a state of the art practice arena in the suburbs of Las Vegas. But can they hold up a professional team with their current fan base? Las Vegas has never held a Pro team before; they had success with the University of Nevada basketball team in the early 90’s, but when the success diminished, so did the crowd and the student section. So will this happen to hockey, too?

To make sure the team is successful as soon as they start, the NHL has issued an expansion draft. This current NHL teams can only protect 12 of their players (who are not on their entry level contract or have a no trade clause on their contract). Las Vegas can choose any player that is not protected by their team and will automatically have the 3rd pick in the 2017 entry level draft.

Is this scary if you are a Penguins fan? ABSOLUTELY! The Penguins would have to protect the entire HBK line, 5/6 of the defense core, BOTH Stanley Cup Champion goalies, Marc Andre Fleury and Matt Murray. Not to mention all the rookies who were called up from the AHL for the playoffs. Pittsburgh will lose someone that we would like to keep.

Las Vegas, as of September 16, has not decided on a name but they do have some considerations. Possible names include the Golden Knights, Silver Knights, and the Desert Knights, either way, they’re nickname will be the Knights.