The NHL expansion process is currently going on and we've already have had prospective owners/cities drop out from the running. Kansas City and Houston have dropped out and prospective Seattle owner Victor Coleman has announced that he will not be pursuing an NHL team. Much of it has to do with the outrageous expansion fee of $500 million, which seems to be quite hefty. That leaves potential Las Vegas owner Bill Foley, potential Quebec City owner(s) Quebecor, and potential Seattle (Tukwila) owner Ray Bartoszek as the few players left in the game. So why should Mike Ilitch and the Detroit Red Wings (or the Columbus Blue Jackets) hope for a Seattle franchise to land?
First of all, I've had many ideas for names pertaining to this blog (Yes, this is a spoiler alert). One of them was "How the Red Wings (Or Blue Jackets) could go back to the Western Conference (Much to their chagrin)." This blog has many headlines that depict the purpose of what the blog really is about. It's about the possibility of either the Red Wings or the Blue Jackets going back to the Western Conference. There's even a possibility that both go back. But let's explore why the Red Wings should hope that the Emerald City gets an NHL franchise.
The NHL expansion process isn't guaranteeing that there will be two new franchises in spite of the imbalanced conferences. It may very well be a way of testing the waters for whoever's willing to pony up for an NHL franchise. However, the 14/16 imbalance in the NHL is a matter that must be eventually addressed. If two teams in the Western Conference get added, then it would leave an equilibrium balance of 16 teams a conference with four divisions of four teams a conference. Perfect! We already know that the NHL in Las Vegas is a slam dunk; they have a potential owner in Bill Foley along with an NHL-ready arena that should be done in 2017. But the best part of the NHL in Las Vegas is that the Las Vegas team would be a Western Conference team! It would give the Arizona Coyotes, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Anaheim Ducks a rivalry as well. However, questions do remain about another Sun Belt team in the NHL. Anyways, that leaves us with Quebecor and Ray Bartoszek.
Quebec City lost their NHL franchise in the 1990's to Denver after monetary problems stemming from the Canadian Dollar. Now, hockey fandom is more rampant than ever in Quebec. Like Las Vegas, they have the owner along with an NHL-ready arena that's going to be done in the near-future. However, Ray Bartoszek's bid would already have an NHL-ready arena done in Tukwila by 2016 (It's still undergoing environmental reviews by the city of Tukwila). Now it's unclear if Bartoszek will submit a bid. But there's a possibility that a Seattle-based NHL team would be a cash cow the way that Quebec City would be. After all, they do have some NHL history in the Emerald City; the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to hoist the Stanley Cup. So if he does submit a bid and if he gets the team, then it would balance the conference at 16 teams apiece. But if Quebec City gets the 2nd team...
That would leave the conferences at 15/17, calling for another radical realignment. Now Mike Ilitch and the Red Wings have stated that they want nothing to do with going back to the Western Conference and Columbus doesn't want to go back either. After all, they are teams that play in the Eastern Time Zone. Columbus has a budding rivalry with Pittsburgh and are developing into a dangerous team thanks to the acquisition of Brandon Saad. Detroit is enjoying renewed rivalries with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins and have ached for a switch to the Eastern Conference for years. If Quebec City were to get the 2nd NHL franchise, then that would mean that one of these two teams would have to go back, making them the lone Western Conference team in the Eastern Time Zone. Unfortunately for Ilitch and the Red Wings (And for Columbus), they are reduced to one vote each in the realignment deal. This would mean multiple trips to the West Coast again for one of the two teams (UGH). In fact, there's a possibility of both teams going back to the Western Conference; the NHL could just shift Nashville to the Eastern Conference to form a "Southeast division" if Quebec City got a franchise.
So the Red Wings and the Blue Jackets should pull for Ray Bartoszek to come through for an NHL franchise in Seattle. That way, they can prevent such a mess from ever happening and they can be happy in the Eastern Conference while the league is balanced at 16 teams apiece. Albeit, the mess does have a pretty miniscule chance of happening. But anything can happen in this world, so it's best to hope for the best outcome.