Lord Stanley Plays Favorites

Who wants to cheer for a team that’s never won a national championship?  It’s intuitive that the more successful a team is, the more fans want to cheer for them.  However, this proves to be somewhat of an issue when a league starts out with six teams, who continue to dominate the league even when more teams join.  This is the issue that the NHL faces: it started out with the Original Six, and gained success with them.  They established strong fan bases early on, and they drew loyalty.  With the addition of new teams in nontraditional markets (specifically markets in the South), the NHL is diluted.  I’m not talking about the quality of play, I’m referring to the brand on the league itself.  I honestly cannot imagine that people in Florida or Arizona are die-hard hockey fans; if they are, they are few and far between.

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It’s clear to see that there are some teams that have never appeared in the Stanley Cup championship series.  The fact that there are newer teams doesn’t really affect this data – the responsibility rests solely on the talent of the players.  Even so, the newer teams don’t seem to be winning the championship.  The Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Wild, Predators, Sharks, and Jets have never even gotten to the Cup final playoffs.  And, not surprisingly, the six teams with the largest number of appearances are the Original Six.

So, my argument is that before even thinking about expanding the league, the NHL needs to reconsider the current situation.  There are teams that aren’t playing well enough to keep up with the league, and they aren’t supported by fans.  This situation isn’t going to change, so how is it going to be beneficial to add another team- in Vegas of all places? My suggestion is to relocate one of the teams in a nontraditional market, such as the Coyotes or the Predators, to a more traditional market, like somewhere in Canada or the Pacific Northwest.

-Charlie Elwart

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