Will a Toronto Group Submit an Application for Expansion?

The NHL made it official yesterday that they are starting
the application process for NHL expansion.

From
TSN:

Interested parties will have from July 6
until August 10 to apply.

“We
will then go through a formal vetting process, and the board ultimately will
determine whether or not there’s any interest in expanding,” Bettman said.
“If the conclusion is there is interest from the league’s perspective,
then there will be focus on what the terms would be and who the likely
successful candidates might be.”

The
immediate question is, while there be interest in adding a second Toronto team,
and…

“It
was an impressive response the Las Vegas community showed for a potential
franchise,” Daly said of the ticket drive.

Seattle
and Quebec City are other leading candidates for expansion, and Toronto is
another possibility. Quebecor announced it will apply for an expansion
franchise, with president and CEO Pierre Dion saying it had “all the
ingredients” to bring back the Nordiques.

I guess
we have our answer. Along with the very obvious Las Vegas option, and the much
speculated on Seattle and Quebec City options, there’s Toronto right in the
mix, ahead of Kansas, Milwaukee, and Portland who are all adorably putting in
some effort.

So is it a good idea?

The Conference
Board of Canada
certainly didn’t think the idea of a Toronto expansion team
was a good idea in 2012.

According to the report, factors such as the cost of building a new
rink, franchise fees and the competition in the region — a list that includes
an indoor lacrosse team — would be too onerous a mountain for a second team to
climb. And with the Toronto Maple Leafs already at the top of that mountain:
“getting and keeping a second NHL team in Toronto would be difficult.”

Throw
in the fact that the Canadian dollar is suffering, the potential MLSE backlash
(likely Buffalo and Ottawa will also be against it), not yet having an arena,
and the Leafs doing everything in their power to turn Torontonians off of
hockey, this probably isn’t a great idea.

Could it happen anyway?

Of
course. There have been numerous interested parties who have thought of putting
teams in Vaughn, Markham, another downtown team, or if you want to stretch the definition
of another Toronto area team, Hamilton was famously a very close option. There’s
money here, there’s a belief that a second team can sell out, and thusly help
the NHLs HRR situation. While a Canadian team doesn’t grow the sport in the
same way, Toronto could be the blue chip bet that accompanies a true gamble
like Las Vegas.

What does this mean for Leafs fans?

As one
located on the other side of the country, it doesn’t impact me at all, but I’m
assuming locally there would be a number of fans who would jump ship for an
exciting new product that hasn’t delivered almost 50 years of disappointment.

The biggest
reward will come if the Leafs are ever successful again and you can rub it in
the face of idiots who wanted to go buy a whole bunch of expansion team
merchandise because they thought it looked cool. 

Generally what does expansion mean for the
Leafs?

There
hasn’t been an expansion draft conducted in the salary cap era, so I doubt it
will be similar to what occurred in the
2000
, but it means the Leafs are protecting either 1 goaltender, 5
defencemen, 9 forwards or 2 goaltenders, 3 defencemen, 7 forwards. Depending on
how early in the Leafs rebuild expansion occurs this seems like an excellent
way of clearing out bodies and spreading salary around the league. It is also
another opportunity for the league to revisit if compliance buyouts are worth
putting on the table, and if league draft pick compensation should be required
for certain unprotected players.

Expansion
also dilutes the talent pool of the league which might move the Leafs up the
pecking order a little quicker, especially if the Atlantic Division is heavily
picked over in the expansion draft. There is also the issue of having another
team or two in the league who will be competing for the cup, and making it that
much harder to win, which is bad.

To Summarize…

None of
this is happening tomorrow and it may never happen. What we do know is the NHL,
like most businesses, like money and expansion fees give them a ton of it and
ideally a second team in Toronto gives them even more after the fact. It wouldn’t
be a huge surprise to see the Toronto Toros, Toronto Terriers, or the Toronto
Towers in a few years, though I hope they go the traditional route and name the
team after something in a movie from the preceding summer.