Times have been tough for a lot of the teams in the NHL.
Only three teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, and Montreal Canadians) are really making any money, and according to Forbes 18 teams lost money last season.
Some teams are better than others, but the league contains a couple teams that are causing more of a hassle than what they’re worth.
Take the Phoenix Coyotes for example.
The team has been owned by the league (which is strangely adamant on keeping the team in Phoenix) since 2009, because the franchise declared bankruptcy, lost $20.6 million last season. A deal to sell the team recently went south.
Phoenix isn’t the only team causing a headache for the league, though.
The Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Tampa Bay Lightning are operating on almost as bad terms.
Despite all this bad news, there’s been talk that the league might be in the mood for expanding to 32 teams from the current 30, with the Toronto area and Quebec City being the frontrunners.
The NHL has been quick to dispel any talk of expansion (that’s not surprising), but the rumors continue to grow, especially after a city council in the Toronto area approved the building of a $325 million NHL-sized arena.
I understand why the league would choose Canadian cities (they make the most money), but the league has 18 teams that are losing money. Expansion would be an incredibly dumb thing to do in the league’s current financial state.
The league needs to either redistribute the wealth more evenly between teams or shed the extra weight by eliminating or relocating financially struggling teams.
If the league does go ahead with expansion, and the new Canadian teams do well financially, which they most likely will, it would only further the wealth gap between the wealthiest and poorest teams, increasing the likelihood of an another owners-players disagreement. And no one wants another lockout.
The reason MLB and the NFL have managed to stay the at the top of professional sports, and without any cancellations of regular season games for so long, is because they’ve implemented effective revenue sharing policies that have propped up lower-income teams.
The NHL’s return has been greeted with strong ratings so far, but they will continue to be their own worst enemy if they go ahead with expansion.
The NHL needs to help its teams, not add more.