Expansion- Point, Counterpoints

Ever since I have been on this site, I have noticed how everyone hates expansion teams, and how everyone wants the league to make conditions so teams will have to fold. I agree with that, but after heavy thinking, I have come up reasons as to why 30 teams is a good thing.

Now the reason for having less teams is quite obvious. There would be more talent on each team, which is a very good thing. The game itself would be more interesting to watch, right? I mean since the previous lockout, the NHL has seen a significant drop in scoring.

I tend to think that that is not so much the lack of team talent, but rather rules. There has been a lot more obstruction, there is no more tag up offsides, and goalie equiptment has gotten bigger. So, unless these these are implemented, and the traps have been defeated, and scoring is still not up, I do not think that the talent level is the reason for less scoring.

However, think about what else expansion does. The NHL is a distant fourth in sports in the US. Gary Bettman in my opinion is trying to reach out the the markets in the south to get more fans from the US. And they very might well have with the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup. But with the lockout, the NHL has lost a lot of support.

I also like the fact how new pro sports teams bring jobs. The world needs a lot more. Unemployment is a hige issue right now, and having more teams employs more people.

Another thing that expansion does is if the NHL were to have only 9 rounds with lets say 24 teams, a lot of players would not be around. Flyers fans, Kim Johnnson would not have been drafted by the Rangers, and traded for Mr Concussion. Bruno St. Jacques wouldn’t have been either, which if I recall was a part of the Sami Kappenen deal. Karlis Skrastins of the Avs wouldn’t be around. Ales Pisa who has one of the hardest shots, and an excellent powerplay QB.

I as you might have known am a Rangers fan. The minors are becoming over populated. In two years, the Rangers will have in the minors Dan Blackburn, Hendrik Lundqvist, Alvaro Montoya, and Jason LaBarbra all as #1 AHL goalies. The minors is a place for youngsters to get ice time. Kinda hard with 4 goalies.

My last thought goes to those of you in a city that you think can support an NHL team. How would you like another expansion to 32 teams, like the NFL, and have Quebec City back, or the Winnepeg Jets, or a team from Hamilton, or Seattle, or the California Seals, Golden Seals, Seals, whatever they were, or want to be. Or this thought is really out there, but how about cutting the games played in half, and have a Finnish team, Swedish, Czech, or one in Moscow, Russia?

Your comment please.


26 Responses to Expansion- Point, Counterpoints

  1. hockeyhead says:

    one big problem that i think is GOING to happen is that a lot of european players are going to stay over seas and forget about the nhl thus bringing the talent pool down even more.

    nhl fans are in trouble. find some other hockey to satisfy your needs.

  2. cgolding says:

    for starters….

    there is NO such thing as “overpopulation” in the minors. if you are good enough to play for your parent club, you are playing for them. if you are good enough that someone else wants you, they will make an offer to your parent club for you…

    players that were drafted in late rounds, but ended up being good enough to make the NHL would be signed as undrafted free-agents either right after the draft, or when it became apparent that they were good enough to play in the NHL….

    do you really think a guy like Kim Johnsson who plays big minutes for his national team and is a potential Norris Candidate if he ever puts it all together for an entire season wouldn’t be in the NHL? it’s called scouting… they find these guys… one name for you, Martin St. Louis.

    as for expansion.

    expansion is a good thing for the league, especially a league that has constantly growing population of people playing the sport. the problem is that the NHL expanded too quickly and screwed all these expansion teams. it takes about a generation for a team to really root itself into an area. with success over that time period fans can grow attached to the team and everything else.

    the problem is that they kept introducing new teams so these expansion teams were constantly getting cut down at the knees for the top-end talent that was coming into the league. if no one else was competing for high draft picks, the lesser teams would have been able to draft players that many picks better every year and help build their systems.

    instead many of these expansion teams have been trapped with weak depth in their system and have only managed a couple of short spurts into quality play. some of that is poor management, but some of that is the reality of how difficult it is to build up an organization when you are constantly introducing worse organizations… so you end up having top heavy teams with consistent revenue streams leeching players away through their establish farm systems and so forth…

    2-3 teams per 10 years is about the most the NHL could have absorbed easily… and if that had been the case we may not be looking at this idiotic salary cap offer from the league which is specifically created to make the playing field compettive for the weakest organization… rather than the median franchise.

    if the league can start playing, and we wait around 25 years… a lot of these viable towns will have strong hockey communities around them. philly played little to no hockey prior to the flyers coming here, and now it is a hotbead of roller hockey, and ice hockey rinks are going up left and right.

    just takes time.

    bettman was greedy for franchise buy-ins and he hurt the league by giving in to that.

  3. simplyhabby says:

    Simply put, the pie is just not big enough to fiscally support all 30 teams in the long term.

    If you are good enough to play in the NHL, you will play there. Using the excuse that the minor league is over populated and this should justify the expansion of the NHL is very much flawed. The league already has a lot of watered down talent. It does not need to get any worse.

    You use the Sami Kappenen model to support the theory of postive expansion. Kappanen is a great player and just like everyone else in the NHL, he had to prove himself worthy to play at that level. It may have just taken a little longer for him to make it.

    The league did not think about sustainable growth. The NHL is using the league as a whole to support the lockout because the league as a whole lost so much money. So tell me, why didn’t Gary use the league as a whole when he allowed expansion? Minnesota, Hartford, Quebec, Winnipeg and Edmonton were all having problems financially. Yes some of them moved and a team like the Avs benefited but Carolina is probably worse off now then in Hartford. Edmonton is becoming the Expos of the league by farming the some of best young talent just to trade them off when they can’t afford them for a new crop of young talent. Basic economics dictate to expand your business, you must have sustainable growth. Sorry Gary, the bubble has burst and now because you and your owners can’t run a business correctly, you let salaries get out of hand, paying a lot of nobodies on your 4th line and are not fiscally responsible.

    Damn the politics of sport suck!

  4. 19Yzerman says:

    If the league would reduce the size of goalie pads and equipment it would help. If the goalies are that good they will over come and adapt. Don’t forget Terry Sawchuck had hardly any pads and he had 103 shutouts with no mask.

    How about taking teams in less than successful markets and putting them in cities that once had an NHL team. The Minnesota fans have embraced the return of an NHL team to its market in an admirable fashion.

    NHL Europe? I guess it will interesting to see if having some NHLers over there this season stimulates those markets. If the NHL uprooted the Sabres and sent them to Hamilton I am sure those fans would be so outraged that if deprived of an NHL team long enough they might embrace it as the Wild fans have.

  5. ranger_fan says:

    As a goalie, I need to take a stand here, instead of writting a paper ;). I have all top model equiptment, that cost me thousands. If goalie equiptment got any small, goalies could not play two consecutive games, unless it was Brodeur who sees 10 shots a game. If you want to restrict goalie equiptment to lke it was in the 50s, you have to make the forwards to the same. No more of those shoulder pads, and elbow guards that cause all of those injuries. Instead 50 pound wooden sticks.

    If that is your reason for scoring being down, you need to do some research on a thing called the “trap.” Scoring is down, but so is shooting. If you compare goalie stats from the 50s to today, you shall see, with the exception of Brodeur, they are very comparble, in SAV%.

  6. ranger_fan says:

    So, back to the Rangers. Montoya, Blackburn, Lundqvist, Dunham, Valiquette, LaBarbra, they should all be on the Rangers. Dunham is a great backup, but Montoya, Blackburn, and Lundqvist could all be 30 game winners. They just can’t be on the Rangers to acheive that.

  7. ranger_fan says:

    Time is not something Bettman has/had. He should be banned from the game.

    Back to the Rangers overpopulation on goalies. You don’t think that there is a problem. The minors are used to get these kids time. It is kind of hard to do that, with 4 competing for the #1 in Harford! Should Sather trade these unproven prospects for less than they are worth…HELL NO!

  8. ranger_fan says:

    YEAH! World Hockey Association that has had teams folding!

  9. simplyhabby says:

    Sounds to me that the Rangers have an abundance of young goalies. How about a trade to boost your talent upfront. Maybe a draft pick plus a goalie for a d-man?

  10. ranger_fan says:

    Yes they do. Thats why many Ranger fans on this site were pissed at Slats for drafting Montoya

  11. simplyhabby says:

    Why should they be pissed? Realistically, he was the best talent available at the time the Ranger’s drafted and in my belief, he is the best prospect of the bunch that will be your starter in 2-3 years barring further lockout interuptions. He just might be your next Richter but of course time will tell with that.

  12. cgolding says:

    then complain that your idiot GM has drafted that many goalie prospects… doesn’t mean the minors are over-populated. more than one team would kill to have a couple of those guys in their system. not to mention some of those guys are probably worth more than they actually will be, cuz someone going to bust.

    you trade to improve organizational depth, making the best deal for you. maybe a specific player is worth “more” than what you can get for them. however, if that makes you better then you would be with the player it is a good deal.

    it’s called leverage. the rangers got so many goalie prospects that they can’t really say they are worth a ton, simple supply/demand. NHL team demands 2 goalies. if you have 4, you are in reality removing value from those goalies because you can’t say, “i really need this guy.” cuz they don’t. similar to when a team can’t pay a guy, they never get equal value…

    ~chris

  13. cgolding says:

    injuries from skater’s pads is a completely different issue. they need to go back to the softer boards and crack down on shots to the head, which are far too prevelent in the game right now.

    okay. taking padding away from areas that extend beyond the leg is not going to increase injures to goalies. what they are talking about is taking inches off the side, which is not going to open goalies up to any more injuries than they are currently getting. as long as the actual leg itself is protected the same, which it will be.

    the padding itself is better than it was in the 50’s, which is why there are less injuries, not because goalies have more width to their pads… that doesn’t protect the goalie from injury at all, it just takes up more net.

    sticks are sticks. Macinnis uses a wood stick and he brings it. hard shots are about technique and natural ability more than the stick.

    one easy thing they should do is take away restrictions on stick curve. that rule was specifically put in place to protect goalies because the pucks were doing wicked crap off some of those sticks. padding across the spectrum is better for goalies now(yes, even with shorter pads it would be) so this wouldn’t be a problem.

    systems and the way the game is officiated is 90% of the reason scoring is down, but shorter pads would give guys that much more net to look at. i also endorse the idea of widening the net by a puck width on either side and up. won’t effect play much at all, and that much more net for guys to shoot at.

    ~chris

  14. 19Yzerman says:

    Isn’t league minimum salary like $350,000 they can afford new equipment. Sure teams defenses are tougher than ever and so are some of the systems currently employed in the league like the TRAP you mentioned of or the LEFT WING LOCK. Current goalies look like some kind of Godzilla monster in the net and simply by standing there they obstruct the view a major portion of the net opening. So the way I see it is if a forward can skate through a trap or around a leftwing lock and get to the net then he should only have to over come the skill of the opposing goalie not the equipment size. Also it would be very hard if not impossible to enforce rules that restrict the use of traps or locks. You could make the point that if a 2 line pass was allowed from inside ones own blueline that it would open up the amount of forward rushes but they would still be approaching those giant pad clusters which exceed what is needed to maintain personal safety.

    I was reflecting on low scoring not SAV%’s. Yes I have been to some exciting high tempo scoreless tie OT games that both teams had more that 40 shots in. The thing is that although you and I can appreciate something like that some people need to see something more like a 6-5 score to feel that what they saw was entertaining.

  15. hockeyhead says:

    ranger_fan…how can you say goalies would not be able to play two consecutive games? that is unreal.

    how many games did pete peeters play in a row? how bout grant fuhr? mike liut? pelle lindberg? all goalies with small equipment that were work horses. 3.00 and an .87-.89 save % were great and so was hockey back then.

    and for the 1,000,000,000 time..the trap has ruined hockey and it is because there are so many bad players in the league. and for the 1,000,000,000, time…..eliminate those teams.

  16. cgolding says:

    the argument that the talent level in the NHL is higher than ever before has significant merit. the scoring in the game going down has nothing to do with the level of the players in the game.

    if you force teams to skate through the neutral zone to play defense, rather than grabbing a guy, interfering, etc… scoring will go up. the reason the trap has been so effective is because teams have been allowed to slow players through the neutral zone “illegaly.” if you are flying through the neutral zone and make good passes you are going to get through the trap… offensive players haven’t been permitted to generate that speed.

    PLUS if you aren’t making good passes then the counter-attack kills you, which is how the devils got their first cup. what has happened is that no one is open cuz, or getting open, cuz they are skating through mud… so the dmen have no option but to plug it up the wall and it starts over again.

    force the refs to make the calls the way the game is meant to be called and you will see more goals.

    ~chris

  17. hockeyhead says:

    why have refs gone into a shell now after decades of calling penalties?

    i think the trap started with the florida panthers and look at that team that made the finals. aside from the beezer they were 3rd liners at best.

    i think there are a ton of great hockey players but i also think there are a lot of bums. ducks, devils and wild just put you to sleep. wes walz (once bruins prospect) is a top player on the wild and he is all defense. my point is if you want to see low scoring hockey watch field hockey (which i do all the time) but ice hockey should not be a defensive game as dumb as that may sound. people want 50 goal scores.

  18. heartofleafs says:

    Bettman was not the only one greedy for buy-ins, I would argue that all of the owners were as well. They all voted to have teams join the league during expansion. Everyone knew at the time that they expanded to teams not with the greatest potential for fan base, but rather the teams that were willing to pay the ridiculous entry fee. All of the governers decided to worry about fan support later and just worry about getting the money. I wonder now however, if the NHL would be losing as much money if they did expand to different cities. Cost certainty would probably not be as big of an issue.

    It is not just Bettmann that was greedy but rather all of the teams, because each and every one voted on bringing these expansion teams into the league.

  19. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    When Bettman breaks the union, the Rangers will be in excellent shape to compete under the new CBA. They have a host of young talent despit being one of the worst teams in the last 10 years at developing talent. It is no wonder the Flyers, AVs, Red Wings and Devils are excellent every year – it is supoerir drafting, scounting and development.

    As for goalies – they don’t grow on trees in case anyone missed that. They take into their mid-20’s to even get started in the NHL. Drafting a number of goalies is good idea because if the Rangers are lucky – ONE will pan out. If that happens – they are set. Signing goalies to big dollar free agent deals is no guarantee of success. Just look at Cujo (his numbers specifically) having made HUGE money on top teams and taking them NOWHERE. Gigeure did it once, got paid and then went bust.

    As for contraction – it is a pipe dream. It will NOT happen. The league will not allow it to happen and why should it? Harold Baldwin is out there waiting to to buy a team right now. A friend of mine is looking to buy a team as well so that he can build them a building (which is his main business). There are likely others. when you can pick a team up for $30,000,000 to $50,000,000 and the better franchsies like the Flyers are worth $300,000,000 you can see the potential return. Bruce McNall bought the Kings (in the 2nd largest market in the US) for $16,000,000 from Jerry Buss. They have to be worth $150,000,000 considering how profitable the Stapes Center is (also McNall’s idea).

    The game needs to be improved so that more people watch it on TV. Plain and simple. Cutting the teams is like firing your sales staff and cutting your ad budget when you hit a rough spot in the economy. If you were EVER to spend more it would be then. If the league ever was to stick with the teams they have it would be now. They need to fix their product offering and their profit margin.

  20. cgolding says:

    compare the weakest players today vs the weakest players in the 90’s, 80’s, and 70’s. i’m pretty convinced they have more pure talent today than they did then.

    NJ started the trap craze with their run to the cup.

    there were some good players on that florida team, but more importantly they played well as a team. team hockey wins, it’s been proven ever since.

    even if this league was made up of teams of gretzky’s they would still play a team defensive game because good coaching has proven effective. you can’t go out there and have no one playing solid defense like in the 80’s… just not gonna happen. there will be 50 goal scorers if the refs get control of the game, but you will not see any 200 point seasons.

  21. cgolding says:

    they haven’t negotiated in good faith yet… until he does that, they can’t legally break the union. NHL’s stance, whether you agree with it or not, has been take it or leave it. that will never pass the necessary legal process to allow them to kill the union.

  22. 19Yzerman says:

    I Agree with your point regarding the weakest players today vs the weakest players in the 90’s, 80’s, and 70’s. Because of conditioning, training and coaching. Also the ambition of youth to pursue a hockey career which may have peaked along with player salaries. However what if you took each decade and then compared the top skill level to the lowest skill level within each era? Which era do you think would have the largest degree of differential from top to bottom?

    Boy its getting technical trying to establish whether or not the league could use to be more concentrated. Or in this case whether or not it is diluted

  23. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    In time my man. The league will reach out but they need time so they can say they “tried”

    It is going to be interesting to see who comes back to the league when the union is broken. Some will stay in Europe but not as many as you might think. By not agreeing to a cap – the players are damaging the game in a way where there simply will not be as much money around. They are GUARANTEED to make less from now on.

    Today is the day players missed their first paychecks.

    Let’s see how they are doing 3 months from now. How many player’s wives are going to spend less because no income is coming in? How many players wives are going to get SICK of having their goofball husbands home all day long (interupting thier Oprah) – think JR’s wife. My dad calls it the X factor. I suggest is more the “soon to be x-wife-factor”

    jerry

  24. nordiques100 says:

    it really is only 1 as blackburn is still recovering from injury, montoya will finish college and lundqvist will likely stay over in europe for at least another year or two. that leaves labarbera and if he cant unseat dunham or weekes who are on 1 year deals over the next year or two then he really isnt an nhl calibre goalie and would be a likely candidate to leave the organization.

  25. nordiques100 says:

    back in the 70s and even the 80s to some extent, we would see the top players play very long shifts. shifts usually were around 2 minutes at a time which means players had to pace themselves in order to maintain a high level of play and not get tired out so quickly. as a result, the players back then would not go full steam, all out, tazmanian devil style. that is what players do now as they are only playing on average 30 seconds per shift. the shorter shifts resulted in players being able to go full blast and thus were able to take time and space away much more easily. and with the players faster, stronger and bigger nowadays, it is almost impossible to have any room to do anything out there on the ice. and compounding that is the clutching and grabbing.

    so instead of playing long shifts and having a bench of 9 forwards and 4 defencemen being used exclusively, all 20 guys per team get time and almost half the 60 minutes has the 3rd and 4th liners on the ice as many of them average 10-15 minutes per game while the 3rd defence pair usually gets about 15-20 minutes per game.

    we need teh stars to play more cause they are the ones not doing the clutching and grabbing. notice in games where teams shorten their bench how much better the game is? the stars are in so much better shape now that a return to the long shifts would see them on the ice more often looking for scoring chances and less time for clutching and grabbing. this is why we never see as much the winger flying down the side with a sudden burst of speed and throwing a huge shot on net like mike bossy use to do cause everyone is going full speed and thus most teams usually have 4-5 guys back already taking away the rush chance.

    this is probably why teams were scoring so much back then, the star players never left the ice. now teams make players maximize every shift by forcing them to play at 150 percent per shift and never breaking stride going 100 miles an hour.

    now coaches are praised for being able to use all 20 players and maximizing their abilities when the fact is that hurts the game. i would welcome rules to reduce the number of players teams can dress from 18 skaters to 15 skaters. there are just too many players who dont or cant do anything with the puck but instead dump it in, take the body, clutch and grab and play defence first always and just get under the skin of the top players. this is why you only need to score 10 goals to get a 2 million dollar contract cause you do the unskilled things so well.

    and with goalies looking so huge now and the strategy of collapsing in front of hte net and forcing shots to come from the outside with almost no chance of going in this is why scoring is so down.

  26. cgolding says:

    it’s quite possible we would see less scoring in the league if you took teams away. not only would offensive talent condense, but weaker coaching would be taken away and top talent defensive players would condense… it may get worse really…

    the influx of european players has increased talent pool a ton.

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