First off with the NHL having 32 franchises with the addition of the Seattle Kraken the NHL is not ready to expand beyond that 32 franchise mark, but with that relocation is always on the market. There are many cities around North America that support a team, most of which may never see live NHL hockey. We will dive into three Canadian cities and three American cities. Let’s get into it.
Quebec City, Quebec
Starting off with the clear-cut favourite for an NHL franchise in Canada, Quebec City former home of the Nordiques now the Colorado Avalanche. Quebec City was home to an NHL team from 1979-1995. Although the ownership was not losing money at the time they feared they would due to the market size and the government of Quebec not being willing to help bail them out.
Flash forward 27 years and Quebec City is itching for another chance. With a population of roughly 532,000 people which ranks eleventh amongst Canadian and the support of fans all across North America, it makes too much sense to turn down. These factors make Quebec City the number one city in Canada in terms of relocation for an NHL franchise.
Potential names: Nordiques, Rebels, Caribous, Voyageurs
Another Candian city to consider would be Hamilton Ontario. Hamilton is located between Toronto and Buffalo, on the southwest tip of Lake Ontario. Home of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs and Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Hamilton ranks tenth in front of Quebec City in population among Canadian cities with roughly 537,000 people, these numbers do not include sounding cities such as Burlington, Guelph, and Kitchener. Maybe not as appealing as Quebec City, but Hamilton has not had an NHL franchise since 1925 (Hamilton Tigers) and times were different back then. Give Hamilton a shot now and they have the potential to be a mainstay in the NHL.
Potential names: Tigers, Shield, Steelhawks, Ironmen
Regina Saskatchewan is an interesting option. Saskatoon Saskatchewan would be another option but we will focus more on the capital Regina. Regina is home to the Canadian Football team the Saskatchewan Roughriders. “Riders nation” is arguably one of the most intense fanbases in the CFL wearing watermelons on their heads similar to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and their cheese. The Roughriders average just over 32,000 fans per home game. Although their population is an issue with roughly 215,00 people, while Saskatoon sits at roughly 246,000, the two major cities are approximately a three-hour drive apart making trips between hard to justify regularly for hockey games, but the city of Moose Jaw, home of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors is just under one hour drive away from Regina. Saskatchewan is a long shot for a franchise but the idea is there and a fan base should not be hard to garner in Saskatchewan.
Potential names: Broncos, Mounties, Pioneers, Farmers
Portland is a better place for an NHL franchise than a lot of current NHL franchises already. Currently, only home to one franchise within the four major sports, the city of Portland is due for another major sports franchise. The NBA’s Portland Trailblazer has an average attendance of 19,000 fans a game while sharing a stadium with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Add in the factor Portland is under three hours south of Seattle this adds an intriguing rivalry for what could be the NHL’s youngest two franchises.
Potential names: Mountaineers, Lumberjacks, Pocket Gophers
Salt Lake City, Utah
Home of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Salt Lake City is similar to Portland in the fact that they also only have one team from the four major sports, but they do not have a WHL team instead they have an ECHL team the Utah Grizzlies. They are also home to an MLS team, both their MLS and NBA average over 19,000 fans a game showing they can maintain a high-level team. Although, unlike Portland, Salt Lake City is not nearly close to other big cities with Boise Idaho being the closest at 340 miles away.
Potential names: Mustangs, Stallions, Golden Eagles
Located on the west side of Lake Michigan sits Milwaukee home of the reigning NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks and MLB’s Brewers, but lacking an NHL franchise. They are not a hockey-less city though as the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL call Milwaukee home. Located 115 miles south of Green Bay, home to one of the NFL’s most loyal fan bases lays one of if not the most intriguing city for the NHL to place a team.
Potential name: Admirals, Osprey, Choppers, Hogs
Who Is Next?
With it almost set in stone the Arizona Coyotes will be on the move the question arises, who is next? Above are six cities that are deserving with Quebec City and Portland at the top of the list. There are still many other cities that should be considered though, such as Houston Texas, Kanas City Missouri, and Halifax Nova Scotia.
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