Well, Gary Bettman has done it again: He just announced that Quebec City’s NHL expansion bid has been denied, but Las Vegas’s has been approved:
Bettman said the NHL board of governors unanimously accepted an expansion bid from Sin City on Wednesday, with the new team set to begin play in the 2017-18 season.
I have so many questions. Starting with:
1. Does anyone in Vegas other than the bookies actually know or care that hockey exists? Seriously, it’s a city in the desert which has zero hockey culture whatsoever. Who are they planning to sell tickets to, disgruntled tourists who lost big at slots?
2. How do you evenly divide 31 teams among 4 divisions? (Okay, not that 30 divided by 4 was much better, especially with 2 extra teams in the east. But still. 31 is an odd number that will create scheduling nightmares.)
3. What are the Vegas odds on the team being named the Las Vegas Nordiques?
4. How the hell is Gary Bettman still in charge of the NHL?
The lockout has dragged 113 days and I wasn’t holding out much hope for any kind of season, shortened or otherwise. But this morning, I woke up to fresh snow outside and a shiny new agreement-in-principle that could see the NHL returning as soon as next week:
Depending on when a new CBA is reached, the league – according to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun – has 50-game and 48-game schedules drawn up. A 50-game season would start on Jan. 15 and a 48-game season would start on Jan. 19. The existing 2012-13 NHL schedule was already canceled through Jan. 14.
Now, there are an awful lot of people — even here in hockey-mad Montreal — who are responding with “who cares?” Fed up with the labour disputes and with the bickering between millionaires and billionaires, they’ve long since declared a curse on both houses and have merrily gone about finding alternative sources of entertainment. There’s a very real question about whether the NHL can truly recover from this, and if so, how long it might take.
But I’ve missed hockey. A lot. I daresay I’m not the only one. In absense of hockey, we naturally look for other blood sports to draw our attention. The red square protests, the Charbonneau commission, the ugliest Quebec election in decades, the rekindling of the language wars… we desperately need a distraction from all of it. And if the bleu-blanc-rouge can provide one, even in a compressed season, well, I’ll take it happily.
Welcome back, hockey. Don’t do it again.