Expansion is on the agenda in this week’s NHL Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas.
You know, the expansion that the League insisted last year wasn’t happening.
The Las Vegas locale is key, as Sin City looms as the most likely candidate for NHL expansion. Speculation suggests a new team could take the ice in Vegas as soon as the 2017–2018 season.
If expansion does go forward (and let’s be real, it will), expect two teams to join the Western Conference over the next few years. Las Vegas seems inevitable at this point. After Sam’s Town, the other most likely NHL newbie is Seattle. The League seems eager to locate a team in Emerald City, but faces a major hurdle: a pro-sports caliber arena. There is a project to build a new venue in the city, but its current terms have an “NBA first” clause that would need to change in the near future. There’s also a project to build a new arena in the suburbs outside Seattle that could be a viable home.
Other leading contenders are Portland (the Oregon one) and Kansas City (presumably on the Kansas side, since Missouri already has The Blues in St. Louis). Fans dying for another team in Canada shouldn’t get their hopes up. The NHL needs to balance out its two conferences by adding two teams to the West. The only Canadian cities that are realistically viable for a new NHL franchise are in the East. Since there’s no current Eastern Conference team willing to go to the West, Canada is out of luck.
But luck is what Las Vegas is all about. An NHL team on the Vegas Strip is a rather intriguing prospect. The NHL has always been deemed the most “blue collar” of the four major American sports leagues. That’s changed quite a bit in recent years, with glitzy new venues and NHL players dating actresses, models and singers. Two Stanley Cups for the Los Angeles Kings have brought some sparkle to hockey, as well.
But Las Vegas is a whole other beast. The NHL has embraced Vegas the past few years as a venue for League events. A positive response to a season ticket drive from prospective team owners indicates the local business and entertainment communities are open to integrating the NHL into the Vegas mix. The possibilities are intriguing.
Showgirl Night? Bring a showgirl and get in for half-price.
Souvenir NHL-branded pasties?
Before anything else can happen, though, a Las Vegas team needs a name. Let’s brainstorm!
NHL Las Vegas Team Name Suggestions
Vegas Golden Nuggets PROS: Nice link to the city’s heritage; suggestion of success CONS: Licensing issues with the casino; Denver Nuggets will NOT be amused; Chicken McNuggets either
Las Vegas Cacti PROS: Hints of danger and toughness; pulls in more of the Nevada environment CONS: Ugly green uniforms; inevitable “Pricks” nickname
Vegas Moonlite Bunnies PROS: Appeal to an adult crowd; synergy with Nevada’s embrace of the Oldest Profession CONS: Loss of family audience; shirtless uniforms not flattering for all players (or safe)
Las Vegas Enforcers PROS: Ties to another colorful piece of Vegas history; recognition for traditionally devalued NHL role CONS: Striped uniforms; non-stop RICO inquiries; machine gun logo a tough sell
Las Vegas Blackjacks PROS: Enticing to casino partners; amusing playing card-themed mascot; can adopt “Always bet on black” as a motto CONS: A bit too on the nose (even for a pro sports league); Rachel Dolezal will claim to be a team member
Hunka Hunka Burning Love of Las Vegas PROS: “Thank you very much!”; Lisa Marie will buy season tickets CONS: Glitter in places you don’t want glitter; hard to fit name on a jersey; hack announcers insisting players have “left the building” whenever things go poorly
Las Vegas 51s PROS: Attractive to alien enthusiasts; aura of mystery; unlikely allies with supporters of Puerto Rican statehood CONS: Attractive to alien enthusiasts; inevitable conspiracy theories when team doesn’t win
Vegas Abracadabra PROS: Magic-themed merchandise; Neil Patrick Harris is so there; cool top hat logo CONS: No one can stand that much Steve Miller Band; David Blaine is so there; broadcasters have vast selection of magic-related puns from which to choose
Vegas Hoover Dams PROS: Will encourage strong team defense; water-colored uniforms can’t be uglier than the ones the Whalers used to wear CONS: Hoover Dam not actually in Las Vegas; overload of “dam hockey” jokes
Las Vegas Dealers PROS: NHL finally conquers the visor market; “House Always Wins” slogan CONS: Too many “dealer’s choice” puns; legalization advocates get the wrong idea
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on June 24, 2015.