Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Sci-Fi Part VI: Next 10 Years, Part I

By Tim Lively
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Jun 23, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center

Jonathan Toews

talks to media during a press conference in advance of the 2015 NHL Awards at MGM Grand. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2017 – The Blackhawks Play Their First Game in Las Vegas

Ever since the realignment of the divisions that created a two-team surplus in the Eastern Conference, there has been speculation as to which cities in North America may be new homes for NHL expansion teams that would help even out the “imbalance.” The cities of Seattle, Houston and Saskatoon have been pegged front runners as expansion team candidates. However, when the NHL Board of Governors set Aug. 10, 2015, as the deadline for new NHL franchise applications, only two cities submitted bids: the former home of the Nordiques (before they moved to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche), Quebec City, and perhaps a true darkhorse, Las Vegas.

Like many of you, I am quite amazed Las Vegas even made it into the conversation as a possible venue for NHL expansion. While it can certainly be said Vegas is outgrowing its gambling mecca roots, I can assure this wasn’t a big factor in zeroing in on Sin City as the home of a new hockey club. Rather, Vegas has the one attribute to which NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has a demonstrated attraction: an untapped sports market.

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Like Columbus, Ohio, and Nashville, Tenn., before it, with no established professional sports team, Las Vegas provides the NHL an opportunity to corner the city’s sports market. I’m sure as far as Bettman is concerned, the fact that Vegas met its season ticket drive goal as part of market research this past April is merely icing on the cake. Vegas, however, is a venue like no other when it comes to accommodating pro sports teams, and the NHL will be presented with a myriad of challenges, including a good number that have yet to be even fathomed. Still, should the city’s bid succeed, it might open the door for other pro leagues to plant their flags under the neon as well.

One thing is for certain: In its potential inaugural season (and probably every season thereafter), Vegas’ home ice will be plagued by any visiting team who has a fan base that travels well and/or has large pockets throughout North America. Needless to say, Hawks Nation tops the list in both these categories. I know I got my 2017 spring break planned! ’Hawks in Vegas, baby!

Next: Looking Ahead At 2018

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