Monday was the deadline for cities to submit applications for potential NHL expansion teams, as owners from Las Vegas and Quebec City deposited $10 million each to begin the bidding process.
Both cities are in an excellent position to secure teams by the 2017-18 season.
In Las Vegas, billionaire head of Hockey Vision Las Vegas Bill Foley plans to have a professional team at the new 20,000-seat arena on The Strip set to open in early 2016. This comes after Foley spearheaded a campaign to bring an NHL squad to Sin City late next year. Although it looks like he will have to wait an additional year, Foley has reportedly sold over 13,000 tickets for a team that doesn’t even exist yet.
On the opposite end of the continent, Montreal-based communications company Quebecor is constructing an 18,000-seat arena as a potential venue for both a professional hockey team and a site for a future Winter Olympics. Many expect the Quebec Nordiques to make a return to the city after 20 years without a top-level team. The Nordiques played 16 seasons as an NHL squad in Quebec City before becoming the Colorado Avalanche in 1995.
Assuming both cities succeed in adding a team, it would likely resolve the disproportionate number of teams in each conference. Currently there are 16 teams in the East and 14 in the West. If each conference adds a team, expect a team from the East to jump to the other side.
Both cities still have a couple of more steps in the expansion process. The final deadline is on August 10th.