1997 expansion approval
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12-20-2012, 03:54 AM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Originally Posted by
For starters, adding teams that quickly put a massive strain on talent supply levels. If you consider that an average player takes five years to develop, from the point he's drafted to being NHL-ready, what does it say to add that many teams in about a decade? Where were they going to get players? They have to build up development programs, farm teams, a draft record.... and do this while they're already operating as an NHL team.
If you then factor that it seems fans in newer US markets are mainly attracted by a record of winning (at least initially), how the heck were these teams going to compete at THAT level? They'd need a good 10-15 yrs just to become a regular old NHL team.
The talent was already there, especially with the influx of European talent. Yes, it may have been some years past the Iron Curtain, but lots of players stayed in Europe because there wasn't enough place for them in the NHL. Going by talent alone, they probably should expand the league right now as well.
The only thing questionable about this was how they spread talent. The expansion drafts rarely handed good players to teams. While it's natural that you don't want to have teams lose their good players because of this, the way teams sort of circumvented certain parts was really bad, like having players on the draftable list that hadn't been in America for years.
I don't agree with your other point at all. Expansion wasn't suddenly completely different. Earlier expansion-teams got their talent the same way and they were doing just fine. Hardly any of the earlier expansion-teams had immediate success, so that isn't all that different from before either.
Beyond all that, the teams weren't on a bad path right away. Nashville was doing just fine until Leipold trashed the team and sold everything. Columbus had a very good first season, probably too good for their own sake. Their problem wasn't starting of badly, it was staying at the same level for years on end, which was caused by bad management. Their attendance was just fine for quite a lot of years, and it probably will just be fine once they actually have some sort of success. Minnesota had excellent attendance and some good years, nothing bad about them. They never made it quite to the top, but then again, that's true for pretty much everyone. There's only so much success to go around. Atlanta ended up as a failure, and that was squarely based on bad ownership. You won't get anywhere when your ownership is in turmoil for pretty much your entire existance. It wasn't wrong to try Atlanta, but it may have been wrong to chose these owners.
On another matter, successful development of hockey can't just be measured by a sold out arena. What matters is the routs that develop. You put a hockey team somewhere and people will start playing themselves. That's what growth means, you very much build a new fanbase that isn't just a fan of a team, but loves hockey. You now see talent pop up in places that didn't bring out talent before, but it takes some time, see California. That's why you shouldn't leave after just a few years, and that's probably why the first option for the NHL is always another local owner taking over.
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