If only Seattle had bid.
Or if Quebec City could somehow be picked up and relocated to the West Coast.
That way, commissioner Gary Bettman wouldn’t have to worry about the NHL’s alignment, which currently has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference versus just 14 in the West.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, Bettman conceded that, should Las Vegas and Quebec City be granted expansion franchises, both new teams could end up in the Western Conference.
Which wouldn’t be an issue for Vegas.
But would be a pretty big one for Quebec City…
“The answer is that’s something we would obviously have to consider,” Bettman said of putting Quebec City in a conference with the likes of Vancouver, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose, and in a Central Division (presumably) with teams as far-flung as Dallas and Denver, the closest being Chicago.
Not ideal, to say the least. Lest we forget the rivalry the Nordiques and Habs used to enjoy when both were together in the old Adams Division:
Now, granted, Bettman only said the NHL would have to “consider” putting Quebec City in the West. He also said that just because “we identify [geography] as an issue doesn’t mean we’ve reached a conclusion.”
“The experience with Winnipeg in the Southeast (Division) was less than ideal,” Bettman admitted. “The experience over time with Detroit and Columbus in the West — and they’re farther west geographically — they couldn’t wait to get into the East.”
At the end of the day, Quebec City might not even get an expansion team. At last glance, the Canadian dollar was sitting just below $0.77 US. (Of course, Bettman has brushed that concern aside.)
It all adds up to quite the puzzle. One that simply doesn’t have a perfect solution.