Could Houston be the next expansion city for the NHL? Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Boston Bruins, certainly thinks so. But it would be a major mistake by the NHL.
In an interview on local radio, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs discussed future NHL expansion, citing “Houston maybe being the next [city] after Seattle.”
Houston would be a good city to host an NHL team; there is a good population, the Dallas Stars have made hockey in Texas work and there would be an established in-state rival. But many hockey fans north of the border would be outraged, as the people of Quebec have wanted their team back since it left.
The biggest issue on expanding to Houston is not even related to the market size of the area. There is no way the league needs to have 33 teams. No other professional sports league out of the MLB, NFL and NBA has more than 32 teams. The NHL is struggling to keep up with these leagues financially with just 31 teams.
Another reason this would not make sense is that the talent pool in the NHL is not large enough to support 33 competitive teams, assuming a Seattle franchise is added to the league in the near future. Every year the draft is getting deeper and deeper and more quality talent is found later and later. However, outside the first round, the odds of making it to the NHL drop off steeply. It is a basic case of supply and demand. Adding a new team to the league increases demand by 23 NHL players, and the supply is simply not there.
Don’t worry Houston, there is still hope: relocation. Teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes could not even reach 80 percent of maximum attendance for the season. There are other teams with shaky ownership that could also be on the move like the Ottawa Senators.
Yes, of course, owners like Jeremy Jacobs would prefer more expansion teams just for the money, seeing as the Seattle ownership group must pay a $650 million expansion fee just to have a team. That money is split up and distributed across the league. Unfortunately, what the owners are not seeing is that too much expansion too fast will dilute the product on the ice.