Old expansion bids

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Brady Skjei, Mar 10, 2011.

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  1. Brady Skjei

    Brady Skjei Registered User

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    I've always been intrigued by the different expansions and relocations that the NHL has undergone.. have there been cities who put bids up for an expansion team (from the one in '67 to the most recent one) who never got one? And what about the cities who were almost about to get a relocated team but didn't? (like I heard the Winnipeg Jets were about to move to Minnesota but ended up in Phoenix) I've always wondered "what if" and i think it'd be cool to learn about what could have been.
     
  2. MiamiScreamingEagles

    MiamiScreamingEagles A Fistful of Dollars

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    There have been plenty of expansion proposals over time that weren't granted.

    An example is when the Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts were added. Other cities and areas bidding including Kansas City (Kansas), Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, Cleveland and Dallas.

    Denver (represented by Ivan Mullinex who eventually got a team in the WHA) and Seattle (Vince Abbey, President of the Seattle Totems) were awarded expansion franchises in the early part of 1975 for the 1976-77 season. The Seattle bid failed in part due to missed deadline(s) to post deposits. That was part of the NHL's plan to increase the League by two locations every other season throughout the 1970s (1970-71, 1972-73, 1974-75, 1976-77, etc.). The Denver bid was then changed to be added for the 1975-76 season. It was to join the Division with Boston, Buffalo, Toronto and California.
     
  3. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    The most fascinating relocation that never happened was probably the Blues to Saskatoon in the early to mid 80s. It seems mind-boggling to think it was seriously considered but it only failed because of the Board of Governors refusing to give permission. I think they already had printed caps and stuff for the Saskatoon Blues. Given how teams like Winnipeg and Quebec moved in the 90s it seems hard to believe the team would have lasted a long time in Saskatoon even if the league had approved it.
     
  4. DaveG

    DaveG Global Moderator

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    I remember before the Whalers moved there was a bid that would either have been for Hampton Roads, VA or Raleigh, NC headed up by George Shinn, at the time the owner of the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise. There was rumor they were close to getting the bid for Hampton Roads as the Whalers initially were supposed to be moving to Columbus. When the proposed idea by Karmanos was rejected all of a sudden the talk about Hampton Roads as an expansion location dropped off, and the talk of Raleigh as the relocation destination picked up in a big way. The rest, as they say, is history.

    I believe that Karmanos stated he would convert an old airplane hanger of all things in Columbus until an arena could be built. Needless to say the league axed that one in a hurry.
     
  5. kaiser matias

    kaiser matias Registered User

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    Hampton Roads Rhinos

    Apparently got pretty close to having a team in Northern Virginia
     
  6. nutbar

    nutbar Registered User

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    There was lots of talk of Portland getting the Penguins in 1999.
     
  7. MiamiScreamingEagles

    MiamiScreamingEagles A Fistful of Dollars

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    Another bid was a proposal by a group in Oklahoma City in the late 1990s.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4182/is_19970220/ai_n10104125/

     
  8. kmad

    kmad riot survivor

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    I don't know all the details, but apparently Saskatoon was a hair away from getting the St. Louis Blues in the early 1980s.
     
  9. MiamiScreamingEagles

    MiamiScreamingEagles A Fistful of Dollars

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    This is one account...

    http://www.stlouisgametime.com/2009/4/5/823172/the-saskatoon-blues-the-story

     
  10. kdb209

    kdb209 Registered User

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    C & P-ing from some old BoH expansion threads.

     
  11. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    Actually, the league didn't axe that one (and I remember this scenario well). The hangar itself is right there at Port Columbus and is absolutely massive; there actually had been rumblings over previous years to convert it into something like an arena.

    The reason that it didn't work out was because of the jostling at the time between a group headed by Lamar Hunt to get a publicly-built arena and Ohio State to get one built as well. Karmanos wanted nothing to do with Ohio State and (rightly) surmised that if they had the only arena in town, they would be absolutely screwed on rental and booking arrangements.

    As it turned out, the public venture was shot down, Ohio State built their arena with public dollars (and promptly violated every condition for getting that money floated), and Nationwide Arena was built solely with private money.
     
  12. eastcoaster

    eastcoaster Registered User

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    The CBC radio broadcast of the day announcing the original expansion in 1966 which can be found on the CBC website archives stated that Baltimore was next in line for a franchise if the NHL could not find an owner for the St. Louis franchise. Appearantly the NHL had awarded St. Louis a franchise even though no group from the city had actually made a bid for a team.

    Appearantly at the time Bill Wirtz and Bruce Norris owned the St. Louis arena so they must have figured if St. Louis got a team they could sell the rink to the team owners. I'm sure someone probably has more details on this.

    Baltimore did have an AHL team at the time and it was certainly a major league city with the Orioles and Colts. If they had got a team its likely there never would have been a team in Washington.
     
  13. MiamiScreamingEagles

    MiamiScreamingEagles A Fistful of Dollars

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    The NHL desired to have the six new teams divided evenly within three regions (east: Philly/Pittsburgh, central: St. Louis/Minnesota, west: Bay Area/Los Angeles) and also because St. Louis had an existing facility. At the time expansion was announced, St. Louis was the one of six that didn't have a committed ownership. Eventually a group involving Stan Musial was made public.
     
  14. Fish on The Sand

    Fish on The Sand Untouchable

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  15. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    Defeated or withdrawn bids for an NHL franchise in the 60s and 70s:

    1967 expansion: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Vancouver.
    (Approved: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St.Louis, Minneapolis-St.Paul, San Francisco-Oakland, Los Angeles.)

    1970 expansion: Baltimore (withdrawn: $6 million fee too expensive), Washington, Cleveland (withdrawn: see Baltimore), Atlanta, Kansas City.
    (Approved: Buffalo, Vancouver.)

    1972 expansion: Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Denver, San Diego.
    (Approved: Long Island, Atlanta.)

    1974 expansion: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Dallas, Phoenix, San Diego.
    (Approved: Washington, Kansas City.)
     
  16. kaiser matias

    kaiser matias Registered User

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    The Cleveland Barons of the AHL tried to play for the Stanley Cup and then join the NHL several times throughout the 1950's. It's briefly mentioned in the NHL Record Book in the history of the league section at the front.

    Interesting to see what would have happened had the league let Cleveland in back then.
     
  17. DaveG

    DaveG Global Moderator

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    So you're saying the media down here misinterpreted things, or outright misreported them. I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you. ;)

    In all honesty that had to be one of the weirder ideas I've ever heard of, though not necessarily a bad one depending on what the cost of conversion would have been. Would have been better attendance wise then the games here in Greensboro were for sure. There was virtually no embracing of the team from that city since everyone knew it was a lame-duck team. And the 180+ minute round trip from Raleigh is why I adopted my "60 mile/90KM" rule when discussing the kind of population impact for any proposed relocation/expansion team.
     
  18. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    Al Sutphin also tried to buy pretty much every "dormant" franchise in the NHL to move them to Cleveland, and the NHL never let him do it.

    My wife's uncle (now deceased) swore that the Barons of the post-WWII era would have been a playoff team in the NHL every single year of the 1950s and could have won at least one Stanley Cup. He was a season ticket holder but also had a few connections through the world of hockey, and apparently he wasn't the only one who felt that way. The fact that several of the Expansion Six teams stocked up on AHL players and became competitive right off the bat would seem to indicate that there was at least a chance that the best AHL team (paying the highest salaries as well) would have been competitive. That post-WWII goalie, by the way, was Johnny Bower, so maybe the better question is "What would the Leafs' history look like if Cleveland had joined?"

    I'm of the opinion that Cleveland would have been an enormously beneficial addition for the NHL. At the time, the only game in town was the Indians, who couldn't get over the hump in the AL because of the Yankees. The Cleveland Rams (NFL) had just won a championship and then immediately moved to Los Angeles, and were replaced by the Browns of the AAFC.

    For those who have never been to northeast Ohio, it's a large heavily-populated area that's oddly homogeneous and wildly diverse. When a Cleveland team does well, it's not just Cleveland and the suburbs that celebrate...it's the entire region. Akron/Canton/Massillon is an hour to the south (three original NFL teams from those, by the way), and there's a large commuter base from there that either works in Cleveland and stays for the games or works locally and makes the drive to Cleveland. When people talk about the way that the Leafs dominate the southern Ontario market when they're doing well, northeast Ohio is my benchmark for comparison.
     
  19. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    If memory serves me correctly, the hangar was something like 350,000 square feet on the floor. Seriously, it's absolutely enormous, and it would have provided an interesting logistic. "Please stay in your seats until the plane has taxied into the arena parking lot." Teams would by flying into Columbus already dressed for the games like a bunch of mini-mites, complete with orange slices being distributed by the stewardesses.
     
  20. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    Cleveland and the NHL (until 1945), according to Canadian Newspapers

    1928, Feb.9th:
    The Pittsburgh Pirates are in financial hardship. A Cleveland group wants to buy them and move them to Ohio. "It is known that many of the N.H.L. club owners favor Cleveland as a centre for major pro hockey, and if the group behind the Cleveland deal proves a responsible board, it is likely that Cleveland will get the franchise in preference to it remaining in Pittsburgh under other hands, or going to Philadelphia", claims the Montreal Gazette.

    1928, Apr.11th:
    "According to the present plan, responsible interests in Cleveland are prepared to proceed with the construction of an arena in that city which will compare with the best on the National Hockey League circuit. In turn they want some group to take over the hockey end of affairs, running an N.H.L. team in Cleveland and leasing the rink to hockey purposes." Frank and Lester Patrick are among those asked to "run the hockey end of affairs", but Lester Patrick states that "nothing definite has been decided" yet. (Montreal Gazette)

    1928, May 14th:
    At the annual directors meeting, the NHL decides to look into moving the Pirates to Philadelphia and not Cleveland. "Negotiations with Cleveland have been practically abandoned...No Cleveland interests were represented at the meeting." (Ottawa Citizen)

    Nothing comes out of it for the time being. The Pirates stay in Pittsburgh for another two years, but their situation doesn't improve. In 1929-30, a move is again being discussed. Cleveland makes a new bid. However, the NHL has other ideas.

    1930, May 12th:
    "A surprise was sprung at the annual meeting of the National Hockey League...when it was learned that the Pittsburgh franchise had been purchased by Lincoln Dickey, former Cleveland resident, who will place the Pirates in Atlantic City until a suitable rink has been erected at Cleveland.
    The sudden move is looked upon as a direct defiance of the Cleveland International League club, which had made a bid on the Pittsburgh club during the winter season, but, so the report goes, had withheld it on the advice of the N.H.L. that the price was too high.
    The Cleveland International interests had made formal application for membership in the N.H.L., but evidently this was not accepted, as the Deal with Dickey is reported to have gone through in a hurry at the closed conclave of the ice moguls." (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix)

    1932, May 11th:
    "Cleveland will have an N.H.L team, but that will be a year or two hence." (Vancouver Sun)

    1935, Apr.5th:
    "A. C. Sutphin, owner of the Cleveland Falcons in the International Hockey League, said here tonight he had conferred today with Frank Calder, president of the National Hockey League, submitting plans for Cleveland's entry into the National League.
    Sutphin would not reveal the mature of the plans, but he admitted that they found favor with Calder...The rink in Cleveland seats slightly less than 4,000 and if granted a franchise, Sutphin said, he will immediately begin construction of a new arena."
    Especially remarkable: "Negotiations between Cleveland interests and Frank Calder...are steps paving the way for a possible moving of the Canadien Hockey Club, of Montreal, to Cleveland, an official of the club stated here tonight...The contract of the Canadien Hockey Club with the Montreal Forum for their home games expires at the end of the 1935-36 season, according to the club official who added "after that we may move to Cleveland." (Montreal Gazette)

    The Cleveland Canadiens - now that would've had a massive impact on the history of the NHL.

    1936, May 8th:
    "Al Sutphin, owner of the Cleveland Falcons of the International Hockey League..., was prepared to present to the National League governors his plans for a new arena seating 9,300 in Cleveland, as a bid for a major league berth in 1937. The proposal did not reach the N.H.L. heads during a three-hour discussion, although Calder said it might be presented later." (Montreal Gazette)

    1939, Feb.10th:
    "Manager Connie Smythe of the Toronto Maple Leafs said last night he believed the National Hockey League would revert to an eight-team circuit next season with Cleveland as the 'hottest prospect' to replace Montreal Maroons who dropped from the league this season." (Windsor Daily Star)

    1939, May 15th:
    The NHL considers Cleveland, St. Louis and Philadelphia to replace the Maroons. However, the governors turn out to be unhappy with all three cities and settle for a seven-team circuit.
    "While describing the seven-club circuit as 'a most unsatisfactory condition', Calder said...that no other city appeared to be ready for major league hockey." (Vancouver Sun)

    1943, July 14th:
    "Cleveland Barons are willing to accept a National Hockey League franchise for the 1943-44 season but first must obtain approval of the N.H.L. and then they must obtain the consent of the American Hockey League, said Al Sutphin, Baron's owner, in an interview here last night." (Calgary Herald)

    Again, nothing came out of it.
     
  21. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    No kidding. This almost happened:

    [​IMG]

    This is ironic, considering he ended up sharing an arena with NC State instead. Of course NC State is nowhere near the 300-lb gorilla that Ohio State is.
     
  22. Buck Aki Berg

    Buck Aki Berg Done with this place

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    I'd completely forgotten how close we were to having the most bush-league name in professional sports. I'm sure the Orlando Magic would have been happy to have been relieved of that burden.
     
  23. tony d

    tony d Registered User Sponsor

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    Interesting to see some of the cities mentioned here. I wonder how hockey would have worked in a city like Baltimore or Indianapolis.

    To add to this topic I can remember Houston was mentioned as a new location for the Edmonton Oilers if they had moved in the 90's.
     
  24. Buck Aki Berg

    Buck Aki Berg Done with this place

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    It's a shame that the Conseco Fieldhouse wasn't built with hockey in mind, if they were able to squeeze an ice surface and 18,000 people, it'd probably be the best venue in the league.
     
  25. kaiser matias

    kaiser matias Registered User

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    Also a shame that during the WHA merger, the NHL didn't allow the Cincinnati Stingers and Birmingham Bulls join with the other 4 teams. Can't remember why they were paid to disband (though both joined the Central League the next season; the Stingers folded 33 games in, while the Bulls lasted 58 games until the following year), but having an NHL team in Alabama would have made future expansion interesting, provided the Bulls could last that long.
     

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