When the new division alignments were announced, it was noticeable that the Western Conference was left two teams shorter than the Eastern Conference. So, it left open some space for possible expansion. More specifically, expansion into the Pacific Northwest. The top city in the Pacific Northwest for possible NHL expansion was always Seattle, Washington. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed everyone’s belief that the NHL was targeting a city in the Pacific Northwest for a franchise.
The question Daly was asked was where did Seattle fit into their plans once the Arizona Coyotes reached a new deal to stay in Phoenix, he responded with:
“I’m not sure we ever addressed Seattle as a specific alternative in that process, but I think it’s safe to say we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally. Going forward, I would expect that, to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration.”
Earlier in July, it was reported that the city of Portland, Oregon was very keen on luring the Coyotes to Portland if a new deal was not reached. Unlike Seattle, Portland would be more ready to receive an NHL franchise since they have an arena that could currently be used for an NHL franchise. The Rose Garden, also known as the Rose Garden Arena is the home of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers as well as Portland WinterHawks of the Western Hockey League. Meanwhile, in Seattle, a deal has been approved for the build of an NBA/NHL arena. However, a franchise in either sport would have to be confirmed on its way in order to break ground to build the new arena. So, Portland would be much more ready to receive an NHL franchise.
So what does this mean for the Ducks? It’s a matter of travel. Right now, with the new division arrangement, the Ducks will travel 48,568 miles this season. The league average for the upcoming year is 41,390 miles. So the Ducks are doing some more traveling than most teams in the league. The Ducks even do more traveling than both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. And people were saying that those two franchise should really be upset because they’re going to have to travel so much more than everyone else. Well, actually, that’s not exactly the case. The three teams who have to travel the most in the upcoming season are the San Jose Sharks (57,612), Arizona Coyotes (52,633) and Colorado Avalanche (49,007). The Ducks travel the 5th most among all NHL teams followed in sixth and seventh by the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Welcome to the new Pacific Division, where we travel more than anybody!
So, I think the Ducks would be much happier without adding another destination to travel to in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe add a team in Las Vegas! That would be a little less travel. However, don’t expect the NHL to put any kind of pity on any of the Pacific Division when it comes to travel. So, what could an NHL team in Portland be called? Well, let’s take a look at what Portland is known for and go from there. Microbrewers, Strippers, Methheads, Swooshes (Nike, duh). Portland is called the Rose City. Having ‘rose’ in some sort of hockey team name is not right. Or maybe they would revive their old Portland Buckaroos. They were originally formed in 1928 when they joined the Pacific Coast Hockey League, which was a minor league that only last from 1928 to 1931. The Buckaroos survived a couple of small minor leagues until joining the Western Hockey League in 1960. The franchise disappeared in the late 1970′s.
Anyway, I’ve gone more into this topic than I thought. To wrap up, The very next place to get an NHL franchise is going to be Portland, Oregon. It seems fairly safe to make that assumption with the current state of the divisions and conferences.