Should NHL expand, contract or relocate?

Should NHL expand, contract or relocate?
August 2, 2013, 11:00 am
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Earlier this week, while checking out BC Place for the 2014 Heritage Classic between the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked if Seattle might be targeted as the next city to get an NHL team.

“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,” Daly told reporters.

“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.”

With the NHL’s recent realignment – 16 teams in the East, 14 in the West – we can all agree that something needs to be done to create a more competitive balance.

With that in mind, here is a two-pronged question for you.

One, should the NHL expand to 32 teams? If so, which cities are best suited to support a team?

Second, should the NHL contract to 28 teams? If so, which cities least deserve to have a team?

Most realists would tell you that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has no appetite – none -- for contraction. It’s one of the reasons the league helped bail out the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils.

The NHLPA also has no interest in contraction. On the contrary, more teams mean more jobs and the players are all for more jobs.

Some fans, however, wonder if relocation might serve the NHL better than expansion or contraction. Like maybe moving the Coyotes, who were at 81.3 percent capacity last season, to Quebec City. Or taking the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were a league-worst 80.3 percent capacity, and moving them to Hamilton, Ontario.

So if you were to expand, contract or relocate teams in the NHL, where would it be and why?