There is “strong speculation” that the NHL could announce two expansion franchises headed for Quebec City and Toronto once the lockout ends, according to Jason Kay of The Hockey News.
Those two cities have been rumored to be on deck for a franchise for some time now, along with Seattle or (sigh) Hartford. However, the two Canadian cities were always considered the best bets.
The largest hurdle to bringing a second team to Toronto would be getting the Maple Leafs to sign off on having a new neighbor, but it’s nothing that a few million dollars likely wouldn’t accomplish.
Additionally, adding two new teams to the league — while it wouldn’t address the issue of still having a team in Phoenix — would allow the NHL to implement its previously planned realignment, this time with eight teams in every conference. The expansion fees that the new owners would have to pay might also help lessen the blow of any lost revenue during the lockout.
However, the league is denying the report of expansion, leaving hockey fans in Ontario and Quebec in limbo. Which, as they wait for the union’s response to the owners’ latest offer, is right where they would be anyway.