NHL’s Las Vegas expansion fills craving for money, flavor of the month

Say hello to a Black Knight-mare in the making. … sorry, we meant to say grab as much money as possible from expansion or transfer fees.

The Coyotes were valued at $220 million in Forbes’ 2015 rankings. Least valuable? The Panthers at $186 million. The Original Six, by the way, held the top five positions, with the Red Wings eighth at a puny $600 million.

For the Vegas team, expansion fees alone amount to $500 million to enter the league and be a doormat starting in the 2017-18 season. In comparison, Minnesota and Columbus joined the NHL and paid $80 million each in 2000.

There’s no chance Vegas will pay off the way Vancouver did. The Canucks came into the league in 1970 for $6 million. They are now worth more than 100 times that figure.

The half-a-billion principal owner Bill Foley and pals pay will be divided among the other 30 teams. Yeah, expansion!

Bettman crowed in a statement confirming Vegas as Team 31 that he and his disciples are “truly excited that an NHL franchise will be the first major professional sports team in this vibrant, growing, global destination city.”

But do fans develop in a destination city or just show up when their favorite team is in town? Displaced followers flood an arena when their boys come in and tend to stay away from other games.

Vegas promises big immediate financial returns, but when the novelty wears off it could be in no better position than the Phoenix market. Vegas loves winners. Expansion teams don’t fit the profile. The so-called Black Knights will soon be playing nickel slots while NHL power teams table with the high rollers.

We get the West Point connection to the Vegas team name, but it smacks of oxymoron. Too bad the team won’t be quartered in the Excaliber.

Vegas is known for many things. Gambling and, shall we say, pleasures of the flesh are chief among them. Hockey isn’t.

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