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For 40 years Canadians have seen the NHL expand into US markets where the locals have little interest in hockey. We understand that in some cases this has been a good thing for hockey, expanding interest in the sport and creating new hockey markets. We also understand that sometimes the local Canadian hockey market couldn’t afford to support the team, as was the case briefly in Winnipeg and Quebec, mainly due to the currency exchange rate. However, hockey markets like Montreal and especially Toronto are starving for additional NHL teams. Toronto could easily support an additional two teams, probably one west of the city and one to the north. NHL Commissioner Gary Betman shut down expansion into Toronto when investors wanted to move the money losing Phoenix Coyotes to Toronto. Betman would rather prop up money losing US teams than add teams in markets where people love hockey and would fill seats in arenas. Yes there are US expansion success stories, such as Nashville, but it’s ridiculous that teams like the Florida Panthers should exist while Toronto has only one NHL team. The city of Toronto is now bigger than the city of Chicago, which has two Major League Baseball teams. If Chicago can support two baseball teams, surely Toronto can support two hockey teams.
Now that hockey is back I feel like pontificating on how we could make the game better. In your opinion, what changes or tweaks would improve the game? I have several ideas but I'll start with two: 1) Division winners should not be guaranteed a top 3 playoff seeding, just a playoff spot. 2) If we're sticking with this conference layout for now then I think the top 3 teams in each conference should be able to choose their first round playoff opponent. First place chooses their preferred opponent in the bottom 4, followed by second and third place. I think it will make the regular season a little more meaningful.