Lil' Jimmy Mirtle has a post up displaying some of the odder choices for neutral site locations for the pre-season affairs for the NHL. These locations include: Kansas City, Winnipeg, Las Vegas, Halifax, Salt Lake City, and various places around Europe.
Some of these locales have meaning, like Europe where four teams will be playing their first games of the regular season; Winnipeg, which wholes a game for the Coyotes every year, and Kansas City, which is hosting a Kings game since the same people who own the Kings (AEG) own the Sprint Center in KC. Then you have those one-offs like Halifax and Summerside, PEI-- which hold training camps for some teams, and have for a while. SLC and Vegas are interesting choices, especially since the MGM Grand will be hosting a game.
Oddly enough, the Kings are playing in KC, Vegas, and SLC-- which makes you wonder what AEG is really doing with this team in terms of parading them around. Sure, you can make a speculation that the Kings will be moving to one of these destinations-- but it's a long-shot.
The real question is whether or not the NHL feels stable enough to do another round of expansion. Is this the feeling out process to see what reception the NHL will get in these markets?? Are these games true gauges to get an actual response, since it is a pre-season game??
When you look at the selections, like KC and Vegas-- though it could have a link to the teams playing, they are interesting choices since those cities have been in the rumor-mill for expansion possibilities-- Vegas for it's luster and KC because they have a huge arena built and no team in any league calling it home. Winnipeg could be grouped in there too, since the Canadian marketplace seems to be ready for another team and many in Winnipeg feel wronged by the Jets getting grounded and moving to Phoenix (pun intended).
You know it's summer when you start thinking about why pre-season games are being played where they are and expansion comes up.
But maybe it's time. The NHL has thrived, the salary cap has gone up ten-fold since the system has been instituted, and there's always new markets out there that could really help the NHL. That said, if not expansion-- maybe it's time to re-locate some teams out there and move them into markets that will not only help the teams out financially, but help the NHL out as well-- not only in finance, but exposure. The latter being what the game needs to thrive.
We'll see if this turns into anything or if it's just a case of trying to make the neutral site games truly neutral, without any feeling to either teams that are playing. Ooooo speculation-- how I love thee.