How the NHL landed in Ottawa
The Toronto Star's Damien Cox delivers an excellent article today on the beginnings of the modern-day Senators:
Since the modern Senators are only 15 years old, however, it's not quite waxing nostalgic.It's really good stuff, and a nice example of how the league's bizarre '90s expansion plans have ultimately reshaped the league.
It's more about looking back and marvelling at how the Sens landed their franchise in the first place.
And probably how they didn't deserve to. I'll never forget being there on Dec. 6, 1990 at the plush Breaker's Hotel in West Palm Beach as then NHL president John Ziegler sat at a press conference with Bruce Firestone of Ottawa on one side and Phil Esposito of the successful Tampa bidder on the other, announcing the NHL's two newest teams.
My guess is that Ziegler and friends never imagined that, 17 years later, we'd be looking at a league that has been dominated by expansion and/or relocated franchises: Anaheim, Ottawa, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Colorado, Dallas and Florida.
In fact, since the Panthers make an unlikely appearance in the finals in 1996 against the newly minted Avalanche, five of the past 10 Stanley Cup winners have fallen into this category. And, of the 22 teams to appear in the finals between 1996 and 2007, 11 are recently created franchises.
(If anything, I imagine the expansion forefathers in West Palm Beach saw nothing more than an easy cash grab and some lower-seeded fodder in these new teams they were granting life to.)
Of course, 13 of the league's 30 teams fall into the 'new' category, but even still, that's an awful lot of success for teams either being born of nothing or moved out of a dying market. It's been more fruitful to be a newcomer than one of the old guard the past 10 years, and given this year's Anaheim-Ottawa final, that's a trend that seems to be continuing.