by Michael Lowrey
Aside from dumping Alexander Smmin’s contract, the team has been inactive in the off season. Ticket sales are expected to be up this coming season, after falling for the past six years as the team struggled on the ice. And the Canes remain for sale, with the strange condition that existing owner Peter Karmanos wants to stay in control for a couple of years (!). Luke Decock of the Raleigh News & Observer observes:
Even though the NHL has been steadfastly against franchise relocation, and it seems short-sighted and self-defeating to allow a team to move in the middle of an expansion process that could generate $1 billion for the owners, Karmanos included, there’s a worst-case scenario for Hurricanes fans.
That would involve the league giving an expansion team only to Las Vegas, allowing Quebec to purchase and relocate an Eastern Conference team and going with 31 teams until Seattle or another western city gets its act together, thereby avoiding the conference imbalance adding an expansion team in Quebec would create, with 14 teams in the Western Conference and 16 in the East currently.
The Hurricanes aren’t the only candidate to move, but they’re the only team with a for-sale sign in the yard at the moment, and Quebec would likely pay a premium for the franchise. While it’s unlikely, it’s not impossible as long as the team remains unsold.