The hottest topic during media day today was the potential expansion of the NHL to Vegas, and everyone wanted to know what the players thought about it. The most common question I came across was 'will hockey work in Vegas?'. For us in the Valley we know it is working and growing here. So why not there?
"It'll be interesting to see, obviously, what happens in the next couple days. And if a team was here just how it would work, what's going to come with playing in Vegas." John Tavares said when asked about a possible team in Vegas.
When asked how the Vegas market could be any different to Phoenix, Tavares added, "I still think Phoenix and here are very different. Very much so, you get a lot of people who come south from up north come to both cities but its very much a destination place here in Las Vegas. The rink is in a really good location, right in the heart of the heart of things." He said. "They have a lot of people who want to experience NHL hockey and try to develop a fan base. I think in Phoenix things are tougher because it's tough getting out to Glendale, it's not easy when you got to drive a ways and fight a lot of traffic. And when people want to enjoy themselves, they can't really enjoy themselves as much as they'd like, same with in Phoenix because I know they have to drive. That takes away of some of the atmosphere, some of the ability to enjoy going to an NHL game. I think there are some similarities but there are some major differences."
This is interesting, considering Tavares just had his home rink moved from Long Island to Brooklyn. The transportation struggle for the Islanders players could be comparable to the fans getting to Glendale, but when the face of a franchise knows what the issues being in Glendale can bring, it is time to take a hard look on how you should sell your team for free agents.
When it came to talking about Vegas as a players destination, everyone seemed to have the same opinion. Players would be able to temper the temptations of Vegas and concentrate on playing.
Erik Karlsson, who is nominated for the Norris, spoke briefly about how a Vegas team would be effected by the atmosphere of Vegas. "The more you go here you get used to the Vegas life style. I don't think there will be an issue with anyone coming here to play."
P.K. Subban was asked about what is attractive to Vegas with a players standpoint, he responded with. "There are always things going on here. It's definitely one of the most attract destinations in North America. People come here all the time. I think as a player you know that playing in a place like this that there is always going to be something going on."
The two star defensemen were very positive about warm weather climate and the hockey that could be played in Vegas as well. Vegas having activity 24/7 would be a draw for some players, or maybe it would be the warm climate. But until the expansion is announced and the expansion draft is set, it is all just guesses on how things will happen.
Shea Weber was asked about playing in a smaller or non-traditional market and if the sunbelt states or the southwest would help hockey thrive in Las Vegas.
"You see how much its grown in all of the US and how it has expanded down south. I've been in Nashville for eleven years now. I've seen it grow like crazy. The youth hockey is a lot bigger now and those kids are getting older. It's exciting to be able to go places and be more involved." Weber said. Nashville has been growing the fan base for years and the non-traditional market has been embraced, mostly due to the winning of the team.
With so much talk about Vegas during media day, you have to wonder if the announcement of expansion will come before or during the NHL Awards. Be sure to tune in at 4pm Pacific on NBCSN for the awards and check back tomorrow for my coverage of the event.