PUCK YES?

What the Seattle NHL expansion might mean for Houston

Hockey in Houston? Don't laugh; it could happen. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Seattle will be the National Hockey League's 32nd team, and will begin play in 2020-21. But there is a lot of buzz that Houston might get a relocated franchise, presumably from the Pacific Division, to balance out the West. As of now, the Pacific Division would have nine teams, the Central seven. Pretty simple math. So the NHL might do some Game of Thrones like moving and change allegiances and rivalries. (Stick with me, this will make sense at the end).

There have been two teams mentioned as possibilities:

  1. The Calgary Flames. I hate this. Teams should never be taken out of Canada. In fact, there should be more. Canada is hockey heaven, and Calgary is a fantastic city. The problem is they play in a dilapidated stadium, and the city has refused to put any money in a new barn. It's exacerbated by the fact the rival Edmonton has one of the best new palaces in all of hockey. The hope here is a move to Houston is just a threat, and that the city eventually comes up with something. However, they just voted down an Olympic bid, so a new stadium might not be in the cards. It would ruin one of the great rivalries - the battle of Alberta - but from a competitive standpoint, this is a pretty damned interesting team. Maybe it's my inner Canadian speaking, but I would be disappointed if this were to become the Houston team. On the flip side, the oil industry brings a lot of Calgary natives to the city, so there would already be at least some fan base in place. (I am about to visit Saskatchewan next week, with a stop on the way through the greatest hockey city in the world, Toronto, and a trip back through Calgary on the way home). I love Calgary and want to see the Flames thrive there.
  2. The Arizona Coyotes. This one seems more likely. They have ownership issues. Stadium issues. It is a shame, because when the team was actually in Phoenix and not Glendale, the attendance was solid. This should be a much better market, and in a perfect world they would sort out the ownership problems and get back to Phoenix. It has already been reported that they are going to move to the Central, but if Calgary was the team to move to Houston, that's an easy flop because it does not have to happen for two years.

Would it work in Houston?

I am biased, but I believe it would. There are a lot of transplants here. That does not mean Blackhawks fans are suddenly going to become Houston Fill in the Blanks fans, but they will go to games.

A Houston team in a Central Division would have a natural rivalry with Dallas, and would join Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Nashville, Winnipeg and Colorado in a very well designed Central Division. The Coyotes have some young talent, will likely have another high pick this season and could be fun by the time it happens. (Yes, I know they are playing well now, but hard to believe they can sustain it).

And if they are good...well we know Houston is a front-running town. Casual fans would get behind it. Remember how packed Toyota Center was for the Aeros playoffs?

Ideally, a team like Carolina or Florida would be the one to move, but there is no easy way to realign that group into a Central that makes sense. Regardless, Seattle getting a team is not bad news for Houston. There is a lot of smoke out there, so maybe there is some fire. A Song of Ice and Fire in Houston? (See, I told you it would make sense at the end).

It could happen.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For some reason this week really got to me. All the Antonio Brown stuff, Kevin Durant scolding the media, Justin Verlander whining about millionaire players not becoming billionaires, Odell posting a cryptic tweet because he might be traded.

There's so much drama now. Maybe there was in the past too but it was behind the scenes. We didn't hear about every player's every thought. I liked not knowing this much about our athletes.

Sometimes it was misleading not knowing them better. I didn't root for OJ because I was a Walter Payton guy but I admired what OJ did right up until he started killing people. Same goes for Rae Carruth. But those are extreme examples.

Today we know way too much about our athletes. Way too much. Back in the day I wouldn't have known that Josh Hader and Josh Allen were little racists. I'd be fine not knowing that.

I'd be good not knowing that Laremy Tunsil is a weed enthusiast and ready for nuclear holocaust at the same time.

I'd be better off not knowing that Kevin Durant has Twitter burner accounts. I just have a hard time understanding why one of the great basketball players of our time cares what some 18-year old thinks of him.

I didn't need to know every detail about the KD - Russell Westbrook cat fight. It just wasn't necessary.

I'd rather not hear about how LeBron's pee pee hurt because Phil Jackson used the word posse.

How Antonio Brown and Big Ben have hissy fits.

How the Steelers offensive line was so mad at LeVeon that they started talking about his money. That was a big no-no back in the day. You never talked about another man's money.

Of course none of the old rules apply today. Used to be, guys retired at the end of the season. Now they retire at halftime of the second game.

Used to be you didn't record your teammate admitting how he cheated on his girl and then make it public. That would have gotten you killed not just traded.

Used to be you respected the office of the commissioner of the league. Kennisaw Mountain Landis, Pete Rozelle and David Stern were icons. Now coaches and players wear Roger Goodell clown shirts.

Do we really need to know which player is gay and which isn't?

Who everyone is dating?

Do we need a red carpet at all-star games?

Do we need 9-hour pregame shows before the Super Bowl?

Are we really giving a penalty for horns down now? Are we that soft?

And do we really think that if we call it the Red River Shootout that we're promoting violence? Really?

Do we ever need to hear one more Lavar Ball thought again? For God's sake the man's an idiot. Why do we give him a national platform?

Now don't get me wrong. There is some good that comes from today's tell-all athlete. When Kobe threw Shaq under the bus after Kobe was caught cheating in Colorado, Shaq won the title with the Heat and came up with one of the great rap lines of all time. "Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes." Classic.

I've also kind of enjoyed the off-season back and forth between Alex Bregman and Trevor (Tyler) Bauer. They don't like each other. Can't wait until they face each other for the first time this year. But I'm sure the media will make such a big deal out of it that they'll hug before the game and have a press conference about how much they respect each other. The media ruins everything.

Back in the day Bregman would have taken a 96 mile an hour fastball to the back and the benches would clear and we'd have a good old fashioned brouhaha. That's how men settled stuff back then. Sure you might throw it a little high and maybe kill him but that's the risk you took. That's what men did.

What's more fun, a press conference or a bench clearing brawl? Not even close.

I know I must sound like the "get off my lawn guy." Maybe I am. I don't shave with a Gillette razor. I use Schick.

Now give me back my sports without all this drama.

And get off my lawn.

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