And let us hope the Las Vegas Flying Elvises get put in the Southeast Division with the Panthers so there's four trips a year to the desert.
The big news out west is the good folks at Harrah's Entertainment are teaming up with AEG to build a 20,000 seat arena in Las Vegas with the hopes of luring an NHL (YES!) and/or NBA franchise to the City Beautiful.
The arena is set to be built behind Bally's and Paris (the casino, not the Hilton), and is set to be done by 2010. That means the arena will be right off the strip. Don't know if anything could be sweeter than this.
"This arena is being developed with the capability of hosting an NHL or NBA franchise from day one," Timothy Leiweke, the president and chief executive of AEG, said in a statement. "We continue to have productive conversations with potential owners and are optimistic that either basketball or hockey, or both, will be played in Las Vegas when the venue opens," he said in a statement.
AEG (which stands for Anschutz Entertainment Group) not only runs the Staples Center in L.A., but it is the management company for the new Kansas City arena famous for trying to lure the Penguins west.
Right now, you have two U.S. cities that want an NHL team in Kansas City and Vegas. You also have a handful of Canadian cities that could support a team if the setting is right.
Luckily for Gary Bettman and the league, G has a solution for all the problems.
My thought: The league wisely expands by two; put one of the expansion teams in the East and send them to Canada (I think a Canadian market will support a cruddy expansion team a lot better than a midsized U.S. market.)
If the Predators aren't supported in Nashville, Boots Del Biaggio will be taking them to Kansas City. The other expansion team heads to Vegas. And, if this league is smart, they will be called the Flying Elvises (Nevada Chapter).
By splitting the two expansion teams, you would have 16 teams in each conference. It only sounds fair to me. And, it only makes sense.
The NHL needs to be in Vegas in the worst way, and they need to be the first major pro league to take the Strip by storm. Imagine the fun an NHL franchise would bring to Vegas, and imagine the fun it would bring to the NHL writers.
I'm already looking forward to Vegas being named the permanent home of the All-Star Game, and if things go right, the Stanley Cup Finals as well.
No one in America really bets on hockey anyway, so Vegas having legalized gambling isn't a big deal in this case (that's another story in the NBA. Especially now. You can't have NBA refs being able to go downstairs into their hotel's casino and dropping dimes on games. That's not cool. So, if the NBA comes to Vegas, the betting on NBA games disappears. And truthfully, the NHL would ask for that as well. Vegas would have no problem dropping NHL betting.)
-- Quick question: Where do I stay for the first game between the Panthers and Flying Elvises come fall of 2010? I'm thinking about returning to my haunts at the MGM Grand, perhaps Caesers. Hear good things about the Venetian, but don't think Ma Herald is going to pick up that tab. They would like me to do something downtown or at least Circus Circus, but that ain't happening.
-- Another plus for an NHL team in Vegas: In N Out Burger.