In recent years the National Hockey League has seen tremendous growth as it has rapidly expanded into two new markets with the introduction of new expansion franchises in the form of the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken. The recent addition of the Kraken brought us to a nice even number of teams at 32, but in spite of that there remains constant speculation around which city could be the next to receive an NHL franchise.
While everyone has their own thoughts about which city would make for the best new hockey market, the man that many consider to be the greatest to ever play the game has shared his thoughts on the matter. Gretzky was asked which cities he felt deserved an NHL franchise the most and the cities he named, as well as the order in which he named them, was very interesting to say the least.
"I haven’t thought about it a whole lot, but just looking at it from a practical point of view, the three that I would say: I think Kansas City because the Chiefs and Royals do so well. I think the city of Houston because the Stars have helped grow hockey down there. The third one that’s most obvious is Quebec City. There is nothing like hockey in the province of Quebec," admitted Gretzky as per Bleacher Report.
There have long been murmurs about both Kansas City and Houston as far as the NHL is concerned so it comes as little surprise to see Gretzky name them here. The addition of those two markets would bring the league to 34 teams, a number the NHL could still likely manage. The fact that Gretzky included Quebec City at the very end of his list however may suggest that this is more wishful thinking on his part than anything realistic. In spite of the fact that Quebec City built a new arena, the NHL never made the move to bring the Nordiques back to that city.
Gretzky admitted as much as well, stating that he had no insider knowledge on this topic but was more so speaking from a personal point of view.
"I have no knowledge of this, but those are the ones I’m interested in," said The Great One.