NHL awards 32nd expansion franchise to Niagara

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*Disclaimer: This article is from The Brock Press’ 2018 satire publication, which followed the theme of ‘fake news’ meant to bring humour to our readers. All quotes are attributed to made up characters.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has announced that the St. Catharines/Niagara joint expansion bid for the 32nd NHL franchise has been approved, beating out competing bids from Seattle and Quebec City. While this may have come as a bit of a surprise to the hockey world, especially since Seattle’s season ticket drive went historically well and Quebec City has the Videotron Centre ready to host a Nordiques revival,  Bettman knew where the right place for NHL hockey was.

“I could not be more excited,” said a loyal Niagara sports fan.

“I have no doubt that we are ready,” said another avid sports fan from St. Catharines.

As for what the new team will be called, the team is currently holding a fan voting contest to determine the moniker for the upcoming NHL teams. The final two, as voting is coming to a close, are the “Niagara Ice Lions” and the “Niagara River Dogs”.

“To be honest, the names just came to me,” said a third-year Laurentian Sport Administration student behind the marketing plan for the new team. “I woke up one day and for some reason, these names just were stuck in my head. They are completely a product of my brain.”

The yet-to-be named team has quickly gone to work from a hockey operations standpoint, with Kyle Dubas not even off his Megabus from Toronto before being named General Manager. Dubas has yet to comment on the validity of rumours indicating that the Niagara NHL team has been offering multiple first-round picks, unlimited Clifton Hill passes, exclusive front-of-the-line entries to L3, and lifetime supplies of Beechwood Donuts to the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues in return for Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Strome and Alex Pietrangelo, respectively.

With a new NHL team in the region, there were also some who started to raise the issue of a farm team playing in the nearby AHL. In his introductory press conference, Dubas indicated that he wished for the minor league affiliate to remain geographically close to facilitate a close relationship between the teams. The possibility of an AHL expansion to nearby Thorold was floated but there was a quick backlash on social media, with a Facebook group popping up named “Thorold — A City Being Destroyed By The Economic Influx Generated Through A Professional Hockey Team”.

Lastly, with Dubas speaking on behalf of the new management group, the team announced some special nuances to connect the franchise with the local community. Sodexo has been hired as the official team caterer and a strict diet has been implemented for all players that solely consists of chicken fingers and fries. Furthermore, custom merchandise has been revealed that will have a logo only on the back of the hat for the anticipated market wearing their hat the wrong way. To close out the press conference, there was also some speculation and teasing about a plan in the works to propose an expansion to the Zone at Brock to provide workout facilities for the players. Ultimately, it will come down to a vote, but not to worry, there’s always next year.

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