The NHL announced on Tuesday that Seattle will join the league as an expansion team in 2021.
The league has endured hits and misses since the latest era of NHL expansion began in 1991.
Seattle paid US$650 million to join this year, compared to just $45 million for San Jose in 1991.
Here’s a look at how the 10 most recent teams to enter the league have performed:
The San Jose Sharks became the league’s 22nd team, and the first to enter the NHL since four World Hockey Association clubs joined in 1979.
The team played at the Cow Palace (which had an undersized rink and often had a unique aroma from its use for rodeos and other livestock events) just outside San Francisco for the first two years, and lost an NHL-record 72 games in 1992-93. But the Sharks turned it around the next season, their first in playing at their new arena in San Jose, when they made the playoffs and stunned the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings in the opening round.
For the most part, the Sharks have been a strong franchise on and off the ice, though success in the playoffs has been elusive outside of a run to the Stanley Cup final in 2016.
The Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning began play after beating out Miami and Hamilton for expansion franchises.
The Senators played in the junior-size Ottawa Civic Centre until the then-Palladium opened in distant Kanata in 1996 and had typical expansion struggles, losing 70 times in their first season. The Senators ran into major financial problems before Eugene Melnyk purchased them out of bankruptcy in 2003. Ottawa was one of the most consistent franchises in the NHL in the early part of the century, advancing to the Stanley Cup final in 2007. But the club has endured a string of negative headlines in the past two years, with a social-media campaign calling for Melnyk’s removal emerging last season. A plan to build a new downtown rink is in jeopardy after Melnyk filed a US$700-million lawsuit against business partners.
The Lightning, founded by a group fronted by Phil Esposito, played at two buildings widely considered poor for hockey before moving into what is now Amalie Arena in 1996. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004 and has thrived since Jeffrey Vinik purchased the club in 2010. Under Vinik, the team has three Eastern Conference final appearances and one Stanley Cup runner-up finish.
The NHL welcomed big ownership names into the fold with Blockbuster Video magnate Wayne Huizenga’s Florida Panthers and the Walt Disney Company’s Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
The Panthers came close to the playoffs the first two years and went to the Stanley Cup final in 1996 as fans developed a tradition of throwing rats onto the ice after Scott Mellanby killed a rat on the loose by shooting it against a dressing-room wall. But since then, the team hasn’t won a playoff series. The Panthers moved from Miami to Sunrise, Fla., a 45-minute drive from the heart of the big city, in 1998 and have been plagued by attendance woes.
The Ducks got their name from a hit movie. Disney sold the team to Henry and Susan Samueli in 2005 and they changed the name to Ducks from Mighty Ducks. The new owners also brought in Brian Burke to run the club and he took it to two Stanley Cup finals, winning in 2007. While the Ducks haven’t been back to the final since then, they have missed the playoffs just once during that stretch.
The Nashville Predators brought the NHL to 27 teams.
Nashville didn’t qualify for the playoffs until its sixth season and the club flirted with moving to Hamilton as former Research In Motion executive Jim Balsillie eyed the franchise. Ultimately, a new group purchased the team from Craig Leipold, who went on to purchase a Minnesota club. The new group had problems when former part-owner William (Boots) Del Biaggio III was sentenced to eight years in jail for fraud in 2009.
But in recent years, things have improved dramatically. The Predators reached the Stanley Cup final in 2016 and earned league-wide praise for having one of the best atmospheres in the league inside and outside of the arena. David Poile has been GM of the Predators since Day 1. He is the winningest GM in NHL history.
The Atlanta Thrashers joined the league, 19 years after the Atlanta Flames bolted to Calgary.
Things started poorly, with the Thrashers drafting centre Patrik Stefan first overall in 1999. He had just 188 points in 455 games and is considered one of the biggest busts in NHL draft history.
The Thrashers reached the playoffs just once and had trouble drawing fans before being sold to True North Sports & Entertainment and moved to Winnipeg, becoming Jets 2.0 in 2011.
The Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets are welcomed into the fold.
The Wild brought the NHL back to a big hockey state after the Stars left for Dallas in 1993. The team has been relatively stable and popular in the community. The Wild, owned by Leipold since hitting the ice, have reached the playoffs the past six years.
The Blue Jackets brought pro sports to an Ohio capital dominated by Ohio State University athletics. The team hasn’t won a playoff series in its history, qualifying for the post-season just four times. The Blue Jackets are 24th in NHL attendance this season, playing to just 84.1 per cent capacity.
The Vegas Golden Knights became the first major pro sports team to call the gambling mecca home.
The team enjoyed one of the most successful expansion seasons in sports history, reaching the Stanley Cup final in front of some of the most enthusiastic fans in the league in an arena on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Canadian Press