The SHL announced this week that, due to the success of its first season, the league will expand by two teams for next season.
The new team in the East will be the Quebec Tigres, to be owned by hotel magnate Marc Delattre. The league was reportedly interested in adding another Canadian city, and Quebec reportedly impressed with the depth of its fan base and its new arena, the Centre Citadelle.
“This is a greatly joyous day for me personally and for all of Quebec,” said Delattre upon receiving the news. “I fully expect the Tigres to be the most passionately supported team in the league. I hope we will soon be celebrating a championship.”
Joining the fray out West: the Seattle Sailors, which will be owned by Gary Blum, founder of a cybersecurity firm. In addition to being a wealthy market, the league was reportedly interested in establishing a beachhead on the West Coast to serve as a bridge between the Anchorage Igloos and the league’s Midwestern cities.
“This decision is a victory for Seattle and the entire Pacific Northwest,” said Blum. “On behalf of the Sailors organization, I look forward to building a top-notch organization that will make our fans proud. We look forward to showing that Seattle is a hockey city!”
A dozen cities applied for consideration in this round of expansion; league officials visited all of them before making their decision. Quebec won out in the East over fellow finalists Baltimore and Boston, while Seattle got the nod over Chicago and Milwaukee in the West.
Both Quebec and Seattle have been mentioned as potential future NHL expansion cities, although the league indicated that this was not a consideration in the selection. “We wanted the cities that made the most sense for us,” said SHL spokesman Calvin Leslie. “We’re not interested in starting a turf war with the NHL.”
The league has not yet announced its plans for the expansion draft, or where the Tigres and Sailors will fall in the entry draft order.