Gretzky's impact in Los Angeles has changed that attitude. For the first time since it absorbed the World Hockey Association in 1979, the NHL is seriously looking to expand. Within the next three months, the NHL will probably announce plans to add three teams, one of which may be situated in the western U.S. Possible sites include San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Anaheim and Seattle.
Says McNall, "No question about it, we should try to expand in the next couple of years, while Gretzky is still playing. We have the equivalent of Babe Ruth on the ice for us right now, so...."
McNall wants the NHL to strike quickly for its own good, but he also realizes that the addition of West Coast teams would make the Kings more profitable. More West Coast teams would cut the Kings' travel expenses, plus lead to stimulating local rivalries. It's a matter of success breeding success.
All it took for Los Angeles to turn the corner, and drag a reluctant NHL along with it, was a $15 million investment in a player named Gretzky. With the addition of Gretzky, the Kings have become a winning franchise, on the ice and on the bottom line.