Prime Minister of Canada Even Commented on Denied Expansion Application

Published on June 4th, 2024 2:41 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The story of the Vancouver Canucks franchise start. It was the mid 1960s, and the NHL was looking to partake in their first major expansion.

The league had just six teams - the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens, the Chicago Black Hawks, the New York Rangers, the Detroit Red Wings and the Boston Bruins.

The league was looking to double to 12 teams, and Vancouver seemed to be one of the front-runners.

The city was building a new arena - the Pacific Coliseum - and Canada is obviously a hotbed for hockey. A team in Vancouver would allow the NHL to have three Canadian teams.

It seemed like Vancouver would surely have a franchise for the 1967-68 NHL season.


There was shock when the Vancouver group, led by Cyrus McLean, had their application rejected.

Instead, the six new teams were the Los Angeles Kings, the Minnesota North Stars, the Oakland Seals, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues.

The Oakland selection was particularly perplexing to Canadians - how could the NHL put two new teams in California but not a team in Vancouver?


Canadian Prime Minister commented on the matter, saying that "all Canadians will regret" seeing Vancouver left out of NHL expansion.


So what exactly happened?

Some speculate that Toronto and Montreal didn't want to share CBC revenues with another Canadian club, so they had the NHL axe Vancouver from consideration for an expansion team.

Others believe that a failed business deal between one of the members of the Vancouver bid and the owners of either the Maple Leafs or Canadiens led to their bid being scuttled.


In the end, the outrage was short-lived, as the Canucks received an expansion team in time for the 1970 season.

The Oakland Seals (eventually the California Golden Seals) never caught on and eventually moved to Cleveland, where they would fold after a couple of seasons.

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