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NHLs Vegas entry needs to be bad to be good: Cox

The reality of the 31st NHL team is now upon us, with the Vegas Golden Knights set to take real shape this week with the expansion draft on Wednesday and first round of the entry draft in Chicago on Friday night. It’s the first time the NHL has expanded in 17 years, which doesn’t really explain why it’s doing so now, other than the $500 million the other 30 teams get to split among themselves.Understand this: None of this will make the NHL better to watch for you, the fan. It’ll make it a shade worse, as talent is spread a little thinner.The NHL has always been about adding teams and telling you it’s making itself better by “growing the game,” and its promotional arm has become much adept at generating that message in recent years. Twinning the arrival of Vegas this week with “exciting” new Adidas team jerseys — more merchandise to sell! — shows the skilful way the league packages revenue-enhancing manoeuvres as progress these days.Click here for NHL expansion draft unprotected listsThe personnel options available to Vegas general manager George McPhee this week, meanwhile, are interesting, although media folks intent on turning this into a momentous occasion have got a little too breathless about the entire process. We’ve had many expansion drafts before, but suddenly this one’s being packaged like a critically important event.Article Continued BelowWhy? Well, partly because the hockey media industry has changed significantly in the past five years, with the league (NHL.com) and teams now controlling a significant slice of the reports and commentary about major NHL events. Vegas has hired a seasoned Canadian journalist to spearhead the production of information and stories the Golden Knights want to generate for the Vegas community and beyond. The Dallas Stars have, too. All this comes while hockey media jobs across the continent are drying up, with many unemployed journalists going to work for NHL.com. What that means is less independent reporting, many fewer critical pieces, and more public relations-style information packaged to look like journalism. The growth of an intriguing online sports media organization — The Athletic — in Chicago, Toronto and now Detroit is the only noteworthy increase in independent reporting and subscription-based journalism.That’s all a bit depressing, but it’s reality. Factor it into what you read, hear and see. Factor it into reports this week about the new Vegas franchise.

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