Saturday, February 1, 2014

Relocation Is The Way To Go

The Hartford Whalers had more success after moving south to
Raleigh and becoming the Carolina Hurricanes
Yesterday, I posted about how poorly expansion teams have done in winning championships over the last 30 years.  There have been 24 expansion teams since 1982 and just 8 championships among them.  Since 1980, there have been 19 franchises that relocated to new locales.  And they've had much better success.  In most cases, better success than in their old digs.

Here are your relocation teams by each league:


America's Pastime has some of the most celebrated relocated teams.  The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.  The New York Giants moved to San Francisco.  Heck, prior to 1903 the New York Yankees were the Baltimore Orioles.

However, since 1980 only the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) have moved.  The Expos played in just one postseason.  Now so have the Nationals.

One relocation.  No titles.


The NFL has actually had quite a few relocations.  In 1982, the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles.  In 1995, the Raiders then moved back to Oakland.  In that time, the Los Angeles Raiders won one Super Bowl.  Two years later, the Baltimore Colts skipped town to Indianapolis.  Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl title.  In 1988, the St. Louis Cardinals moved to Phoenix and eventually became the Arizona Cardinals.  The Cards have been to one Super Bowl but yet to have win one.

St. Louis didn't go that long without a team.  The Los Angeles Rams moved in 1995 and became the St. Louis Rams.  Those Rams would win a Super Bowl in the 1999 season.  A year later, the Cleveland Browns moved and became the Baltimore Ravens.  The Ravens have won two Super Bowls since the move.  Cleveland, who got a new team and kept the old franchise's history, still sits with zero Super Bowls.

One year after that, the Houston Oilers moved to Memphis and then to Nashville to now be called the Tennessee Titans.

Pretty interesting stuff.  Especially when you think during that time Baltimore, St. Louis and Oakland all lost teams and then gained a new relocated team.  Add in that the cities of Houston and Cleveland received expansion teams when their NFL franchises left and we only have Los Angeles sitting empty handed during the whole process.

Considering that the four expansion teams the NFL created over that time have combined to win zero Super Bowls in just one appearance ... plus the fact that Baltimore and St. Louis won Super Bowls not too long after relocating (not to mention that Tennessee and Oakland went to Super Bowls in a quick fashion) ... and getting someone to move into town is better than getting an old team.

Six relocations.  Five titles.
In 1995, LA lost the Rams to St. Louis.  St. Louis also
gained a Vince Lombardi trophy


There are a bunch in the NBA.  Obviously the NBA has historically had some big time relocated franchises.  The Los Angeles Lakers were once a dynasty in Minneapolis.  The Detroit Pistons once called Fort Wayne home.  The San Antonio Spurs were once the Dallas Chaparrals.   Since 1980, the NBA has been very busy with relocation.

Heck, before my little experiment begins (1980), the NBA came off a ton of movement.  In 1977, the NBA merged with the ABA and the New York Nets moved to New Jersey.  In 1978, the Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego (Clippers).  And in 1979 the New Orleans Jazz moved to Utah.

The first move that fits in my mold is the 1984 move of the Los Angeles Clippers from San Diego.  Obvious to most sports fans, the golden age of the Clippers is currently happening.  The next season, the Kansas City Kings moved to California and became the Sacramento Kings.  Those Kings nearly left for Seattle a year ago.  The Clippers and Kings have been two of the most hard-luck franchises in the NBA since their additions to the NBA.

It was 16 years before the next move.  The relatively new Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis.  The Memphis Grizzlies have yet to win an NBA title.  Neither has the New Orleans Pelicans.  The Pelicans were once the Charlotte Hornets whose controversial move to New Orleans in 2002 netted the Queen City a quick second expansion team.  [Note that I am not considering the New Orleans Hornets relocation to Oklahoma City for two seasons after Hurricane Katrina a true relocation].

In 2008 ... perhaps the most controversial NBA move of them all ... the Seattle SuperSonics moved and became the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Thunder are currently among the best teams in the NBA, but have yet to win a title.  Finally, two years ago New Jersey lost their team and became the Brooklyn Nets.

The NBA bucks the trend.  Seven relocations.  Zero titles.


The NHL spent the 1980s and 1990s watching teams move.  In 1980, the Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary.  The Calgary Flames have won a Stanley Cup and have one of my favorite logos.  Atlanta woujld gain an expansion team two decades later.  Two years later, the Colorado Rockies (yep, a hockey club) moved east and became the New Jersey Devils.  The Devils have won three Stanley Cups.

Relocation would happen again in 1993.  The Minnesota North Stars moved south and became the Dallas Stars.  The Stars would win one Cup and Minnesota, like Atlanta, would eventually gain an expansion team.  Two years later, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche.  The Aves have won two Cups.  The next season, the Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes.  The Winnipeg Jets would be reborn when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Manitoba in 2011.

In 1997, the Hartford Whalers ... the Whale ... moved to Raleigh and became the Carolina Hurricanes.  The Canes have a Stanley Cup title since then.

Seven relocations.  Eight Cups.  Not bad

So, shockingly there have been 21 teams relocated since 1980.  Among them, 13 titles.

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