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USA Today conducted fascinating player poll on expansion, Olympics, more

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 12 - Finland v Russia

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 19: Ilya Kovalchuk #71 of Russia celebrates with teammates after scoring a first-period goal against Finland during the Men’s Ice Hockey Quarterfinal Playoff on Day 12 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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USA Today’s staff deserves big-time kudos for taking advantage of last week’s NHL Media Tour.

On the silly (silly-awesome) side, USA Today’s Jimmy Hascup asked players to draw their respective teams’ logos, and the results were as great as you’d probably expect. (More on that here.)

Kevin Allen, also of USA Today, sought out 31 NHLPA members to check their pulse on a variety of topics: which city would be the best candidate for expansion, which nation should be the 2018 Winter Olympics favorite if NHL players don’t go, and more.

This infographic captures some of the answers. You might be used to seeing polls go out of 100, so note that this is out of 31; it really hammers home how strong a choice Quebec City is, at least among players.

PHT has covered the winding road for Quebec, Seattle, and longer-shot candidates for expansion.

Back in August 2015, Quebec City joined Las Vegas as the cities that made it to the final stage of the expansion process. Ultimately, about a year later, Quebec City fell short; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cited the “volatility” of the Canadian dollar as a big reason why.

On the bright side, the Canadian dollar has been showing some positive movement lately; it’s currently estimated at 82 cents to the U.S. dollar. That’s a nice increase from about 74 cents back in Dec. 2015.

Naturally, the NHL didn’t set some official threshold for Quebec City to earn the right to a team, and locales like Seattle could also make sense if a 32nd team ends up becoming a more realistic possibility.

(Seattle, specifically, still has some thorny arena issues to sort out.)

Twenty-one players out of 31 polled is impressive, but expansion hopefuls are more interested in wooing the 31 owners and Bettman. It remains to be seen if, say, powerful Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs will change his mind regarding Quebec’s viability.

Either way, Allen’s poll is interesting to consider, whether you’re pondering the Stanley Cup odds from Bovada earlier today* or the fact that Russia is barely considered the Olympic favorite among players, even without NHL talent involved.

(Hot take: some civic pride probably went into those results.)

Check out Allen’s full article for more on that process, and stick with PHT over the year(s) to see if Quebec City gets its team at some point.

* - Sheesh, those Dallas Stars really do know how to “win the off-season,” don’t they?