NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said publicly on numerous occasions that expansion isn’t something the league has seriously considered, but recent reports say otherwise.
An online sports news outlet is reporting Toronto could be part of a four-team expansion in 2017, in time for the league’s 100th anniversary.
According to The Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher, an expansion team in Las Vegas is “a done deal.”
“Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.”
The NHL continues to deny reports of expansion. The Canadian Press reports that the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly said there is “nothing new to report on this subject.”
With a team in Las Vegas “all but assured,” Gallagher also implies that talk of a Seattle expansion isn’t without merit as many potential owners — including Vancouver billionaire Victor Coleman — have shown plenty of interest.
The biggest obstacle facing Seattle is the lack of an NHL-calibre arena, as Bettman explained on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in June, explaining that “the building situation is very unsettled and frankly if there was no reasonable prospect of a building coming anytime soon.”
The addition of two teams in the Western Conference would pull it even with the 16-team Eastern Conference. However, Gallagher indicates the NHL could expand beyond only two teams, mentioning Quebec City and Kansas City.
NHL expansion – four teams added by 2017, Quebec City, Toronto, Seattle, and Las Vegas $1.4b in expansion fees
— Howard Bloom (@SportsBizNews) August 27, 2014
Quebec City is building an 18,000-seat arena on the hope an NHL team comes to town. The arena is set to open in 2015.
The league last expanded in 2000, adding the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets.
With files from Toronto staff