New NHL teams? League downplays reports
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, August 27, 2014 11:51AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 27, 2014 6:01PM EDT
NHL training camps may not open for another couple of weeks, but the hockey world is abuzz with rumours that the league will expand to four markets within the next three years.
The suggestion of a looming expansion was first offered up in the Vancouver Province late Tuesday, with a report that commissioner Gary Bettman’s long-standing aversion to adding more teams appears to be waning.
Then Sports Business News publisher Howard Bloom took to Twitter to suggest that teams will be added in four markets by 2017: Quebec City, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Toronto.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly attempted to shoot down the rumours Wednesday, saying that there is “nothing new to report on this subject.”
But Bloom says that “expansion is too enticing an opportunity for the owners to simply ignore.”
The league would rake in between $1.4 billion and $1.6 billion in expansion fees, which are not shared with the players, Bloom told CTV News Channel on Wednesday afternoon. That adds up to a $50 million cash injection for each team. The way players benefit from expansion, he noted, is that it would create NHL jobs for about 100 more of them.
“It represents a cash windfall for both the owners and the players,” Bloom said.
“Let’s remember at the end of the day, the National Hockey League is a billion-dollar business. They are in the business of making money, and expansion is a tremendous opportunity to accomplish their goals.”
The Province reported that an agreement to bring a team to Las Vegas is essentially “a done deal,” and Bloom noted that MGM has already broken ground on a new arena.
The city wants to have a major league sports team, he said, but various factors preclude the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball from the area, including the desert heat and the fact that it is a gambling town.
Some Canadian fans may wonder why the league simply doesn’t move an underperforming team. After years of rumours and concerns about the Phoenix Coyotes, that franchise appears to have found some stability and looks like it’s staying put. The Florida Panthers could be moved, Bloom said, but the league doesn’t appear to be planning for that scenario.
Whatever plan takes shape, any expansion would require approval from the NHL’s board of governors.
The league is currently made up of 30 teams: 16 in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the Western Conference. Expansion to cities such as Las Vegas or Seattle would help correct that imbalance.