NHL Commish: Expansion? We Don't Need No Stinking Expansion
Nothing like trying to put a shipload of horses back in the barn.
However, veteran cat-herder Gary Bettman is doing his best.
After his own deputy lit the match that sparked the latest firestorm about NHL expansion to Seattle and who knows where else, the NHL Commish has been failing eloquently in his attempts to convince the hockey public that what will happen eventually isn't happening imminently.
Like the league office itself thought it would.
Here's his latest attempt to pull the brake handle on this runaway train:
MLB survived quite nicely for years with 16 teams in the American League and 14 in the National League, so Bettman has logical cover for that rationale. The NHL has never been more popular, so he's on solid ground there.
Frankly, the only reason expansion hasn't happened is that the desired destinations are still missing a piece or two:
- Seattle doesn't have an arena deal in place;
- Portland is a logical choice, but Paul Allen has yet to express interest in anything other than an existing team;
- Las Vegas appears to have more glitz than substance;
- Québec City isn't in the West, and no existing Eastern Division team wants to shift divisions; and
- Toronto's suburb of Markham voted down an arena proposal.
While it only takes a hint of rumor for the latter possibility to sell papers in TO, the topic still arises:
As if the Kings and Ducks were hurting each other's bottom line. Non-starter.
And if his argument truly had merit, what's he doing hailing the Islanders' move closer to the Rangers and Devils?
Don't think this dude is dumb, though. He's already parlayed the winds of speculation into a $400million expansion fee tornado. From the sounds of it, the Commish believes there's more dosh to tap. He's probably right. Ever since the lockout, all signs have indicated that $500million is his target, and he's well on his way to reaching it.
Seattle remains the linchpin. The NHL seems willing to wait.
Just know that whenever the Emerald City sorts out an arena deal, the NHL will pick up the conversation Bill Daley was having with that Seattle businessman's junket earlier this year. Quickly.