The NHL isn’t looking to expand at this time, but when the subject comes up, Quebec City and Seattle are often mentioned.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was recently asked about the subject and he was willing to go into some detail about each city’s situation. Between the two, Bettman acknowledged that he typically gets “far more” inquiries about Seattle than Quebec City. That’s in part because the current NHL makeup features 16 Eastern Conference and 14 Western Conference teams, which lends itself to expansion in the west.
“Which, by definition, creates a problem, at least in the question for Quebec City,” Bettman said, per NESN. “And I say, and I’ll say it again, we don’t expand just for purposes of symmetry.”
In fact, right now Seattle isn’t a viable expansion option even though Bettman likes the city’s major junior tradition and the possibility of a Seattle-Vancouver Canucks’ rivalry.
“The threshold issue, before we can really seriously consider Seattle, would be whether or not there’s a building coming out of the ground,” Bettman explained. “Key Arena is inadequate, and Chris Hansen, who’s the one controls the rights to build a building, is focused on an NBA team. So, until the building issue is one that we can understand better and be told that there’s a realistic possibility of the building coming out of the ground anytime soon, that’s not something that we can seriously consider.”
The commissioner also acknowledge that a new MGM arena capable of seating 20,000 recently broke ground in Las Vegas. MGM chairman and CEO Jim Murren said the arena is capable of making money without a home team, but they are interested in having an NHL or NBA franchise there when the arena’s ready, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Bettman was noncommittal on the subject and specified that the league hasn’t “formally accepted or rejected” Las Vegas as an option for any potential expansion.