Just because the NHL has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 teams in the Western Conference doesn’t mean that two more teams are bound to be added to the West through expansion.
That was the message from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who said today in Toronto (video below) that “you don’t expand just to fulfill somebody’s notion of symmetry. It’s a very important business decision to make, and you do it for the right reasons.”
Bettman also, once again, dismissed reports that the NHL was on the verge of adding more teams.
“The fact is, this is the most stable our franchises have ever been,” he said. “The healthiest we’ve been as a league. But we’re not looking to expand right now. No teams are relocating.”
He added: “I’m not suggesting at some point in the future we might not look at it, but we’re not ready to do it now. And I don’t want to build up anybody’s expectations, because that’s not fair to people in a community that want to have a franchise.”
Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec City and Toronto have all been pegged as future expansion/relocation markets, with the Panthers, Hurricanes, and Coyotes coming up in relocation speculation.