It seems like some key NHL executives are convinced that the slogan “Vegas wants hockey” rings true enough to really push the expansion issue going forward.
Executive Bill Daly didn’t confirm that expansion will happen without a doubt, but he provided some enthusiastic details to the IMG World Congress of Sports on Wednesday, as The Post Game reports.
“The response in Las Vegas has been very impressive and certainly suggests that there is an ability to support a professional sports franchise and particularly an NHL franchise at this point in time,” Daly said. “We have a Board of Governors meeting coming up in June. We’ll obviously report on the results of the Las Vegas ticket drive and we’ll have a discussion with our ownership as to whether they want to entertain the concept of expansion; they haven’t made that decision yet. And if they want to entertain the concept of expansion, how they want to do it.”
Again, it’s clear that the league and The City of Sin are currently in the “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” stage.
Still, the fact that Daly is laying out some specifics is worth noting. He said that if expansion does happen, it would involve a new team rather than relocation. That’s probably not a shock to many, yet Daly discussing it seems to indicate there’s fire to go with all the smoke.
Just because Vegas currently seems to have Daly and Gary Bettman’s support doesn’t mean everyone’s convinced just yet.
Calgary Flames executive Brian Burke spoke of some of the hangups of putting an NHL team in Vegas,
noting the concern that “no one’s believed that transitory people become fans and buy tickets.” Even with those reservations, Burke also admitted that the ultimate call is “above his pay grade,” and those in that position seem pro-Vegas at the moment.
Again, these ownership situations can present some sudden and crucial twists, so don’t assume that a Vegas team will play host to sleep-deprived NHL opponents during the 2016-17 season just yet.