Bettman: No timetable or guarantee of expansion

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After three phases of due diligence the NHL isn’t ready to put a timetable on the expansion process or guarantee that the league will add teams at all.

That was the major takeaway from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s press conference following the executive committee’s meeting with Quebecor and Bill Foley to discuss their bids to bring the NHL to Quebec City and Las Vegas respectively.

“We have work to do,” Bettman said. “The committee is going to have to get together at least one time, if not more, and ultimately begin deliberations. There are a lot of issues and questions that are going to have to be answered before any decision can be made.”

He countered the idea that the NHL is shooting for the new teams to debut in 2017, insisting instead that simply represents the earliest possible date for expansion. He did confirm though that the expansion fee would “start with a five,” as in at least $500 million.

Bettman also met with the Board of Governors this afternoon and Avery Schenfeld, who is a chief economist at CIBC, talked to them about the Canadian Dollar, which currently sits at about 74.5 cents American. Schenfeld advised them that people making predictions about what the dollar will do “make weatherman look good.”

Is the weakened Canadian dollar ultimately concern when it comes to the league as a whole or the Quebec City bid though?

“It’s the reality that we live with,” Bettman said. “In my two-decades-plus of doing this, I’ve seen the Canadian dollar lower and I’ve seen it over par. So it’s just something we deal with and the system takes account for it. It’s not something that people are concerned about on a daily basis.”

It’s worth adding that in order for the league to expand, three-quarters of the Board of Governors would have to approve the move. So if the executive committee is split when it comes to making a recommendation, then it’s unlikely that the board would vote to expand.

On another subject, Bettman touched on 3-on-3 overtime. Based on the preseason games thus far, 77% of overtime periods have resulted in a goal and the average end time is 2:49 minutes into OT.

You can listen to the full audio of the press conference here.

Related:

Vegas group makes expansion pitch, fields ‘a lot of really good questions’

Quebec City’s NHL bid has a former Canadian prime minister on its side