For not the first time, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been forced to address speculation that the Carolina Hurricanes could relocate.
The latest round of rumors came in the wake of news that ‘Canes owner Peter Karmanos was being sued by his three sons for defaulting on a loan worth more than $100 million.
In an interview with The News & Observer, Bettman called the lawsuit a family “squabble,” i.e. not evidence that Karmanos could no longer pay his bills.
“I don’t see the Hurricanes relocating, period,” Bettman said. “I think the Triangle is a terrific market. A good fan base has developed around the Hurricanes and I see the opportunity for continued growth for this franchise in the future.”
In November, Bettman had a similar message, saying, “I don’t think anyone needs to worry about the future of the franchise in Carolina.”
But until Karmanos sells the team (as he’s been trying to do) to an ownership group that’s committed to keeping the ‘Canes in Carolina, and/or as long as Quebec City is without a team, don’t expect this relocation speculation to go away.
And that assumes the NHL will announce expansion to Las Vegas later this month. If the league decides instead to delay, many will wonder if the situation in Carolina is partly to blame, and the speculation will only intensify.