It appears as if both Las Vegas and Quebec City are going deep into the NHL expansion process.
Friday marked a big day in that regard, as Quebecor confirmed that they’re in “Phase III” while Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper reports that Vegas accomplished the same task.
These reports are also backed up by TVA’s L.A. Lariviere.
It’s pretty much impossible to make “How many phases are there” type jokes – some prefer Austin Powers references, others might throw in “American Werewolf in London” – but the Associated Press indicates that this might be the final step.
A person familiar with the process told The Associated Press that the third stage involves the NHL reviewing the company’s business plan and revenue projections. If approved, the league would be in a position to award an expansion franchise as early as next month, the person added.
In case you skimmed that paragraph too quickly, let’s underline it: the league could award one or both cities an expansion franchise as early as September.
Wild stuff, right?
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The drive to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas one way or another has been a big story for some time, yet it only makes sense that the subject is cropping up when much of the hockey world is fighting off sunburns and/or hangovers in Sin City as we speak.
While the process – which would likely come via expansion – is creeping along slowly, players seem intrigued by the idea … and maybe a little frightened.
For one thing, Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd pointed to the obvious weather advantages, as the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno reports.
“You talk to any human, whether they play hockey or not, they’d rather go to work in shorts and a T-shirt than a parka,” Ladd said.
(One almost wonders if Jets fans collectively cringed at that commentary, although at least he was discussing parkas and not parks.)
The Las Vegas Review-Journal collected a few players’ thoughts on the matter (from Carey Price praising a “glamour city” to Jonathan Toews’ typically serious approach), including Florida Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad discussing the rather obvious about temptations.
“I think there are a lot of places where you can get in trouble,” Ekblad said. “We’re professionals. I think we can learn to adapt to working and living in a place like Las Vegas.”
Honestly, Ekblad’s teammate Roberto Luongo probably said it best, though:
Even if Vegas does get a team, it will take a while. It sounds like quite a few players would be more than fine – though a little apprehensive – about such a concept.
Bill Foley’s bid to land an NHL franchise in Las Vegas is expected to take another step next month.
Foley, the chairman of Fidelity National Financial, a Florida-based company that provides title insurance and mortgage services, is teaming up with former Sacramento Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof in an effort to land an NHL franchise in Sin City.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the league told Foley a minimum 10,000 season ticket commitments is necessary.
“If we sell the 10,000 tickets, we’ll be amazed if we don’t get a franchise,” Foley said. “It would be a shock.”
Their goal is to have an NHL club playing in the $375 million arena being built by MGM Resorts and Anschutz Entertainment Group behind New York-New York and next to Monte Carlo by the 2016-17 season.
Foley’s ticket drive begins Feb. 10.
In an interview with HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman, William Foley – the potential owner of an NHL team in Las Vegas – stated his preference for naming the team the “Black Knights.”
While it evokes card games and casinos, Foley explained that the title would be a military tribute of sorts, as Friedman shares. For those who don’t like the idea, the good news is that there would also be a contest for the name:
Perhaps just as interesting: Wayne Gretzky may or may not be involved in the process. Foley described “The Great One” as an unofficial adviser of sorts, while Sportsnet’s John Shannon confirms that Gretzky introduced Foley to business partners.
It’s all interesting stuff, so check it out here.
Dan Patrick believes the NHL will be in Las Vegas by 2016.
Patrick’s comments are in addition to a story which appeared in the Vancouver Province on Tuesday.
Speaking on his radio show, the Football Night in America host says the Arizona Coyotes or Carolina Hurricanes could relocate. Patrick added that Vegas and Seattle could also be targets for expansion franchises should relocation not occur.
Patrick’s comments come despite the league saying Wednesday that there is nothing imminent on the expansion front.
So if there’s nothing new on the expansion front, perhaps Patrick is onto something in terms of relocation? Only time will tell.