PITTSBURGH – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman offered no clues on Monday during his annual Stanley Cup Final address as to the state of NHL expansion or the current odds that Las Vegas gets a franchise.
The league’s Board of Governors will meet on June 22 to make a decision on expansion. The earliest a team(s) could play would be 2017-18.
Quebec City is also in the running, but the value of the Canadian dollar weighs heavily against it at the moment.
If Vegas were added, it would have a direct impact on Pacific Division clubs such as the Sharks.
Bettman refused to “handicap” the situation but said he expected to know at least a week in advance as to what the committee’s recommendation will be.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said there are “a lot of on-going” issues related to expansion and some involve input from third parties.
“We’ve made good progress ... it hasn’t been quick progress,” Daly said.
Asked about rumors of the NFL going to Vegas and what that impact would mean to hockey, Bettman said he hasn’t even broached the topic of having two pro sports there with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or even considered such.
“If the NFL comes to Vegas at some point, so be it,” Bettman said. “We’re judging the application we have before us on the merits of that application ...”
Bettman said the thought of the NFL moving to Vegas, in his opinion, wasn’t, “anywhere close to a done deal.”
Daly added that even if there was movement by the NFL toward Vegas, it would not be seen as a “deterrent” to the NHL expanding there.
More Olympic issues. IOC President Thomas Bach and IIHF President Rene Fasel have gone on record they want to end paying the out-of-pocket expenses for NHL players to attend the Olympics.
That’s a non-starter for the NHL if they want participation of its players. The practice of subsidy has been in effect for the past five Winter Olympics.
“If they are unable to resolve the issue, I have no doubt it will have an impact on our decision,” Bettman said, adding the NHL would have to take a hard look at continued Olympic participation since its member clubs aren’t interest in putting up the “many, many millions” it would take to make up the financial gap.
Whenever there is change in the IOC leadership, Bettman said, there are always discussions of whether some sports, such as hockey, should receive subsidies.
Snider not replaced. Bettman said that former Flyers chairman Ed Snider’s spot on the 10-person executive committee and competition committee, has not been filled since his death in April.
Snider was an original member of the league’s competition committee and the only owner on it.
“He was a great owner and is terribly missed,” Bettman said.