NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly gave a wide-ranging presser Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas, taking media questions mostly around the expansion process, which the league's board of governor's has officially decided to open this summer.
Opening the process only means that they will accept formal applications now -- and not, as they repeatedly stressed, that they will definitely add teams, nor that they know how many teams they'll add if and when they do expand.
But they are expanding.
A few pertinent notes from Daly and Bettman's comments:
- Officially they are accepting applications in a window this July and August.
- If the NHL expands -- they keep stressing IF, IF, IF -- the earliest a team could begin play is likely 2017-18.
- They wouldn't really talk expansion fees, but Bettman made a classic Bettman remark that the figure would have to at least "begin with 5" -- i.e. in the $500 million (U.S.) range.
- Daly said there isn't "any concern about talent dilution at all," noting that teams are already deep and running four lines and three defensive pairs.
- They are impressed with the season-ticket effort in Las Vegas, but that doesn't mean the Vegas effort by Bill Foley puts him in the driver's seat. However repeat expressions of interest from Vegas, Seattle and periodic expressions of interest from other markets (Portland, Milwaukee, Kansas City) has swayed the league board of governors to open the process.
Ren Lavoie immediately reported that Quebec will be making a bid, with telecom giant Quebecor doing the bidding.
As always, the leaders were cagey with the couched language, but you can bet your Vegas chips that expansion is coming, and soon.