NHL Cautious About Further Expansion and Teams Moving

MONTREAL — The NHL is being cautious about further expansion and wants to keep current franchises where they are, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday.

Answering questions at a Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal luncheon celebrating the NHL’s 100th anniversary, Commissioner Bettman said the NHL was assimilating its 31st team, the Vegas Golden Knights, which began play this season, and had 16 teams in the Eastern Conference, 15 in the Western Conference.

“We’re not going to expand just to satisfy notions of symmetry,” the Commissioner said. “[We’re] being very careful, very cautious. We’ll be very deliberate if we go through another expansion process, but I can’t tell you today that that’s something we’re going to run off and do. If the circumstances dictate consideration of another expansion team or opportunity, then that’s something that the [Board of Governors] will ultimately look at at the time.”

In a press conference afterward, Commissioner Bettman was asked about interest in the NHL from Houston and Quebec City, and teams looking for new arenas such as the Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators.

“It’s great to know that there are lots of places that are interested in having a franchise that don’t, but we’re not running around actively soliciting interest,” the Commissioner said. “We listen to whoever wants to come to talk to us, and we’re aware of the interest. But our preference is to have our franchises right where they are, and to the extent some franchises need new facilities, we’re hoping that they can achieve that result where they are.”

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