The NHL Isn’t Expanding, Not Yet Anyway


The NHL could add teams eventually.

The National Hockey League is officially not considering expansion. At least that is the company line. But Ryan Smith, the owner of the National Basketball Association’s Utah Jazz wants to put an NHL team in Salt Lake City. There is a developer in Alpharetta, Georgia that wants to build an arena-village with an NHL team playing in the arena which would be the centerpiece of the development. Québec City backers have kept in touch with Commissioner Gary Bettman and the Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. And there are others who may want to eventually ice a team in the league. But again, the NHL has not set up an expansion committee but that could be done on a moment’s notice.

Bettman basically said if you have the cash, talk to us. “If somebody wants to express interest and tell us they want an expansion team, we’ll talk to them, as we’ve talked to people in Houston, in Atlanta, in Cincinnati, Kansas City. There seems to be an increasing and vibrant expression of interest in having an NHL team in places where there aren’t. We have no formal expansion process set up. We’re not envisioning what we did in prior times. We’re listening to the expressions of interest.” Omaha, Nebraska interests may want in also. Bettman did note that Utah’s level of interest has been the strongest with support from the state’s governor and legislators. The most important aspect for a franchise is having elected officials who negotiate the terms of available subsidies that go into the funding of a venue. Atlanta has lost two NHL franchises. Kansas City had an NHL team for two years between 1974 and 1976. Houston had a World Hockey Association franchise that folded before the NHL-WHA “expansion”. Cincinnati backers did not have the money to join the NHL in 1979.

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Utah Governor Spencer Cox is on board with going after an NHL team in Salt Lake City