Gary Bettman says no NHL team for Seattle

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman insisted Seattle is not in the running to land an expansion team.

Las Vegas and Quebec City have applied for expansion

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a news conference before the NHL All-Star hockey game skills competition Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. (Mark Humphrey/The Associated Press)

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman insisted Seattle is not in the running to land an expansion team.

"If someone wanted to give us an application right now, we wouldn't take it," Bettman said Saturday at his state-of-the-league news conference.

Las Vegas and Quebec City have submitted expansion applications, but a decision whether to grant both, either or neither city an NHL franchise does not appear to be imminent.

"The process is continuing," Bettman said. "We're not ready to make a recommendation."

Bettman said a 10-owner executive committee will eventually suggest the league should add two teams, one or none.

Expansion was barely addressed at the NHL Board of Governors meeting Saturday morning after it was discussed extensively in December. Bettman bristled at a suggestion that the league is struggling to decide whether to expand.

"We're going through an orderly process," Bettman said. "This is a very important decision. A lot of things have to be considered."

Bettman acknowledged he doesn't know whether the weakening Canadian dollar will be a factor in Quebec City's bid.

Martin Tremblay, spokesman for Montreal-based communications giant, declined comment on the process. A message seeking comment was left for Michelle Kersch, spokeswoman for the Bill Foley's Black Knight Sports & Entertainment in Las Vegas.

The Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995, becoming the Colorado Avalanche. Las Vegas has never had a major pro sports team.

Seattle arena investor Chris Hansen, who has an agreement with the city and country through 2017 for a downtown arena, has been focused on getting an NBA team back. Hansen and Los Angeles businessman Victor Coleman have tried to come to an agreement on how to make an NHL-first package work in order to get a shovel in the ground to begin building a facility.

"As things stand right now, there's no prospect of an arena in greater Seattle," Bettman said.

Expensive expansions proposed

Bettman has proposed an expansion fee of $500 million, a significant jump from the $80 million fee paid by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, when the NHL last expanded to 30 teams in 2000.

The 2017-18 season would be the earliest the league would expand, and Bettman and the owners aren't feeling any pressure to make a decision.

"We're not running a 60-minute game where the clock is going to run out," he said.

The NHL and NHL Players' Association have about a year to figure out whether to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Bettman. Both parties did have a discussion with the International Ice Hockey Federation two months ago, Bettman said, leaving questions related to the cost to transport and insure the players up to the IIHF and the International Olympic Committee.

Bettman deflected questions about whether the NHL would change the way fans can vote players into the All-Star game following the fallout from John Scott, the journeyman enforcer, getting a spot in the showcase.

"We're focused on this weekend," Bettman said.

With files from CBC Sports


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