The possibility of NHL expansion has become a popular topic lately and Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher’s recent report has only added fuel to that flame.
Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.
Gallagher went on to suggest that one or more other western cities were likely to be included in the NHL’s eventual expansion plans, but it was the idea that the NHL going to Vegas is a done deal that obviously attracted the most attention.
Gonna be unreal when Las Vegas goes undefeated at home every year........ #nhl #expansion
— Strombone (@strombone1) August 27, 2014
Although the idea of an NHL team being founded in Sin City might seem like a pipe dream, the suggestion of it happening isn’t without precedence.
Back in December, TSN’s Bob McKenzie suggested that Vegas was second to only Seattle on the list of possible expansion destinations for the NHL. However, at the time he added that there “are no formal plans for expansion.”
The NHL also has established a presence in Las Vegas as the Kings have played an annual preseason game in Nevada since 1997 (with the exception of 2004 and 2012 due to the lockouts) and Vegas has hosted the league’s award show.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was noncommittal when talking about the possibility in June, but he also wasn’t dismissive.
“I know Las Vegas is an important city,” Bettman said. “Whether or not it’s a city for the NHL to put a team in is still to be determined. We have not done any investigating as to whether or not the city could support the NHL or looked at potential ownership groups. If the owners were to approve expansion, we would certainly begin looking more closely at Las Vegas and other potential markets.”
Bettman also said back in 2009 that it was only a matter of time before Vegas got a professional sports team. Whether or not its the NHL that first takes the plunge into Vegas remains to be seen.