The NHL Board of Governors met again on Wednesday with the discussion surrounding the league’s expansion in 2017-18. They closed the meetings with the vote in favour of the NHL expanding the league to 31 teams adding a franchise in Las Vegas – a long anticipated decision.
Vegas, we have lift-off. The NHL's board of governors meeting has ended.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 22, 2016
The result came after a few hours of deliberation between the NHL’s Board of Governors and the league’s executive committee. Those involved in the meeting also discussed the salary cap for next season, the majority ownership of the New York Islanders and the World Cup.
But it was the decision to add a Las Vegas franchise to the league – which will be added for the 2017-18 season and help to celebrate the league’s centennial year in the fall of 2017.
“We think this is a tremendous opportunity – not just for the city – but for the league as well,” said Gary Bettman in a press conference following the meeting. “This may be the most covered expansion in our history.”
Bettman also discussed the excitement surrounding the Las Vegas market and how quickly they will become competitive with the expansion process.
The league’s commissioner also alluded to the expansion application of Quebec City. He said that there was no doubt in the city, the fans or the Quebecor ownership group that presented the application. In fact, the reasoning behind the deferral were beyond the control of the league or the proposed ownership group – including the value of the Canadian dollar, geographical imbalance in the league (with 16 teams already in the Eastern Conference) and the fact that the league wants incoming teams to be put in a good position to succeed sooner rather than later.
Bettman said no doubt about ownership or arena in Quebec. First rate application, he said. Decision to defer is based over CDN $
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 22, 2016
Bruins’ owner and head of the Board of Governors, Jeremy Jacobs, echoed Bettman in saying that Quebec is a viable candidate for future expansion but that the time was just not right to bring in another franchise.
With Las Vegas coming in as the 31st team in the NHL, it closes the eighth expansion process in the league’s history. The team remains nameless for the time being, but speculation remains rampant that it could fall under the same name as the company that ran the expansion bid – Black Knight Sports and Entertainment.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.