NHL to Open Expansion Process

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Commissioner Gary Bettman is set to formally open the NHL expansion process. (Credit: Alex Busch/Staff)

After 15 years of having 30 teams in the league, the NHL is set to open its doors to, at least, one more team.

According to a report by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet in Canada, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is set to announce that the league will open an open-ended expansion process for potential bidders. The amount of teams expected to be added isn’t a set-in-stone number, but it’s likely that the team will keep an even number of teams in the league, making expansion by two more likely.

Under Bettman’s tenure as commissioner, the league has expanded from 26 teams to 30 with the additions of the Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers (since relocated to Winnipeg), Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild.

The one city that this matters to the most is Las Vegas, the site of the pending announcement. The ticket process has already begun, with over 11,000 deposits made for season tickets; an arena is near completion right on the Las Vegas strip.  It’s almost a certainty that Las Vegas will gain the first expansion team since 2000.

Other cities that could be interested in bidding for NHL expansion are Quebec City, Kansas City, Seattle, Portland and San Antonio.

There is no certainty that the NHL will expand beyond the likely location of Las Vegas, but this announcement will open the door to more locales joining the league without the need to move a team from its current city.  As far as cost for one of these expansion teams, that probably won’t be known for some time. That being said, it’s likely going to cost a pretty penny to join the growing league.

Another topic that will likely be addressed today is the report surrounding changes to the NHL’s regular season overtime rules. The new rules would see a five minute 3-on-3 overtime period before going to a shootout.