Bettman sees expansion in the future, possibly Canada

Gary Bettman joined George Stroumboulopoulos to talk about the city of Columbus, the possibility of NHL participation in the Olympics, and potential interest in expansion.

Expansion is a hot topic in NHL circles with a rink being built and a season-ticket drive in the offing for Las Vegas, another rink being built in Quebec City, and yet another that is expected to eventually get built in Seattle.

So whenever NHL commissioner Gary Bettman takes questions from the media, it’s something he has to address.

On Sunday during the league’s All-Star Game, Sportsnet’s George Stroumboulopoulos went one-on-one with Bettman and asked the commissioner not just about expansion, but if Canada could one day end up with an eighth team.

“I believe that at some point it may be appropriate to expand,” Bettman said. “We’ve got great talent and there are lots of places, including in Canada, that would like to have a franchise. Whether or not there’s a timetable in place, the answer’s no not right now. But at some point in the future I can see some expansion somewhere.”

At the moment, Las Vegas appears to have the inside track on NHL expansion, since that city has a prospective and passionate owner in place who is looking to explore the viability of a market that hasn’t had a major pro sports franchise of any kind yet.

Stroumboulopoulos asked Bettman if he wanted a team in Sin City.

“I don’t know,” Bettman answered. “We’re getting a lot of expressions of interest. Vegas everybody thinks is a bit of a unique market and while Bill Foley asked permission to conduct a season ticket drive, he wants to see, and I suppose ultimately it would be good for us to see whether or not this dream he has is worth pursuing. If the response is good, the way he believes it will be, it will tell him he should keep pushing at us. We haven’t made any commitments.”