NHL responds to ‘family squabble’ facing Hurricanes owner

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly provides an update on the NHL expansion situation, and says they’re not concerned about the reports that the NFL is also looking to put a franchise in Las Vegas.

Bill Daly, the National Hockey League’s deputy commissioner, responded Thursday to the $105-million lawsuit facing Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos and the questions the suit has raised about the club’s future.

In a lawsuit filed against him by his three sons, Karmanos is said to have borrowed more than $100 million from trusts promised to his sons in order to fund the Hurricanes.

“We know a lot more about what’s going on in Carolina than the average person and what’s public,” Daly told Hockey Central at Noon Thursday.

“I view the public litigation to be more along the lines of a family squabble than anything that would raise material concern for the league in and of itself. You have to understand the entire situation, and we’re obviously, on the whole, comfortable with the entire situation of what’s going on in Carolina.”

The Hurricanes, mired in the longest playoff drought of any U.S.-based NHL team, have fallen to last in the league in attendance, both in raw number (12,203 fans on average in 2015-16) and percentage (80.8 per cent capacity).

“Somebody has to be [last in attendance],” Daly reasoned. “In terms of their individual team finances and how it relates to league distributions, I’m not in a position to get into that.”

Karmanos has been seeking to sell a portion of the team to a minority owner for more than a year and has been adamant about not moving the club to Quebec City.

“Mr. Karmanos has been for some time considering whether to take on a partner,” NHL commissioner Bettman said Monday. “There’s no issue relating to the Hurricanes.”

Here are a few other quick takeaways from Daly’s radio appearance Thursday:

– The competition from other sports — i.e., the possibility of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders heading to Las Vegas — is not a factor in the NHL’s expansion process or timeline.

– “Absolutely there’s a chance there’s two teams,” Daley said, regrading expansion to Quebec City. In terms of the three desirable expansion market features — demographics, quality of ownership, arena facility — “Quebec checks off all of those boxes. They have a very impressive expansion application.”

– But: The league’s geographic balance (16 teams already in the East compared to 14 in the West), the strength of the Canadian economy, and the board’s overall appetite for expansion will also come into play.

– On the implementation of offside video review and the delays it has caused: “Once you take that step, you have to try to get it right.”

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