NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had preliminary discussions about the potential viability of a team in Houston, according to a report by Katie Strang of The Athletic.
Bettman recently met with Tilman Fertitta, owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, at NHL headquarters in New York, according to Strang.
“We’re not relocating any clubs right now,” Bettman said, while declining to comment on the meeting. But when asked about the future potential of the city, he responded: “If Houston were to express an interest in having an NHL franchise, under the right circumstances, it’s something we might want to consider.”
Fertitta, a Texas businessman who is sole owner of Landry’s, Inc., a lucrative restaurant corporation in the U.S., purchased the Rockets this past September for a reported $2.2 billion.
During his introductory press conference as Rockets owner, Fertitta relayed his interest in bringing an NHL franchise to the city and envisioned it sharing the Toyota Center with the basketball club.
“I would put an NHL team here tomorrow, but this one has got to work,” said Fertitta. “Would I love to have the other dates in the building, do I want to see Toyota Center filled up 300 nights a year, definitely. So we’ll do whatever we can do, but whatever we do is going to make sense. But yes, will we be aggressive? Yes. That’s my nature.”
The NHL expanded to 31 teams this season, with the Vegas Golden Knights taking the ice as an expansion franchise. Seattle and Quebec City are both options for potential franchises should the NHL wish to expand further — or relocate an existing team.