Thirty two teams sounds about right to Bettman.
For hockey consumers living in Québec City, Houston or even Hartford hoping the National Hockey League brings a team to town, there is some bad news. The commissioner Gary Bettman said that expansion is not on the table and that the league is happy with its 32 locations. That doesn’t mean that those areas are not out of the running for a team if one is forced to move and there could be a team that hits the open market, the Arizona franchise, if voters in Tempe in May say no to a hockey arena-village complex that the local franchise owner wants to build. It is not known if there is a Plan B in the Phoenix market if the arena-village proposal is turned down.
For years, Québec City proponents have been after a team but the NHL bypassed the city in its latest rounds of expansion. Québec City hosted an NHL team between 1979 and 1995 but Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut could no longer afford to keep the team in town after failing to get a 1990s state-of-the art arena and sold the team to Colorado investors who moved the franchise to Denver. In 2016, the NHL said no to a Québec City expansion team bid. Québec City has hockey fans, but there are not enough well-heeled customers because Québec City is a small market, a government town with limited corporate support. In March, 2022, Québec City politicians offered to host five Ottawa Senators games in the 2022-23 season. That idea was tabled. There seemed to have been some buzz that Houston investors were interested in getting an expansion franchise prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 but nothing has happened. In Hartford, a small group of hard-core fans still mourn the loss of the Whalers in 1997 but the NHL is not interested in going back to Connecticut.
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