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Bettman: Winnipeg and Quebec City first in line for expansion

May 29, 2010, 12:40 AM EDT

While Gary Bettman’s state of the league/Stanley Cup press conference covered a lot of topics that we’ve covered here today, an interesting topic that was touched on was about what the league plans to do should expansion or relocation come up in discussions.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expressed interest in seeing teams return to Winnipeg and Quebec City before another one ever comes to Southern Ontario. And he regrets allowing the Jets and Nordiques to move.

“I’d like to try and fix something that I wish might not have happened in the first place,” he said Friday during his annual state-of-the-league address prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. “Not unlike what we did in Minnesota.”

The reclaim-to-glory plan worked well with the Wild in Minnesota because, well, Minnesota is the state of hockey and the team left town because Norm Green was kind of a jerk. As for the whole deal with Winnipeg, Bettman confirmed David Thomson and True North submitted an offer for the Phoenix Coyotes and elaborated a little on how that would break down.

“They are very comfortable with the process,” he said. “They understood that the likelihood was that the team was going to be remaining in Phoenix. They wanted us to know of their interest and they have told us that they are prepared to be patient.”

He’s reluctant to say how long it will be before the NHL returns to Winnipeg.

“I’m not going to put a timeline on it because I do not want to raise expectations,” Bettman said. “The interest is clear and bona fide. It’s gratifying.”

In other words, Bettman would like for them to wait until expansion, but depending on how things go in Phoenix, they may not have to wait that long.

  1. The Dude - May 29, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    Expansion??? This guy truly is an idiot. There are too many teams that need to be moved or contracted first. How about this… move or contract the following teams… Florida, Tampa, Carolina, Dallas, Phoenix, Atlanta, Columbus, and Nashville. When all that happens the league may no longer be a joke.

  2. Tampa Flyers Fan - May 29, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    Expansion is what got the NHL in the mess that is in now. The league couldn’t make money on its product so it expanded and made money through expansion fees. Just like a ponzi scheme, you eventually run out of new members to join and the whole thing collapses on itself. Hockey is a great sport but it will never get mass appeal in the U.S. My lord, the WNBA and Poker get higher TV ratings. How much more evidence does the league need? Relocate 2 teams (Phoenix & Florida) to Canada and contract 4 teams (Atlanta, Columbus, Nashville, & the Islanders) to form a 26 team league, play a 70 game season from December through March and have the finals be over by May 15, so you are not competing with inter-league play and the NBA Finals.

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