Jeff Skinner (Karl DeBlaker/NHLI via Getty Images)
Relocation rumors have plagued the Carolina Hurricanes, most recently with some suggesting the franchise could move to Las Vegas in lieu of expansion, but commissioner Gary Bettman said the team is staying in Carolina and relocation rumors are “completely unfounded.”
An announcement on expansion is expected in less than two weeks’ time, and it’s expected that the NHL will announce it has granted Las Vegas a new franchise. But in the midst of the expansion process, rumors have surfaced that one potential course of action would see the league decide against expansion and instead move the Carolina Hurricanes, who are struggling to fill their building and rack up wins, to Nevada.
You can rest easy, though, Hurricanes fans, because commissioner Gary Bettman and Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Jr., are stomping out those rumors before they spread any further.
Speaking to the News & Observer’s Chip Alexander, Bettman acknowledged that Karmanos is looking to sell the team if he can find “the right people,” but he wanted to make sure to “take down the temperature” on rumors that have been gaining steam as the league inches closer to announcing their plans with regard to expansion.
“I don’t see the Hurricanes relocating, period,” Bettman told Alexander. “I think the Triangle is a terrific market…Peter Karmanos is a terrific owner. This franchise has never missed a beat and he has been there to support it, financially and emotionally. All this speculation is unfair to the franchise and its fans. It’s completely unfounded.”
Bettman’s comments came less than one week following Centennial Authority chairman Tom McCormick stating that Karmanos has said the team is staying in Carolina for “the long haul,” per Alexander. McCormick added that he didn’t beleive Karmanos “has any intentions of (the team) moving, and the fans shouldn’t worry about that.” Centennial Authority is the landlord for PNC Arena, the Hurricanes’ home, and the two sides have an agreement through to 2024.
As for the lawsuit facing Karmanos, brought against him by his adult sons, both Bettman and McCormick refused to comment on what was a personal matter for Karmanos and his family, and Bettman assured it has nothing to do with the league. Bettman told Alexander that the Hurricanes have continued to meet their “financial obligations” to the league.
One of the biggest issues facing the Hurricanes over the past few seasons has been a declining attendance. Since the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season, Carolina has gone from an average attendance of 17,558 to a league-worst 12,203. The precipitous drop has been paired with the Hurricanes’ on-ice struggles. However, Bettman told Alexander he believed in the way Hurricanes GM Ron Francis was building the team and suggested attendance tends to dip during rebuilding periods like the one Carolina is undergoing right now.