Jeff Skinner (Karl DeBlaker/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Carolina Hurricanes relocation rumors have been abound during the off-season, but Gary Bettman has again shot down any talk that the franchise is moving. Bettman said the Hurricanes “aren’t going anywhere,” hoping to kill the rumor once and for all.
There were rumors leading up to Wednesday’s expansion announcement that, with Quebec City having its expansion bid deferred, there was a possibility the Carolina Hurricanes could potentially relocate north of the border. However, commissioner Gary Bettman said there’s no truth to that.
Speaking following the announcement of expansion to Las Vegas, Bettman was asked about the status of the Hurricanes, who have struggled to fill their arena and have been the subject of rumors for several months.
"The Carolina Hurricanes aren't going anywhere,” Bettman said, via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “They’re not going anywhere.”
Bettman’s assertion that the Hurricanes aren’t moving isn’t the first time he’s had to say as such. In fact, ahead of expansion, rumors surfaced not that the Hurricanes were moving to Quebec City, but that they would actually be shifted to Las Vegas instead of the league expanding. Those rumors, like the ones of Quebec City, were shot down almost immediately by Bettman.
“I don’t see the Hurricanes relocating, period,” Bettman told the News & Observer’s Chip Alexander in early June. “I think (Carolina) 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.”
There are no doubt issues facing the Hurricanes. Namely, their attendance has been in the tank. In the past two seasons, Carolina has ranked 29th and 30th in the league in terms of attendance. The Hurricanes averaged only 12,203 fans last season and the team has struggled on ice.
Luckily, things could be set to turn a corner in Carolina. There’s a stock of good, young talent in the Hurricanes’ system and GM Ron Francis has been patient in building his team, most recently using Carolina’s cap space to his advantage to pry talented youngster Teuvo Teravainen away from the Blackhawks while taking on a cap hit in Bryan Bickell that Chicago could no longer afford. There are some who consider the Hurricanes a possible landing spot for Pavel Datsyuk’s contract, too, if the Detroit Red Wings can sweeten the pot.
Carolina finished only 10 points outside the post-season in 2015-16 and appear to be in position for another run at a wild-card spot, at the very least. It’s been a steady build, and if Bettman is being truthful and the league isn’t planning to move Carolina anytime soon, the Hurricanes could be a franchise that sees a bit of a rebirth through its rebuild.