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Report: NHL unlikely to announce expansion in December

Jared Clinton
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Render of proposed Las Vegas arena (MGM Resorts International) Author: The Hockey News

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Report: NHL unlikely to announce expansion in December

Jared Clinton
By:

The NHL’s board of governors will meet in Pebble Beach, Fla., in December, but it’s unlikely they’ll come to a decision regarding expansion, according to a report. The league may be deciding to take more time before moving forward with awarding either Las Vegas or Quebec City expansion teams.

Those expecting to know whether or not the NHL will be expanding by the end of the calendar year may be disappointed.

According to Le Journal de Montreal’s Renaud Lavoie, it appears unlikely the NHL will come to a definitive decision on expansion by December’s board of governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Fla. Lavoie reported the league still wants to take its time and review the expansion proposals from both Quebec City and Las Vegas before moving forward and awarding either city an expansion team.

All has been quiet on the expansion front for more than a month. The last major news came when Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who serves as the chairman for the board of governors, said he wasn’t sure about the desire for expansion.

“There’s a lot of capability there, but I don’t know if there’s a desire or will within the board of the existing franchises for expansion yet,” Jacobs told ESPN's Joey McDonald in October. “[Quebec City and Las Vegas] made pretty interesting proposals. Both have very legitimate arenas in place and organizations in place. There’s a capacity out there, but I don’t know if there’s a will from a league standpoint.”

Quebec City and Las Vegas were the only two cities to produce formal bids for expansion and both were invited to Phase II of the expansion process in Aug. 5. It wasn’t until Aug. 21 that both expansion applicants were then invited to the third phase of the process, which has since been completed. An initial report from The Associated Press’ John Wawrow suggested expansion clubs could have been awarded by September, but it appears the process is set to drag out longer.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said both groups — Las Vegas’ bid is headed by Bill Foley and Quebecor, which owns the subsidiary that owns The Hockey News, is leading Quebec City’s bid — made presentations at the end of September, but gave no guaranteed timeline on when a decision would be made.

Before expansion can happen, a recommendation must be made to the NHL board of governors by the board’s executive committee, which consists of Jacobs, Ducks owner Henry Samueli, Flames co-owner Murray Edwards, Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, Wild owner Craig Leipold, Flyers owner Ed Snider, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.

"The committee is going to get together at least one more time if not more, and we have to ultimately begin deliberations," commissioner Gary Bettman said in September following the presentations. "There are a lot of issues and questions that are going to have to be answered before any decision can be made.”

In a recent interview, Foley told the University of Las Vegas’ Rebel Report that the Las Vegas group did well in their presentation, and added that he’s unsure of a timeline for a decision.

“Our feedback was that Las Vegas hit it out of the park, did really well. Now we’re in this mode where we’re waiting for, probably, another executive committee meeting to take a look at what we’ve done and how we’ve responded,” Foley. “Then board of governors in December, and it may go on beyond that, because there are no promises.”

If expansion happens, Bettman said neither team will begin play before the 2017-18 season.

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Report: NHL unlikely to announce expansion in December