Houston interest makes future NHL expansion even more likely – Sportsnet.ca

While the mood of the home opener in Las Vegas earlier this week rightfully took on a less celebratory tone following the tragic shooting on Oct. 1, there’s no question the NHL’s 31st franchise is off to a solid start on many fronts.

Team sweater sales are good, the building is full and cable TV deals are being done. Oh yeah, and the the team is winning too, off to a 3-0 start.

Team owner Bill Foley’s dream, and his chequebook, have made hockey in Nevada real.

One has to think that Foley’s new partners are eager for more. When does Team 32 talk become real? When does the opportunity to get in each of the Top 10 U.S. television markets make more expansion too much sense? For me, the answer to that question is “sooner than later.”

And while we’re not talking about another team joining the league next season or the year after, it certainly makes sense to at least begin the discussions.

On Wednesday night, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Patrick O’Neil of Fox Sports West that getting the league to a nice even number of 32 teams was not really necessary, but, “Could it happen at some point? Yes. But it’s nothing we are focussed on right now.”

There are just too many numbers that add up to adding another team and I suspect some owners will be pressing the commissioner to look at it, now.

Here are some of those numbers:

4 and 10: Houston (No. 4) and Seattle (No. 10) are the largest TV markets in the United States without an NHL team.

4: The number of years left on the league’s TV deal with NBC, and you have to think the value of the league’s media rights stand to grow if it’s in more

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