According to reports, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta met with National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss the possibility of bringing an NHL franchise back to the Bayou City.
— BarDown (@BarDown) November 17, 2017
Sources say the two came together last month at the NHL’s offices in New York City; details of the interaction are not disclosed, nor do reports mention discussion of adding another expansion team or relocating a current franchise.
When contacted about the meeting, Bettman reportedly responded as follows:
“If Houston were to express an interest in having an NHL franchise, under the right circumstances, it’s something we might want to consider.”
He also confirmed the league is not looking to relocate any teams at this time during the press conference.
With the launch of the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights this season, 31 teams make up the league, and though the odd number of teams may present scheduling issues, it is not unprecedented.
From 1999, the National Football League operated with 31 teams, when it added the expansion Cleveland Browns.
It wasn’t until 2002, when the NFL became a league of 32 again with the addition of the Houston Texans.
If Houston does not get an NHL expansion team, franchises agree, it may be an attractive destination for a franchise looking for greener pastures:
The Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, and Arizona Coyotes are all reportedly looking for new arenas in their current cities, some of whom, according to analysts, may use a move to Houston as leverage for better deals.
Shortly after buying the Rockets and taking control of the Toyota Center, Fertitta expressed his goal of bringing an NHL franchise to Houston:
“Do I want to see Toyota Center filled up 300 nights a year? Definitely.” Fertitta said. “I would put an NHL team here tomorrow.”
Stay tuned, y’all.
Houston hockey, Radko Gudas, Connor McDavid is toast, Jersey Fouls, NHL gossipmongers and so much more in the ESPN NHL Weekly Reader! https://t.co/HWx0kcbHW9
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 17, 2017