Is Gary Bettman Ready To Have A Team In Las Vegas?


There can be a few good things said about NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. He is the man that has brought the NHL to the place where it is now. He’s given the league a lot more visibility, and has made the NHL a profitable, viable organization.

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He has also been the brainchild behind several lockouts . While he is respected by the players and the owners in the league, there isn’t much love there. There is even less among the team’s respective fan bases. Let’s face it, it’s not quite a Stanley Cup presentation without the stadium chanting “Bettman sucks!” or booing him like a failed gladiator in the Colisseum.

Last season, Bettman and the NHL’s Board of Governors (where Jeremy Jacobs still sits representing the Boston Bruins) began looking at potential expansion sites for the league. While many fans were hoping for Quebec City(and a return of the Quebec Nordiques), the league turned towards the West. Cities like Seattle and Las Vegas soon became the frontrunners in the competition to score a new franchise .

“If the board has any interest in pursuing it, my recommendation would be, then, to open a formal expansion process,” said Bettman to the media during the Stanley Cup Finals. “And even if they green-light a formal expansion process, it doesn’t mean we’re going to expand. It means we’ll go through the steps of looking through things, and the conclusion at the end of the process could very well be no expansion.”

If Vegas is going to get that first green light, they could get it as early as Wednesday. Most of the owners will be in Nevada for the NHL Awards (Where hopefully Patrice Bergeron will get another Selke.). A quick straw poll amongst the Board of Governors could start the ball rolling on another hockey team in the desert.

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  • It’s not like a hockey team in the desert is going to become a money pit, right?

    Back in January, Bettman let billionaire investor Bill Foley test the waters for a potential franchise in Sin City. Foley set out to secure 10,000 season ticket holders to prove the viability of a franchise. To his credit , he has already surpassed that goal. (He’s lined approximately 11,500.) He was also able to line up an additional thousand commitments and over seven hundred suite requests from casinos and other Las Vegas businesses.

    “Las Vegas has done its job,” said Foley to fans and reporters last month. According to The Las Vegas Sun, “Now we’ve presented the information to the league. I’m very confident, but we have to wait for the league to respond.”

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  • Foley wants to see a team in Vegas by the 2017-18 season. He’s ready to make some bold (and borderline reckless) moves to see a team ready to compete from day one.  “We won’t have retreads,” said Foley of his plans. “We’re going to have young, aggressive players and we’re going to have young, aggressive coaches. It won’t be guys my age coaching. It’s going to be guys that are 40 years old coaching. We’re going to take assistant GMs and assistant coaches and move them up.”

    He even believes he can get his team to the playoffs in three years, and win a Stanley Cup in eight.

    Foley wants a team in Las Vegas, and it looks like he has the support of the city. The stadium being built will be ready by 2017. Gary Bettman would love the validation of another team in the desert, and I don’t think Jeremy Jacobs would turn down his share of the half-billion franchise fee.

    So, if all the pieces are in place, and it sounds like a great idea, why do I see a repeat of the Arizona debacle?

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