Seattle is all but certain to be named the NHL’s 32nd team next week but the league is not ruling out expanding the league further.
The NHL Board of Governors is expected to approve Seattle’s application on Tuesday, with the team joining in either 2020 or 2021 depending on its stadium redevelopment plans.
Beyond this, Houston, Quebec City and Toronto have been touted as future expansion cities, while European expansion has not been ruled out in the long term.
“Not sure there is any magic about 32,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told AP. “Expansion is appropriate when a convincing case can be made that it will be beneficial and add value to the league as a whole.”
“The leagues adapt, they look around and they make judgments: Are there markets we would like to go into? Can they support the teams at the revenue levels that we need? If we expand too much too fast, do we dilute the talent such that the product suffers? And those are all judgment calls in the end,” NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr added.
“Some leagues and owners are more cautious than others. But sooner or later I would like to believe that in the kind of economy we have, all potential avenues will be explored.”