A week after saying the Pacific Northwest would receive “serious consideration” for a NHL expansion team, deputy commissioner Bill Daly pumped the brakes on a rumor about a team playing in Seattle next year.
“There’s never been a plan to expand to 32 teams,” he told ESPN.com Wednesday morning. “Whether we talked conceptually at some point if things are going well whether we could expand to 32, I’m sure we suggested we could.
“But we certainly never reached the point where that was appropriate.”
Daly added: “Any sports league aspires to be in a position where expansion is a good idea … but again, it’s got to be the right circumstances.”
Seattle has long been considered to be on the short list along with Quebec City, Toronto and Kansas City as possible destinations for a new NHL franchise.
In June, a pair of New York investors met with Mayor Mike McGinn and city councilmembers about buying the Phoenix Coyotes and relocating the team to Seattle.
Their plan fell through once Glendale, Ariz., stepped up to keep the Coyotes, but NHL rumors in Seattle picked up again this week.
According to Mitch Levy at KJR 950, commissioner Gary Bettman is pushing the league’s Board of Governors to place an expansion franchise in Seattle for the 2014-15 season.
“All of this contingent upon 1) a solid ownership coming forward and buying the team and 2) the new arena staying on track to be built,” Levy said in a series of tweets Tuesday night.
The new team would cost about $275 million, Levy said.
He also noted Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza, who attempted to relocate the Coyotes to Seattle, are among several investors interested in purchasing a Seattle expansion team.
McGinn said he met with Bettman months ago and talked about a NHL team playing at KeyArena on a temporary basis.
Seattle has a five-year agreement deal with investor Chris Hansen to build a new $490 million downtown arena that requires him to purchase an NBA franchise before construction begins.
Hansen is open to breaking ground with a NHL team as the first tenant. But City councilmember Tim Burgess and others expressed reservations about revising the deal.
It’s also unclear if the NHL is completely sold on Seattle.
At a news conference in Vancouver last week, Daly sent mixed messages when asked if Seattle is in line to receive a team through relocation or expansion.
“I’m not sure we ever really addressed Seattle as a specific alternative in that process,” Daly said referring to Seattle as a potential Plan B for the Coyotes. “But I think it’s safe to say that we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally.
“The Vancouver Canucks have done a fantastic job developing a fan base here, a hockey following here. And so going forward, I would expect that, to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration.”