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Bettman says no moves or expansion on the horizon

by Staff
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the League has no intention to move any franchises or add any via expansion anytime soon.

Speaking on his weekly "NHL Hour" radio show, Bettman said Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met recently with a group that's seeking a second franchise in Southern Ontario, but denied any plans to put a team there.

"Bill happened to be in Toronto on other business, and some people asked if he would sit down and talk to them and hear what they had to say," Bettman said. "We listen to a lot of people. But we couldn't have been more consistent on the notion that we're not planning on relocating. We're not planning on expanding. Anyone who wants a franchise really is out of luck for the foreseeable future.

"The notion that because Bill happened to sit down with some people -- I didn’t know who he was sitting down with. I couldn't care less. He had the meeting, he reported back that there was another group interested in a team in Southern Ontario, which doesn't come as a shock or a news bulletin to me."

If expansion or relocation becomes a possibility, he said the field is wide-open.

"If at some point we're in the business of relocating or expanding, we're going to open it up because the number of people and the number of places that want franchises is a fairly lengthy list," Bettman said. "Nobody has the corner on the market."

The Commissioner also told a caller that New York Islanders "cannot stay in the Nassau Coliseum one minute longer than they're required to under their lease." Islanders owner Charles Wang is attempting to gain approval from the Town of Hempstead for the Lighthouse Project, a development that would include a much-needed remodeling of the Coliseum, the smallest arena in the NHL.

The Isles' current lease expires in 2015.

Bettman said Wang "is absolutely committed to trying to do everything possible to get the Lighthouse Project moving forward -- but warned that " If that doesn't work, he's going to have to look at his options -- that doesn't necessarily mean his options off of Long Island, but he's going to have to look at his options."

"That building is antiquated," he added of the Coliseum, the Islanders' home since they entered the NHL in 1972. "Everyone knows it. It impacts attendance. It impacts team performance. It impacts the experience fans have when they go to the game.

"It's time for Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead to give him the approvals so that he can move forward," Bettman said. "Let him get the approvals he needs so that he can get the job done. He will get it done, but it's time for the governmental authorities to stop being an impediment to what must happen inevitably -- because if anybody thinks that in the absence of the new arena, this team is going to stay in the Nassau Coliseum, they must be nuts.

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