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Seattle expansion vote by NHL Board of Governors could come in fall

Commissioner Bettman says 'there's still work to be done'

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- The earliest the NHL Board of Governors will vote on adding an expansion team in Seattle will be in the fall, Commissioner Gary Bettman said during his press conference prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Monday.

An ownership group led by Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and private equity CEO David Bonderman filed an application for expansion with the NHL in February with the intention of the team beginning play in the 2020-21 season. The expansion fee would be $650 million, up from the $500 million the Vegas Golden Knights paid to enter the League this season. Seattle would become the NHL's 32nd team.

The Board typically meets in September and early December.


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Commissioner Bettman said an update on the Seattle expansion application will be provided to the Board at its meeting June 20.

"There are a number of bases we have to touch, a lot of due diligence that has to be done, a lot of interaction with the prospective ownership group, David Bonderman's group," Commissioner Bettman said. "We think we're on target and depending on how everything goes it wouldn't surprise me that there is a possibility that in the fall, early winter at the latest that this could be addressed by the Board, but we're not there yet and there's still work to be done."

The ownership group is working with Los Angeles-based Oak View Group on a privately financed $600 million renovation of KeyArena, the former home of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.

"The building still has to be renovated, so there's plenty of time to deal with the issues that have to be dealt with," Commissioner Bettman said.

Video: Bettman reflects on 2017-18 season in opening remarks

Included in that time frame could be negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires after the 2021-22 season, but either the NHL or the NHL Players' Association could reopen negotiations following the 2019-20 season.

"Putting aside the Seattle issue, there's always good reason to see if we can work with the Players' Association and ensure labor peace and stability for the game and our fans and the players and all the people who work at the clubs," Commissioner Bettman said. "We would love nothing but to have an extended runway out of labor peace and anything we can do to achieve that on a more than timely basis would be great."

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the NHL and the NHLPA have a shared desire to begin CBA discussions, but have not done so yet.

"I'd say from our perspective we're prepared to have those discussions at any point in time," Deputy Commissioner Daly said.

If Seattle is granted a franchise, the same rules for the Vegas Golden Knights' 2017 NHL Expansion Draft would be in place, with the exception being Vegas would be exempt from losing a player, the Deputy Commissioner said.

Deputy Commissioner Daly also said the NHL has had preliminary talks with the NHLPA about the future international calendar, including another World Cup of Hockey. The Deputy Commissioner said the pending CBA talks are a part of the discussion regarding where the World Cup fits on the future calendar. It was last held in 2016.

"As the Commissioner said, we welcome the opportunity to create labor certainty if there is an opportunity to create labor certainty earlier rather than later," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "If that plays into the international calendar discussion, so be it. We welcome that effort."

Video: Bettman, Daly on Olymipcs, hockey in Las Vegas


Salary cap projection

Deputy Commissioner Daly said the League is still projecting the NHL salary cap for next season to be between $78 million and $82 million, up from $75 million this season. The cap figure is dependent on the 5 percent inflator that could be triggered by the NHLPA.

It is the same projection Commissioner Bettman gave at the Board of Governors meeting Dec. 8.

Deputy Commissioner Daly said the League and NHLPA have not discussed the inflator for next season yet.


Arena updates

Deputy Commissioner Daly said ownership groups for the Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders and Calgary Flames are continuing their efforts to build arenas.

The Deputy Commissioner said there was a conference call Friday about the Coyotes' arena situation and there are three possible options for an arena in the East Valley region.

"There continues to be a high level of confidence that they can get something done," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "A lot of different moving pieces, but a lot of communities in the Valley are interested in helping them out. They don't have anything done yet, but they're working on it."

The Deputy Commissioner said it's not as promising in Calgary for an arena to replace Scotiabank Saddledome, which opened in 1983.

"All indications right now is that it's a dead end, but dead ends tend to become nondead ends at some point in time," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "So, I would hope at some point in time we'll transition to a point where there's a possibility of a new arena because I think the franchise needs a new arena."

It's more promising for the Islanders, whose owners have already announced plans for an arena near Belmont Park.

Newsday reported April 30 that the arena and surrounding retail development project is on schedule to start as early as the spring of 2019.

"Current ownership is still committed to the Belmont project and have every reason to believe the Belmont project will move forward, and really there's been no hurdles to that yet," Deputy Commissioner Daly said.

The Deputy Commissioner said there was no update on the possibility of a new arena for the Senators in the LeBreton Flats area of Ottawa. Commissioner Bettman also stressed that Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is not looking to sell the team.

Video: Bettman on Vegas, Capitals playing for first Cup


Commissioner weighs in on legalized betting

Commissioner Bettman said the NHL is looking for consistency with respect to the Supreme Court ruling May 14 striking down a federal law that banned most states from authorizing sports betting.

"We'd like not to have it vary state by state," the Commissioner said. "Now, if all the states want to come together and do the same thing, that would be the equivalent of federal legislation, and that's something that we're focused on."

Commissioner Bettman also said the NHL wants to be involved in any discussions about leagues profiting from legalized gambling.

"If you're going to allocate for yourself to run a business on our intellectual property and the performance of our athletes and the platform we put on for our games, we're entitled to be involved in that," the Commissioner said.


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