You would think the NHL is relaxing with the whole expansion idea after Las Vegas. But it sure doesn’t sound like the league taking a break, reports have swirled that a Houston NHL team could be in the works too. The Athletic’s Katie Strang first reported this news, stating that sources tell her NHL officials and Houston Rockets ownership have spoken about a possibility of a Houston NHL franchise in the future.
Sources: NHL, Houston Rockets owner meet to talk NHL's viability in Houston https://t.co/En5rwMxaGs
— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) November 16, 2017
Report: Houston NHL Team Might Be A Possibility
With the Vegas Golden Knights now officially an NHL team, the league has shifted its attention to another city. Strang reports that commissioner Gary Bettman and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta have met at the league’s office in New York City.
When Bettman was asked about the news, he refused to comment. Bettman was hesitant to even speak about relocations or another expansion within the NHL. But Bettman did say that if Houston were to show interest, the NHL would consider its options.
Tilman Fertitta, on the other hand, is showing no shyness when it comes to bringing an NHL team to Houston. He expressed his interest telling Mark Berman of the local Fox affiliate, “I would love to bring an NHL team here. ” Fertitta bought the Houston Rockets in 2012 for a total of $2.2 billion.
A Houston NHL Team Would Make A Perfect Fit
It’s no secret the NHL is currently having arena issues with the Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, and the New York Islanders. The Ottawa Senators are also now looking for a new arena. Meanwhile, Peter Karmanos continues to look for a new owner for the Carolina Hurricanes. The league also has 31 teams now, with the Central division being the only one of the four with seven teams. Houston could provide relief for a team needing a new home. It is also perfectly placed, geographically, for a potential NHL expansion team. However, any expansion bid would likely face competition from Quebec City and Seattle.
Although it’s sometimes hard for fans to get behind a new team, look at the Las Vegas Golden Knights. With a population of 632,912 as of 2016, the Knights have made a lot of noise around the NHL. It’s hard to imagine a city like Houston with a population of 2.3 million wouldn’t be as successful, if not even more so.
With several arena issues in the past, the Coyotes are probably the most threatened by these reports. The Coyotes have struggled to find a home permanently for awhile now. If the NHL thinks a relocation might be necessary, Houston could be a possibility if these talks heat up over the course of time. Commissioner Gary Bettman might be quiet in terms of confirming any reports, but he would look at a move that is profitable for the rest of the league’s owners.