It didn't take long for the NHL to dump cold water on rumors that expansion to Las Vegas was "a done deal."
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly categorically denied the report, first issued by Tony Gallagher of The Province on Tuesday afternoon.
When contacted via email by SI.com, he echoed his earlier comments to TVA Sports on Wednesday morning.
"It's not in our plans, there is absolutely nothing new in that,"
He also shot down the possibility that a financially fragile operation such as the Florida Panthers could imminently pick up stakes and head west.
"We have no move in sight, whether in the case of the Panthers, or any other team," Daly replied.
Fair enough, but what else was he going to say? If the league is going to make a move as significant as expansion or relocation, the announcement isn't going to arrive in an email response to a reporter's inquiry. The truth could leak out—as it might have with Gallagher in this case—but we can't expect to hear anything from any official sources until the NHL is ready to reveal the news on its own terms.
In the meantime, we know this much: A viable NHL facility is under construction in the Las Vegas and there has been a string of potential owners, including Hollywood mogul (and beer league superstar) Jerry Bruckheimer, who are interested in placing a franchise in the city. It's a location that, while saturated with entertainment options, has no other major league teams to split that particular market.
We also know that the league wants to get to 32 teams at some point, with the next two cities being awarded to the West in order to balance the conferences at 16 teams apiece. And when you look out west, there aren't many viable options outside of Las Vegas, Seattle and possibly Portland.
Daly's denial may be honest today, but we might want to ask him again tomorrow.