Las Vegas and Quebec City have given their formal presentations and jumped through all the hoops necessary to put their expansion bids in the best position possible, but even that may not be enough for the two potential expansion cities to land NHL franchises.
In December, the executive committee of the board of governors will gather in Palm Springs, Calif., where they will hold the fates of the expansion bids in their hands. Members of the executive committee include Ducks owner Henry Samueli, Flames co-owner Murray Edwards, Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, Wild owner Craig Leipold, Flyers owner Ed Snider, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, but the most powerful man of all may be Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who is chairman of the committee.
And Thursday, Jacobs spoke with ESPN’s Joey McDonald, but Jacobs’ words weren’t music to the ears of those behind the Vegas and Quebec City bids.
“There’s a lot of content there,” Jacobs said. “There’s a lot of capability there, but I don’t know if there’s a desire or will within the board of the existing franchises for expansion yet. They both made pretty interesting proposals. Both have very legitimate arenas in place and organizations in place. There’s a capacity out there, but I don’t know if there’s a will from a league standpoint.”
That is to say a final decision on expansion — either against or in favor of it — is far from certain at this point. And for fans desperate to see the Nordiques take the ice again in Quebec City, they’ll be saddened to see Jacobs seems to favor moving into Vegas more than he does putting a second team in La belle province.
"Take a look at what’s gone up in Nevada -- it’s scary,” Jacobs told McDonald. “I mean, it really is. It’s a heck of an arena built there, and there’s a strong interest there. Balance the fact, Quebec has a great hockey interest, [but] it’s an extraordinarily small market.”
Quebec City, whose bid is led by the company that owns The Hockey News, and Las Vegas were the only two cities to enter bids for expansion, however, and that shocked Jacobs, who had his appeared to have his eye set on one specific location.
"We had no applications from Toronto, so that says a lot,” he told McDonald. “We had two legitimate ones, Quebec and Nevada -- it speaks volumes. I’d love to see us in the West to be up in Seattle. Seattle’s a natural, and I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building. There are conditions and circumstances in each one of these that we have to take into consideration."
One aspect of the NHL receiving only two bids could have been the $10-million application fee, $2 million of which was non-refundable.
Jacobs’ comments don’t sound the death knell for either of the bids, but they’re certainly interesting as we wait to see where exactly the NHL plans to go — if anywhere — with expansion.