NHL still moving slowly toward expansion decision

Jan 22, 2016 9:24 AM

The 30-team National Hockey League continues moving slowly toward an expansion decision, a fact that underscores the importance of patience.

That’s the conclusion of Las Vegan Bill Foley, the billionaire businessman who is leading the effort to bring southern Nevada its first major league sports team, an NHL franchise. The fee to join is $500 million per team.

Las Vegas and Quebec City have both formally applied to join the NHL, but there was no news about a decision coming out of this week’s meeting of the 10-member executive committee in New York.

Foley appears to sense that the current owners are struggling to find a solution to the issues raised by a potential expansion draft. The NHL Players Association has said it expects owners  to honor the contract of any player who has a “no move” clause and not expose that player to expansion.

“I’m sure the draft is something they are struggling with,” Foley told the Review-Journal. “Things are a little more complicated than we probably expected it to be when we put in our application last July.”

The key to the decision he’s waiting for is patience, Foley has said repeatedly. His best guess is that the decision on expansion is a couple of months away, probably March or April before he’ll see the shape of things still to come.

If Foley is successful, the Las Vegas entry in the NHL will be a principal tenant in the new T-Mobile Arena that will open in April.

The NHL’s Board of Governors will meet at next week’s NHL All-Star game in Nashville and be brought up to speed by the executive committee, which is chaired by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].