Surprisingly a lot more came out of Gary Bettman and Bill Daly’s “State of the NHL” press conference in Pittsburgh than we expected. Of course, they did not give us the good news we’ve been waiting for, but they were much more forthcoming on the remaining timeline than they’ve ever been before.
Here’s the new timeline. The NHL’s Executive Committee will meet “a week or so” in advance of the full Board of Governors meeting on June 22nd. We’ve been told through the grapevine that June 7th will be the date of the Executive Committee meeting, but that’s yet to be confirmed. The full Board of Governors will meet on the morning of June 22nd in Las Vegas, and then an announcement will follow, most likely at the Hard Rock Hotel at the NHL Awards.
But that was just the beginning of what the commish and vice-commish had to say.
The most telling quote from the entire press conference for me was about the NFL.
Our own belief is if the NFL comes to Las Vegas at some point, so be it. -Gary Bettman
Not only did he once again say that the NFL has no bearing on the NHL’s decision, but the way it was said pretty clearly indicates the NHL is already in bed with Las Vegas. If the league wasn’t planning to expand to Vegas, why would he even care what the NFL’s plans are?
The next comment, which came after the official press conference was about the NHL Entry Draft and an expansion team’s role in it. I have always guessed the league would hold the lottery for the top three picks and then slot the new team(s) in at 4th. Well, that’s not going to be the case as Bill Daly told reporters any expansion teams would be placed in the lottery. Therefore, when the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago takes place, Las Vegas could be first to the podium, something I never expected to be a reality. Still have to win a lottery, but at least there’s a chance.
Finally, a lot has been made of the commissioner’s “three possible outcomes” comment. Those being, no expansion, deferred expansion, or expansion of one or two teams. It is the first time we’ve heard the NHL use the term deferred or defer in regards to the process, however those have been the possible outcomes all along. Nothing has changed other than them introducing a new word.
I believe the word deferred is being used as a way for the NHL to let Quebec City down softly. Rather than expanding to Las Vegas while killing off the possibility of Quebec City, they’ll use the word deferred to keep from creating riots in Canada.
All in all, the press conference brought nothing but positive news for Vegas. Las Vegas is getting a team, and they’ll be on the ice in 2017-18. Believe me.