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Bettman: 'At some point in the future, I could see some expansion somewhere'

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged Sunday that the expansion of the league is a possibility.

Bettman addressed the league's hottest topic during an intermission interview at the All-Star Game in Columbus.

"I believe that at some point, it may be appropriate to expand," the commissioner told George Stroumboulopoulos of Sportsnet.

"We've got great talent, and there are lots of places including in Canada that would like to have a franchise. Whether or not there's a timetable in place, the answer's no. Not right now. But at some point in the future, I could see some expansion somewhere, but I'm not any more focused than that."

The league would reportedly command an expansion fee of over $1 billion for a second Toronto franchise, TSN's Rick Westhead reported last fall.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said over the summer that expansion was not in the league's plans.

Bettman said prospective Las Vegas franchise owner William Foley remains interested in bringing an NHL team to Nevada. Foley has been given the go-ahead to begin a season-ticket drive to gauge interest.

"If the response is good, the way he believes it'll be, it'll tell him that he should keep pushing at us. We haven't made any commitments."

The expansion fee for a Las Vegas franchise will reportedly exceed $450 million, but relocation is another hot topic given dwindling attendance figures in several NHL cities.

Bettman said all of the league's owners are doing their part.

"The ownership is strong in every franchise," the commissioner said. 

"To the extent that a particular franchise might have an issue or a problem, or they're trying to revamp the way they've been selling tickets for the last few years and change their business practices, it means their wherewithal is there to back it up and ride them through the rebuild."

Bettman: 'At some point in the future, I could see some expansion somewhere'
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