Players intrigued by Vegas as potential NHL market
Las Vegas has entered the conversation for a possible NHL expansion franchise. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun/Reuters/Files)
Viva Las Vegas!
As the NHL’s board of governors gather here Saturday morning for their all-star meeting, the issue of expansion likely isn’t on the agenda.
But, with a ticket drive going on in the Sin City and a group willing to pay a $475 million expansion fee, it may just a be a matter of time for Las Vegas.
The league doesn’t need approval from the NHL Players’ Association to expand, but it’s doubtful the union would stand in the way because it means more jobs for its members, more revenues for the league and, let’s face it, Las Vegas wouldn’t be a bad road trip, at all.
“I don’t know how it would be living and playing in Vegas for those guys,” Dallas Stars winger Tyler Seguin said with a smile. “Going to visit and playing them for a game will be OK. They might have the best or the worst home record, I don’t know.
“But that should be interesting to see how that comes together.”
Everybody will be waiting with baited breath because there’s groups in Las Vegas, Seattle and Quebec City that want teams. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has maintained expansion isn’t imminent but, if groups are willing to stroke a cheque, that could certainly change quickly.
“Our league, anywhere it can grow is good, that’s been the name of the game the last five, six or seven years – try to grow our game as much as possible,” said Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “If we have a market we can do that in, I’m all for it. It’d be another team closer to me.
“Less travel for me, that would be good.”
What about the challenges?
“Of being a road team in Vegas?,” Getzlaf said with a chuckle. “There’s always challenges whatever city you go into. Vegas is one of those that’s a little bit odd with the off-ice challenges and staying focused on what you’re doing. That’s part of being a pro and learning.
“It doesn’t matter what city you’re going to, there’s opportunity to be distracted. Vegas happens to have a few more than others. At the same time, there would be some distractions and go from there.”
Getzlaf noted there could be one way around those concerns.
“I think we’d go in on the day of the game and leave right after,” a smiling Getzlaf added.
AROUND THE BOARDS: Senators winger Bobby Ryan would gladly play for Team USA if they called him to take part in next summer’s World Cup which will be confirmed at a press conference here Saturday. He wasn’t asked to go to Sochi and it was revealed that Calgary president Brian Burke questioned Ryan’s intensity during behind-the-scenes meetings with American team officials. “I’d always play for my country if they called, to wear that jersey, I’d always play,” Ryan said. “If it was Brian Burke calling I’d probably let it ring a few extra times to make him sweat before I picked it up or put it to voicemail and text him back. I would certainly always go.” ... Flyers GM Ron Hextall has been busy with the deadline set for March 2nd. He’d like to make a move or two involving some of his blueliners, but the issue is Philly doesn’t really have anybody that teams want.
THIS N’ THAT: Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will miss the game in his own town because of an undisclosed lower-body injury he suffered Wednesday in Winnipeg. Helped off the ice, the feeling here is that it doesn’t look good, which could force GM Jarmo Kekalainen to search for some help. There is some speculation the Jackets might look at the option of bringing in veteran netminder Martin Brodeur. He signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the St. Louis Blues but has been given a leave of absence by the club to decide on his future. The Jackets need help, it might work in the short-term ... One team that could be interested in Ottawa winger Chris Neil is the Winnipeg Jets. They’ve been looking to add more grit up front before the deadline.
OFF THE GLASS: With several teams looking for a young forward who can score, most have either Edmonton’s Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle on their radar screen and all have inquired with GM Craig MacTavish about the possibility. What they’re being told? That the Oilers don’t want to do anything right now. “It’s surprising because you’d think they’d want to do something and there’s plenty of interest,” said a league executive. “With where they’re sitting and what’s been happening, it doesn’t sound like they even really want to discuss the possibility.” The Oilers are listening to offers but the sense is if they’re going to do something with either Hall or Eberle it will be in the off-season when their draft position is decided and they can weigh everything. All-star forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins isn’t going anywhere ... The Los Angeles Kings are on the outside looking in at the all-star break and that’s been a little surprising. “I’m confident we can get back into a playoff spot but it’s tough because everybody is gunning for us every night,” said defenceman Drew Doughty. “We’ve got to be better. There’s no question.” If they don’t, there’s plenty of talk the Kings will move centre Mike Richards and there’s been interest.