SUN Hockey Pool

Commish rips T.O. rumour

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Gary Bettman doesn't know where it came from, but he denies there's been talk of the NHL putting another franchise in Toronto.

Last night the league commissioner was in Chicago on the eve of the general managers' meeting and attempted to put the rumour to rest prior.

"I don't believe everything I read," Bettman said. "I certainly don't believe things that cite anonymous sources. I'm always skeptical as to who an anonymous source might be or whether an anonymous source really exists.

INCORRECT

"The story is absolutely incorrect. We're not looking to relocate and we're not looking to expand. Anybody suggesting that we are doing any of those two things is kind of making it up as they go along."

Stories have come out of Toronto that Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie wants to buy an NHL franchise and relocate it to Toronto.

While the economic situation in the U.S. is currently bleak, Bettman said there aren't any franchises in immediate trouble.

"We are obviously aware of what's going on in the economy," Bettman said. "We have no doubt that if this continues to get worse it will impact every business.

"Right now we have not seen any material impact with what's going on. That doesn't mean we think we're immune, because I think at some point it's going to impact everything, including us.

"But our attendance is up, our season tickets are up, we're still selling sponsorships, we're developing important relationships and our business side is very strong."

That's certainly true here, where the Blackhawks have tripled their season ticket base from a year ago.

"Nobody is in immediate jeopardy or anything close to jeopardy as we see it in terms of the club's day-to-day operations," Bettman said. "We're not anywhere close to that right now."


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