WINNIPEG - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the league’s 30 franchises are stable and said that the “market is not flooded with teams” for sale, contrary to some media reports.
He also expressed interest in seeing teams return to Winnipeg and Quebec City before another one ever goes to Southern Ontario.
Bettman still regrets allowing the Jets and Nordiques to move.
“I’d like to try and fix something that I wish might not have happened in the first place,” he said. “Not unlike what we did in Minnesota.”
The commissioner also confirmed that David Thomson and Mark Chipman recently made an offer to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move them back to Winnipeg. The league had that as a backup plan in case the city of Glendale wasn’t prepared to cover the team’s losses next season.
Bettman believes Thomson and Chipman will wait for another opportunity.
“They are very comfortable with the process,” he said. “They understood that the likelihood was that the team was going to be remaining in Phoenix. They wanted us to know of their interest and they have told us that they are prepared to be patient.”
He’s reluctant to say how long it will be before the NHL makes a return to Winnipeg.
“I’m not going to put a timeline on it because I do not want to raise expectations,” said Bettman. “The interest is clear and bonafide. It’s gratifying.”