More teams coming north?

Commissioner Gary Bettman isn't going to wade into the argument over public funding for an NHL...

Commissioner Gary Bettman isn't going to wade into the argument over public funding for an NHL arena in Quebec City. (QMI Agency/Doug Hempstead)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman waffled on the idea of struggling U.S.-based franchises moving to Canada or teams coming here through expansion.

There has been plenty of talk the NHL could relocate teams to either Quebec City or Winnipeg.

Im not in a position to answer that because were not expanding right now. Were not looking to relocate, said Bettman. As hard as we fought to keep the Senators alive and well in Ottawa, thats what we do in other places because we think we have a covenant with our fans everywhere to try and make it work.

So, we try to avoid relocation. If theres going to be an expansion, or theres going to be a relocation as Ive said repeatedly under the right circumstances, with an arena and ownership, wed like to go back to places that perhaps we left. But, Im not in a position to set a time-table or have any guess as to whether thats going to happen any time soon.

Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau would like to bring an NHL franchise back to Quebec City if a new arena is built.

Bettman said he has a good relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but isnt going to wade into the argument over public funding for an NHL arena in Quebec City.

The arena debate is not something were going to get involved in, said Bettman. I dont want to set anybody off on things that are purely speculative. Ive said if theres a new arena and theres suitable ownership, what wed like to do is figure out a way of dealing with going back to Quebec City. Were intrigued by the possibility and, under the right circumstances, wed like to go back.

Bettman added an arena in Winnipeg is not an issue, but the league doesnt want to relocate any franchises. He said the city of Glendale is working with two groups trying to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, but the team has been without an owner for 18 months.

If that deal cant be worked out, the Coyotes are expected to be sold to Winnipeg-based True North Sports and Entertainment.

Winnipeg gets strong consideration because wed like to go back to places weve left, said Bettman.


Videos

Photos