BOUCHERVILLE, QUE. - If the NHL is thinking about expansion as reports suggest, Commissioner Gary Bettman says he hasn't heard about it.
On a swing near Montreal on Wednesday for the launch of the 2014-15 NHL season on Sun Media partner TVA Sports, Bettman shot down reports that the NHL is eyeing franchises in Quebec City, Las Vegas, Seattle and Toronto.
"It was a complete fabrication," he said of a Sports Business News report last week. "Nothing has changed since the last time that I've addressed this issue publicly.
"The part of the story I found particularly difficult was the suggestion we would sell four franchises for $1.4 billion is way too low," Bettman said. "It undervalues our franchises."
Bettman specifically addressed a separate Vancouver Province report that said a franchise in Vegas was a "done deal."
"In fact, at the time, it was being suggested this was a done deal, I was on vacation," said the commissioner.
Although the NHL boss was just down the highway from Quebec City, he gave no hope to fans in the provincial capital who want their long-lost Nordiques to return.
"We don't want to build up anybody's expectations," he said. "We're not in a position to expand.
"We're certainly not in position to expand into the East. We've been very candid and up front that if in fact we go through an expansion process, the world will know about it. But we're not looking to relocate any franchises, and we're not looking to expand. We've been very clear about that since Day 1 when we were told about the building of the new arena."
He also had words of reassurance for fans of the Florida Panthers, a team that has openly talked about its financial problems in recent weeks.
"Nobody's moving," Bettman insisted.
"And speculation to the contrary not only is wrong, it's unfair to the team and their fans who are being speculated about.
"Stop focusing on the Panthers, they're not going anywhere."
Bettman said his league is in great shape, and the case in point would be the NHL-record 12-year, $5.2-billion media-rights deal with Rogers Sportsnet and TVA Sports.