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NHL mum on executive committee expansion meeting

The NHL’s executive committee met in New York City on Tuesday without any further word on possible league expansion. 

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly responded to an email from Puck Daddy and said there “won't be any announcements” on the matter from the executive committee meeting.

It was reported beforehand that a recommendation in regards to how to proceed with expansion would be made in this meeting.

In a news conference before the start of the Stanley Cup Final, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league could expand by one or two teams, defer expansion or decide that the NHL will not expand.

Both Las Vegas and Quebec City are the two teams that are in this expansion process for the league. Both submitted official bids last July.

An endorsement (if one was made) would go to the league’s Board of Governors for official approval when they meet on June 22 in Las Vegas in advance of the NHL Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

A decision on expansion by the Board of Governors would require a 24 vote approval.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun pointed out that a recommendation could end up on the NHL’s official agenda before the meeting in Las Vegas, but word on specifics of Tuesday’s executive committee meeting will be tight-lipped before then.  

The executive committee consists of owners from the Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals.

Bill Foley, who leads the Las Vegas expansion bid, has gone through all the necessary requirements to have a team ready for 2017-18. He has a beautiful new arena in the heart of the strip that’s ready for action. He has plans for a practice facility in Summerlin. He hit 14,000 season ticket deposits.

The league is looking at a $500 million fee from each team if the NHL decides to expand.

A decision now would mean the NHL would beat the NFL as far as being the first major North American sport to announce its entrance into the Las Vegas market. The Oakland Raiders could start play there as early as 2017 but the Raiders and the NFL haven’t come to an agreement on whether the franchise will move to Las Vegas.

In February of 2015, the Las Vegas market started a ticket drive to prove to the NHL that they were worthy of an NHL franchise.

At the time it was believed the NHL wanted to expand into Las Vegas and Seattle, but Seattle did not get in a bid at the deadline last July. Quebec City did.

Since then the NHL has staunchly said Quebec City and Las Vegas were the only two teams in this process. Meanwhile a potential Seattle bid has been riddled with arena issues and doesn't seem to be a legit possibility at this moment.

The league has been lukewarm on the Quebec City expansion bid and Quebecor chairman Brian Mulroney has continuously lowered expectations to his local fanbase. It’s believed the league would rather have Quebec City as a relocation spot in case a current franchise hits trouble.

In the recent past the NHL relocated the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg and that has paid dividends with a high level of fan support and stable ownership.

The NHL has said it’s not worried about recent issues with the Carolina Hurricanes ownership, but having a ready-made market like Quebec City could help alleviate any potential trouble with the Hurricanes or other teams that could struggle in the next year or two.

If the NHL adds one eastern team in Quebec City and one western team in Las Vegas, the league’s divisional alignment would still have problems. Currently there are currently 14 teams in the Western Conference and 16 teams in the Eastern Conference.

“There are issues at 17 and 15 (teams) that I know are more difficult than 14 and 16,” Bettman said on Prime Time Sports in early June. “And I think that if you asked for example, Columbus or Detroit, who went East, they would not happily or be agreeable to moving back to the West.”

The NHL has been preparing for expansion in 2017-18 for some time and have mostly agreed on draft rules for teams.

The hope is that it will be the deepest expansion draft in NHL history so the new team can thrive early.  

Everything appears to be in place. All the league needs now is official word from owners.

“It's been an ongoing process, as you can tell. There's a lot of different issues that are related to expansion and potential expansion. A lot of those issues aren't solely in either the applicant's control or the NHL's control. A lot necessarily involve input from third parties,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “The timetable is what the timetable is. I think we've made really good progress, and that's why we hope to at least have more guidance by the 22nd of June.  But it's not been a quick process certainly.”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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