It’s not secret that Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta wants and NHL franchise. The billionaire has had preliminary discussions with the NHL about either bringing an expansion team to the Houston area, or possibly relocating one of the league’s current 31 teams.
In the case of relocation, the targets are obvious. The Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes have all struggled on the ice and off the ice in recent years, fuelling rumors of relocation almost weekly. Even Canadian franchises like the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators are on shaky ground these days. But one NHL insider, TSN’s Darren Dreger dropped a bomb on the hockey world yesterday by reporting that Houston and another city rumored in expansion talks, Seattle, have been rumored as potential destinations for the struggling Coyotes.
“I’m told that in that meeting specific to the National Hockey League, there wasn’t a defined interest. But now there are some who want to link Houston, maybe Seattle, to the ongoing speculation surrounding the Coyotes and possible relocation, but I’m told that the Coyotes and the National Hockey League are currently working on yet another arena process…”
So… are they moving or not? The arena saga in Phoenix/Glendale seems to be endless. While the NHL certainly wants to make things works in the desert, they have a billionaire owner who’s interested, has a good building and has the money to make things happen tomorrow. That HAS to be enticing to the NHL. And what about Seattle? With a huge renovation planned for KeyArena and no NBA franchise around to fill seats, is the NHL missing out on a huge opportunity in the Pacific Northwest?
The expansion and relocation talk is just getting started. With so much uncertainty in some many markets these days, it’s only a matter of time until the shoe drops in at least one scenario. When it does look for Houston, Seattle and Quebec City to be there with arms wide open.