There is what seems to be perpetual interest in bringing an NHL team to Houston.
The interest, however, isn’t mutual at this time for hockey’s premier league to grow beyond its current 32 teams, commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday.
“It’s not anything we’re looking at right now in terms of ‘OK, it’s time to expand,’ ” Bettman said at a meeting with a group of Associated Press Sports Editors in New York.
The latest round of NHL-to-Houston speculation flared up last month, with chatter from two prominent ESPN commentators and a leading hockey insider in Canadian media saying “there is definitely something with both Atlanta and Houston and the NHL.”
But Bettman on Tuesday said the league is content at 32 teams, the number it reached after adding expansion franchises in Las Vegas and Seattle in 2017 and 2021, respectively. Houston has not had a pro hockey team since the American Hockey League’s Aeros moved to Des Moines, Iowa, after the 2012-13 season.
“I don’t think it’s our manifest destiny to have 34, 36 or 38 teams,” Bettman said Tuesday. “I think we’re great at 32. We have a terrific footprint. But yeah, places like, in no particular order, Quebec City, Atlanta, Houston, Salt Lake City are all expressing interest. But it’s not something that in the moment we’re dealing with. I don’t know if we will or we won’t.”
We’ve been talking about bringing an NHL team to Houston for over a decade, even before the minor league team that was in existence at the time vamoosed to Iowa. Hasn’t been much talk lately, though Pasadena tried to lure a minor league team a few years ago. I’m not a huge hockey fan – daughter #2 has picked up an interest in the sport; I owe her a trip to Dallas to see the Stars in the fall – but it would be fun to have a team here. As has always been the case, maybe someday.