BOSTON -- Jeremy Jacobs, the NHL’s chairman of the board of governors and owner of the Boston Bruins, had some candid remarks Thursday about the possibility of expansion.
Jacobs admitted the expansion process is moving forward after listening to presentations this week from Quebec and Las Vegas, two of the bidders looking to add an NHL franchise.
"There’s a lot of content there. There’s a lot of capability there, but I don’t know if there’s a desire or will within the board of the existing franchises for expansion yet," Jacobs said. "They both made pretty interesting proposals. Both have very legitimate arenas in place and organizations in place. There’s a capacity out there, but I don’t know if there’s a will from a league standpoint."
Jacobs said he feels good about the current status of the 30-team league, and that there was no preconceived notion about expanding to 32.
"I think it’s more important -- what is the best thing for the league as a whole, and what’s the best thing for Boston," he said. "Right now, the 30 teams are pretty good for all of us; talking where we stand today, I feel good about where we are."
Since there are already 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the Western Conference, Jacobs did say he would rather see a team in the West.
While Jacobs admitted Quebec has the history and a beautiful new arena with a strong fan base, he believes Las Vegas would be more viable.
"Take a look at what’s gone up in Nevada -- it’s scary. I mean, it really is. It’s a heck of an arena built there, and there’s a strong interest there," Jacobs said. "Balance the fact, Quebec has a great hockey interest, [but] it’s an extraordinarily small market."
When a comment was made that the league wouldn’t want to expand into Quebec because the franchise could then possibly fail, Jacobs said: "No, we don’t want to do it again."
Jacobs admitted he was a bit surprised that only Quebec and Las Vegas applied for expansion. Applicants had to pay $10 million up front, and would surrender $2 million if not selected. Jacobs said the thinking behind the process was to weed out those groups that thought it would be a low-cost entry.
"Take a look and see who applied. We had no applications from Toronto -- interesting," Jacobs said. "We had no applications from Toronto, so that says a lot. We had two legitimate ones, Quebec and Nevada -- it speaks volumes. I’d love to see us in the West to be up in Seattle. Seattle’s a natural, and I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building. There are conditions and circumstances in each one of these that we have to take into consideration."
Jacobs added that, while there’s no "clear-cut answer" to expansion, the process will continue.
Based on the league’s salary-cap system, Jacobs added that a new expansion team could enjoy quick success.
"We’ve got ourselves a real opportunity here to build these new franchises quickly," he said.