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Las Vegas, Quebec City, even Seattle remain in the mix for expansion, relocation

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No timetable yet for NHL expansion (3:03)

Craig Custance and Pierre LeBrun recap the first day of the NHL's Board of Governors meeting, including news on future expansion of the league. (3:03)

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Which city should get the NHL's next expansion franchise?

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: The NHL's expansion process remains alive, moving at a snail's pace, perhaps, but still alive. My question is what you guys would do if you had your choice of expansion cities. The league's update Monday to the board of governors here in Pebble Beach, California, was the most detailed yet in terms of sharing the due diligence that's been done since the Quebec City and Las Vegas applicants delivered their official proposals in late September. Still, we don't have a real sense of when (or if) an actual expansion vote will occur. If I had my way, I would expand to Las Vegas in order to give the Western Conference a 15th team, keeping Quebec City in my back pocket for a potential relocation situation. This would also give Seattle time to get its act together and re-enter the picture, perhaps balancing the conference at some point in the future. Thoughts, gentlemen?


Craig Custance@CraigCustance: We're very much on the same page, Pierre. I would grant Las Vegas the only team from this round of expansion, and I would make a big announcement at this season's All-Star game in Nashville. It is Nashvegas, after all. Expanding by one team would buy some time for the folks in Seattle, who are still trying to find a way to get a building done, even if commissioner Gary Bettman shot down any speculation that the league is waiting on Seattle. "I know I've seen the articles speculating that things have slowed down to wait for somebody else or somewhere else to apply, those stories are categorically untrue," Bettman said during his news conference here in Pebble Beach. That may be true, but it doesn't stop the league from going through this process again after Vegas is granted a team. Perhaps Seattle will finally have things figured out on the arena front by then.


Sean McIndoe@DownGoesBrown: It certainly seems like the scenario you guys describe is the direction we're headed. Everyone assumes that a team in Las Vegas is a matter of "when," not "if," and you'd have to think that if the NHL really wanted Quebec, they'd already be taking more aggressive steps to get there. But here's my question: How long can you jerk the Quebec market around before you start to do damage? The NHL asked for potential expansion markets to step up, and Quebec City did. Now, the league is hemming and hawing and getting cold feet, and the widespread assumption is that they'd prefer Seattle and would rather save Quebec for relocation. At what point do fans of the once and future Nordiques start getting frustrated? I'm not suggesting that the market is going to change its mind, or say "no thanks" to future expansion or relocation. But this is starting to get awkward, like telling a first date that they were only your second or third choice. It's not exactly how you want to start a new relationship.


Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: Sean, I think that's a great question, but probably one asked more by media or fans, or even fans who would potentially buy NHL tickets. After decades of having their emotions toyed with, you could drop a team in Hamilton tomorrow and the tickets would go in a hurry. That's my guess, at least. And the NHL is acknowledging the Quebec market and its desire to return to the NHL with a wildly successful exhibition game in September, and it's expected that Quebec City will host some training camp activity (perhaps even an exhibition game) leading up to the World Cup of Hockey next September. The bottom line is the NHL really doesn't owe Quebec City or its fans anything. Would it be nice to have a team there? Sure. But it's not as critical as getting Las Vegas in place and helping correct the current imbalance between the conferences, and really finding out about Seattle. Finally, the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes have to resolve their own building issues before Quebec gets a sniff of expansion love. Fair or not, that means more waiting for Quebec City.


Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeyMac: When I spoke with Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of the board of governors and owner of the Boston Bruins, at the start of the season, he said he didn't know if there was a desire for expansion. He mentioned how impressed he was with what's going on in Las Vegas, and also said he would prefer the Seattle market, maybe even Houston, rather than Quebec. Jacobs believed Quebec was too small and not capable of sustained success and profitability. Jacobs is an educated and successful man, but I say he's wrong. I believe hockey can work in Quebec, maybe even thrive. If it can work in Winnipeg, which it does very well, Quebec deserves a chance too. I would go with Las Vegas and Quebec.


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