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Around 2030, the NHL could increase its number of teams to 36.
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

In 2023, Bill Daly said that expansion was not necessarily in the NHL’s plans.

But in 2024, that statement seems to have changed, since all we’ve been hearing about lately is expansion. The future is uncertain for the Coyotes (we wonder if they’ll move), Salt Lake City would like to be included in the discussions and Atlanta has just launched a major amphitheatre project.

Kansas City, Houston and Quebec City, among many others, also remain in the mix.

But what exactly is the timetable for adding teams? The league is expected to grow to 34 teams soon. However, the Coyotes issue is slowing down the process.

Two owners even told David Pagnotta that the NHL even wants to have 36 teams in the next few years, four more than the current 32. The journalist suspects this will happen around 2030.

Four teams in six years: that would be big!

Before thinking about new teams, however, Gary Bettman and his group will have to find a solution for the Arizona Coyotes. Will they stay? Will they move? These are the thousand-dollar questions.

As the commissioner mentioned to The Hot Stove on Sunday, Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo is hard at work on the file.

Alex Meruelo is trying to acquire a specific piece of land where he could build a new arena in an ideal location, with an entertainment, retail and residential district, and it’s something he’s working on and hopes to bring to fruition in the next few weeks or months. – Gary Bettman

The league’s number one priority is to stay in Arizona. It’s a good sports market, you just need to find the ideal land to build a home.

As indicated in Pagnotta’s text, if the Coyotes stayed in Arizona, club 33 would be in Utah and 34 in Atlanta. Houston, Quebec City and Kansas City in there? They’ll eventually get their chance with the 35th and 36th franchises, I imagine…

One thing’s for sure, hockey “is where it should be”, assures Bettman, who has stated that all candidacies are taken seriously. Even Quebec City, Gary?

In bursts

– Speaking of expansion.

– To be continued tomorrow.

– Great read on Mike Matheson.

– Can’t wait to see this.

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