The Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
Photo credit: KSL News Radio

A major player just submitted an official request to own the next NHL expansion franchise

Published January 24, 2024 at 10:32

There's a lot going on in the NHL right now, with the All-Star weekend on the way next week, the ongoing 2018 Hockey Canada WJC scandal, which may lead to multiple NHLers having their contracts terminated, and now, rumours of potential expansion.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman is reporting on Wednesday that Smith Entertainment Group, owner of the NBA's Utah Jazz, would like to house the NHL's next expansion team and has asked the National Hockey League to "initiate an expansion process" that would award them the NHL's 33rd franchise.

Smith Entertainment Group told the NHL in their official request that they currently already have the ability to bring a team to Salt Lake City, Utah and can offer the Delta Center as a temporary home until a new arena can be built, ahead of the 2034 Olympics.

You can see the full request in Friedman's post below:

The National Hockey League has released an official statement, confirming ongoing conversations with Smith Entertainment Group. By all appearances, this is more than just smoke.

"The NHL appreciates the interest expressed by Smith Entertainment Group to bring NHL hockey to Utah. During conversations over the course of the past two years, we have been impressed by Ryan and Ashley Smith's commitment to their community and their passion and vision for Utah, not only as a hockey market, but as a preeminent sports and entertainment destination. Utah is a promising market, and we look forward to continuing our discussions."

Some of the other cities who are interested in housing the next NHL expansion franchise include Quebec City, Houston, Atlanta, and a second team in the Greater Toronto Area. It wouldn't be surprising to see the NHL deliver two expansion teams should they decide to expand again, which would give the NHL 34 franchises as opposed to an odd number like 33, which could create scheduling challenges as well as divisional alignment challenges.
January 24   |   394 answers
A major player just submitted an official request to own the next NHL expansion franchise

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