Daly refutes Kelly's comments about NHL expansion plans Staff

1/30/2013 10:54:12 AM

After a marathon session on Tuesday night, city councilors in Markham, Ontario voted in favour of financing an NHL-sized arena with no guarantee of a franchise to follow.
But at the council meeting, former executive director of the NHL Players' Association Paul Kelly said, while he held the position from 2007-2009, he was made aware of plans for the NHL to add two expansion teams and that they would likely be placed in Toronto and Quebec.
However, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly refuted those comments on Wednesday.
"There's never been a plan to expand to 32 teams," Daly told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun of "Whether we talked conceptually at some point if things are going well whether we could expand to 32, I'm sure we suggested we could, but we certainly never reached the point where that was appropriate when Paul Kelly was executive director of the NHLPA and I'd say we haven't got there at this point.
"I'd say any sports league aspires to be in a position where expansion is a good idea," added Daly. "But again, it's got to be the right circumstances."
While Kelly was heading up the NHLPA, Jim Balsillie was attempting to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the team to southern Ontario and Daly thinks Kelly may be referring to conversations about rules around that scenario regarding a second team in Toronto Maple Leafs territory.
"And our position has consistently been that our rules do not give the Maple Leafs a right to veto another franchise in the Toronto territory," Daly told LeBrun. "That's something that the board of governors would decide, if the board decided it was a good idea."
Daly admits the league has had discussions with the Markham group in recent years, but at no point have any promises of a franchise been made.
"This is probably something they've been in contact with us, off and on, over the last two to three years," Daly told LeBrun. "And what we've told them consistently is, 'You have to make the decision that's in the best interests of the city of Markham on the full assumption that you will not be getting an NHL franchise. If it makes sense as a project on that basis, go ahead and build it. That's your decision. But you should not assume there's going to be an NHL franchise there. Either in the short term, or in the long term.'"
Daly added the league has no plans in the works to expand to 32 teams or relocate any current teams.