NHL officials say they're not close to awarding new franchise

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by CHRIS DANIELS / KING5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on December 10, 2013 at 7:40 PM

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.  - The NHL's Owners gathered for a second day at a posh resort and celebrated what they say is an improved financial picture.

But quizzed about if it's robust enough to expand, they quickly bolt for the exit.

"You gotta talk to the commissioner about stuff like that.  It's strictly a league matter," said Philadelphia Flyers Owner Ed Snider as he rushed out the door of the Inn at Spanish Bay.

Multiple US, and Canadian, outlets have reported the league is extremely interested in adding teams, and that Seattle is a top priority.  NHL great Jeremy Roenick was in Seattle last week, kicking the tires on a possible franchise.

However, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday "there is no ranking."

"We're getting lots of expressions of interest, and no decisions have been made to do anything other than listen," Bettman said after the meeting.

His chief deputy Bill Daly, admitted the league office has "taken meetings" on the issue, but that there needs to be a "confluence" of factors, including an arena, and solid stable ownership group.

"I have clearly acknowledged the Pacific Northwest has a strong interest in hockey," added Daly.

Bettman also discounted suggestions that he's laid out a timeline for expansion. 

"We're not talking 14-15. I don't even know we're talking 15-16. What we're talking is when were expressions of interest are given."

Prior to any expansion, the league will take a break for the Olympics in Sochi.

"It's going to be a different experience no doubt. It's an entirely different set of circumstance. It's a long way away and it's a created Olympic Park and community, built from the ground up, brand new facilities," said Daly. "It's looks like it'll all get done on time, and it'll be great hockey."

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