Toronto — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league has no immediate plans to expand and adjust its unbalanced conference alignment.
“What most people say to me is, ‘Well, there’s 16 teams in the East, 14 in the West. What’s wrong with you? Can’t you count?’ ” Bettman said at a Canadian Club luncheon. “And I say, ‘Yes, I can count, but I also can tell time and we finally have all 16 teams in the Eastern Time Zone in the right place.’
“But you don’t expand just to fulfill somebody’s notion of symmetry. It’s a very important business decision to make, and you do it for the right reasons at the right time.”
The league listens to expressions of interest from markets, but Bettman reiterates there no plans in the works to take on more clubs. A recent Twitter report by Howard Bloom of Sports Business News said the NHL would expand by four teams — Quebec City, Seattle, Las Vegas and Toronto — by 2017.
“I know people think I have this list tucked away in a vault with cities lined up,” Bettman said. “We don’t.”
“This is an important business decision if you’re going to expand,” he added.
“In addition to being one involving a lot of money, it’s a fundamentally important decision if you’re going to do that.”
Lightning rookie forward Jonathan Drouin will miss three to four weeks because of a right thumb injury.