NHL Rumors: NHL Expansion Speculation – Houston and Atlanta

Sportsnet: Elliotte Friedman on The Jeff Marek Show talking the NHL expansion rumors and the cities of Houston and Atlanta.

** NHLRumors.com transcription

Marek: “What I wanted to specifically talk to you about today Friedge, is something we mentioned on our podcast and I’m not sure if it was you and I mentioned in or I just mentioned it later on the radio broadcast , but stories about Atlanta and Houston.

And the one thing I found doing either the podcast or this show, is the minute you mention something that’s been whispered, all of a sudden people start calling and start talking and start saying, ‘well you’re on to something, but here’s where you’re wrong. You need to look in this direction instead.”

Friedman: “Yes.”

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Marek: “There is definitely something. I don’t know how close or far away it is, but there is definitely something with both Atlanta and Houston and the NHL. I always think I have to preface this by apologizing to Quebec Nordiques fans but there is definitely something happening with Atlanta and Houston, Elliotte. Agree, Disagree?”

Friedman: “Well I think that there is something happening but I think the question is how far down the road we are. The NHL is trying to put, throw some cold water on this. And the one thing, which I get, they don’t want everything to get out of control here.

The one thing I think, and I absolutely agree with Jeff, is that I think Houston will someday be an NHL city. I do. I just don’t know if it’s expansion or it’s relocation. If this whole Arizona situation doesn’t work with the new building, I have to think Houston is that likely location, right?

It’s a natural rival for Dallas. It’s the largest market in the US that doesn’t have a team. There’s a lot of things that make sense there. The one issue with Houston is, they don’t really have an arena. Obviously, there’s one where the Rockets play, but the league has met with that ownership group before and has been underwhelmed by what it heard.

So I look at that as, I think if they go there, they want to go there in their own situation and the guy I look at for this is Tim Leiweke. Tim Leiweke is a guy who solves arena problems. For example, one of the reasons the Seattle Kraken are in the NHL is because they couldn’t get an area for a long time and he went in there and solved that problem.  So, I’ve said this before, this is not the first time I’ve said this, but I do believe the long-term play there potentially, is him solving his problem, and I do think that if that happens, Houston will be in the league.

Atlanta for me is a tougher sell, Jeff. I mean it’s already been twice. I know that one of the things that’s talked about here, is part of this whole story, is that the rink would not be downtown where the Hawks play. It would be a suburb called Alpharetta because it makes more sense to have an NHL team there.

Just for me, I think you’d have to sell me on it. Like you would really have to sell me on it as to why it would work. And I will tell you, Jeff, I had someone who said to me that he thinks that if there’s one city we’re not talking about here, it’s Kansas City. No big winter sport. No NBA team. AEG arena, another group that the NHL has a connection with from the (Los Angeles) Kings.

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What this guy, he was really going down the rabbit hole with me. He says, ‘Look, like, you make Patrick Mahomes an investor like Marshawn Lynch is and Ryan Reynolds might be, you’ve got like a home run.

But, what this story has definitely done Jeff, is kicked up some dust. There’s no question about that. We’ll see where we go here.”

** NHLRumors.com transcription