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Hockey for Houston (again)?

It could happen.

It’s early, the initial talks have only been exploratory and Mike D’Antoni doesn’t have to worry about slipping on the hardwood any time soon. But I can tell you this: [Tilman] Fertitta and Co. are interested if the NHL can make its end of the bargain work. And if Houston finally gets its long delayed Big Four, it could happen much sooner than later.

“I’m very interested in the possibility of bringing the NHL to Houston,” Fertitta said Thursday in a statement. “But it will have to be a deal that works for my organization, the city, fans of the NHL throughout the region and the NHL Board of Governors. We are in the very early stage of evaluating what opportunities may exist but look forward to a thorough process.”

That’s Fertitta. Straight shooter. No cookie-cutter filter.

Barely a month after he was officially introduced as the Rockets’ new owner – I’m still seeing stars from all the camera flashes – he’s met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and reiterated the obvious: Pro hockey could make serious sense in Houston.

Fertitta has discussed his potential interest in an NHL team since he officially became the Rockets owner, so this is no surprise. If you’re wondering whether this is an overly optimistic view, it’s one that is shared by actual hockey people.

Why doesn’t Seattle have an NHL franchise yet, and why is Houston probably going to get one?

Because one didn’t pass the Gary Bettman Test when it needed to, and the other very well might when it has to.

The Bettman Test has been applied to a dozen markets throughout his tenure as NHL commissioner. The first phase of the test is the most obvious one: Does the NHL plan to expand? Does the league have a need to relocate a struggling franchise to a more viable market?

Spoiler alert: Houston passes the Bettman Test with ease. That doesn’t mean we will get an NHL team, but if the opportunity arises, we will be at the front of the line. I went to some Aeros games in the 90s, and it was a lot of fun – hockey is a great sport to watch live, because the action is basically nonstop. But that was paying minor league prices in the old Compaq Center, not NHL prices at the Toyota Center. I’d have to see what kind of financial commitment it would require. How interested would you be to attend an Aeros 3.0 game?

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4 Comments

  1. Alex Bunin says:

    Extremely interested.

  2. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    No. No. No!!!!!

    I don’t want my cable bill to go up by another 100 bucks a year in order to get non-sports programming as any NHL team will rely on the ‘must take’ cable contract to fund itself. Also, I’m not interested in raising my taxes or providing any taxpayer benefits to a billionaire using our borrowing capacity.

    I don’t want the Harris County Sports people feeding us more BS about how this event or that event ‘made money’ when they just appear to spend most of the ‘gains’ on giveaways like new arena video screens for the venue. It doesn’t ‘make money’ unless it returns money to the taxpayers.

    If you want a NHL team, figure out how to do it without making the millions of Houstonians that have zero interest in it pay for it.

    And this better not be some gambit by Tillman to get the taxpayers to help fund his purchase of the Rockets.

  3. brad m says:

    Ticket prices will be stratospheric compared to the old IHL and AHL Aeros’ prices which I attended regularly.

    I may go once in a blue moon at most.

  4. Steve Houston says:

    I’m with Tom.

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