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Gary Bettman Says No to Second Toronto NHL Team

Martin AverySenior Writer IFebruary 3, 2009

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman killed the possibility of a second NHL franchise in southern Ontario while speaking in Toronto today (Tuesday).

Bettman said no to the idea of creating a new team and to moving an existing franchise to the Toronto area. It was a shift from last week, where, at the All-Star news conference, he said that if the league was to expand or was forced to consider relocation, Toronto could probably handle a second team.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has also said that Toronto could handle two teams. This adds to the discussion of a second NHL team in Toronto or elsewhere in southern Ontario, such as Hamilton or Kitchener/Waterloo.

Buffalo fans are concerned because southern Ontario accounts for 15 to 20 percent of the Sabres’ fanbase; adding a team in Canada could mean fewer fans at Sabre games.

The Globe And Mail, Canada's national newspaper, reported last week that the NHL governors are talking informally about placing a second team in Toronto alongside the Maple Leafs.

Ontario already has the Ottawa Senators and the Leafs, with the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings not far away. Even so, many believe Toronto should have as many hockey teams as New York City.

However, as of Tuesday, Bettman has pretty much ruled out that idea as he wants all the NHL teams to stay where they are and he does not want to start a new franchise.