If you were to wager on the owners of an NHL team in Las Vegas, the Maloof family would have been around even money.
They owned the Sacramento Kings in the NBA. They have a relationship with Gary Bettman that goes back to 2008, when the league made the infinitely wise decision to move its awards show from Vanilla, Canada, to Sin City’s Palms Casino Resort.
Lo and behold, the Maloofs and billionaire William P. Foley have been selected by the league as the ownership group that will move forward, if expansion to Las Vegas is in the cards over the next few seasons. The Hockey News had the news first, and it’s since been confirmed by the New York Post and the Las Vegas Journal-Review.
Foley is chairman of mortgage giant Fidelity National Financial and owns over a dozen wineries. His involvement with the Vegas bid has been known since last month.
The Hockey News went one step further and said the NHL Board of Governors had quietly approved the group as owners of a Las Vegas team, although NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied that to THN:
“There was virtually no discussion about Las Vegas (or expansion for that matter) at the last Board meeting,” Daly wrote in his email. “Far from a ‘done deal.’ Still have to deal with the foundational question of whether we want to expand at all and if so how do we want to do it. And that hasn’t really been broached with the BoG yet. After that, we will have to tackle whether Las Vegas is the right market, and specifically, whether we think it can support an NHL franchise long term. I think more work needs to be done on that issue as well.”
That said, it sounds like the NHL has at least settled on a group to work with should expansion to Las Vegas happen. Which means, one assumes, a fee has been discussed and everyone’s happy with it.
But ultimately, expansion to Vegas will require Board of Governor approval and another team entering the league in the West. Bettman has enough lapdogs, er, allies on the BoG to rubber-stamp Vegas if he wants Vegas.
As for the other factor, you still get the sense the league wants Seattle in a bad way, but that NBA-first arena deal remains a huge stumbling block. (Oh, the irony then of the Maloof family being in on the Vegas bid.)
Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period looked at the other options, including Quebec City and … Kansas City?
More NHL coverage on Yahoo Sports: