Daly: December earliest NHL would vote on Seattle expansion

FILE - In this April 11, 2018, file photo, Tod Leiweke, center, chats with his brothers Tracey Leiweke, left, and Tim Leiweke as they pose for a photo following a news conference naming Tod Leiweke as the president and CEO for a prospective NHL expansion hockey team, in Seattle. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says December is the earliest the Board of Governors will vote on potential expansion to Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — December is the earliest the NHL Board of Governors will vote on potential expansion to Seattle, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday.

Daly also called it "doubtful" any formal vote will happen on a Seattle franchise between meetings in October and December. Seattle Hockey Partners, the group looking to bring the NHL to the Pacific Northwest, will make a presentation to board's executive committee on Oct. 2. No vote will take place that day.

"We would have the vote in person," Daly said, referring to the annual December meeting that will take place in Florida.

The Vegas Golden Knights played their first season in 2017-18 as the league's 31st team. While Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated repeatedly the NHL is in no rush to expand, there are positives beyond what will be a $650 million expansion fee.

"It does provide alignment for the league," Daly said. "We've been misaligned for a couple years in the sense of more teams in the East and less in the West, so that would be a benefit if we were to expand."

After four seasons of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the West, it was 16 and 15 last year with Vegas. The prospective Seattle ownership group has targeted the 2020-21 season to start, though that's pending renovations of KeyArena.

Having an arena plan in place is one of the final pieces to getting the NHL to Seattle. Season-ticket deposits are sold out, and Daly said he has seen nothing to indicate any concern about Seattle as a hockey market.

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno

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