Report: Gary Bettman meets with Rockets owner about potential Houston team

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has his eyes on bringing hockey to Houston. USATSI

Nearly a month after a report indicated the NHL would have a hard time keeping its eyes off arena availability in Houston, there is more reason to believe hockey could ultimately end up in the city.

The Athletic's Katie Strang reported this week that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently hosted Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta at the league's offices in New York. And while Bettman "refuted the notion that the NHL was actively looking for relocation options," Strang suggested the commissioner's meeting with Fertitta centered on "preliminary discussions about the viability" of bringing the NHL to Houston.

It marks the latest in a long line of developments regarding a potential NHL presence in Houston, for which Fertitta has openly campaigned. There was speculation about the city as a possible landing spot for a new team -- or a relocated one -- upon Fertitta's $2.2 billion purchase of the Rockets in September, especially since the NBA team's Toyota Arena would then be in new hands and ready for future NHL accessibility.

Bettman has insisted on several occasions that the NHL is not prioritizing additional relocation or expansion, but as Strang pointed out, there is no shortage of franchises that could have their sights set on finding a new home. The Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Arizona Coyotes and New York Islanders have all made headlines in recent months, some struggling to meet Bettman's demand for new arenas and others simply looking to get out of their current ones.

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