The National Hockey League is reportedly looking to expand, perhaps adding two new teams to help balance out the league’s two conferences.
One of the cities under serious consideration for a franchise is Las Vegas, and while that might not sound like the perfect spot for an ice hockey team, the bid certainly has a great spokesman in Daniel Negreanu.
Negreanu is a lifelong hockey fan, and while he may not get to own the Toronto Maple Leafs that he loved so much as a child, having a stake in a Las Vegas team might be the next best thing.
In a recent interview with the Toronto Sun, Negreanu said that he was all but certain that Las Vegas would be the home of an NHL team sooner rather than later.
Las Vegas Considered Expansion Favorite
That’s not a shocking take: after all, Las Vegas has been at the forefront of expansion talk (along with Quebec City) for a while now, and a decision on whether the NHL wants to expand could come sometime this year.
But Negreanu is more than confident, saying that he believes there is a “99.9 percent” chance of Las Vegas landing a team.
“I just don’t see it not happening,” Negreanu told the newspaper. “We have a solid owner, an arena, and we sold 13,000 season tickets.”
Those tickets aren’t real quite yet, considering that there isn’t even a team to see play at this point. But it was a strong show of support masterminded by billionaire Bill Foley, who would be the primary owner of the team, and Negreanu, who has served as one of the biggest public faces of the effort.
Earlier this year, potential fans of the team (which Negreanu would like to see named the Las Vegas Rat Pack) were given the opportunity to purchase a down payment on season tickets for $150.
Foley thought 10,000 commitments would be a great statement; the fact that they easily surpassed that amount was even better.
There have been criticisms of the idea of bringing hockey to Las Vegas, given the prominence of the gaming industry there and the fact that hockey seems to be a strange fit for the desert.
But Negreanu says that even if Vegas isn’t known as a hockey town yet, it could easily become one.
“People say there’s no hockey culture in Vegas,” Negreanu said. “They said the same about San Jose, and now San Jose is Sharks Town.”
Harwood Wins National Championship, Negreanu Finishes 6th
Negreanu’s comments came on the heels of his final table finish at the World Series of Poker National Championship, which took place at the Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.
Negreanu ultimately finished seventh in the tournament, which featured 100 qualifiers from the WSOP Circuit (each of whom enjoyed a free buy-in worth $10,000), as well as 22 top players from the last two years of the World Series proper, each of whom paid a $10,000 buy-in to participate.
While Negreanu appeared to be in good position heading into the final day of play, he would ultimately go out in sixth place, adding $63,647 to his career earnings of well over $30 million.
The tournament was ultimately won by Loni Harwood, who held the chip lead for most of the final table. Harwood earned her second career gold bracelet for the win, along with a prize of $341,599.