Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said Thursday he is "in the very early stage of evaluating" the opportunity to bring an NHL team to Houston.
That came on the heels of a report that Fertitta recently met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The Athletic, citing multiple sources, reported Wednesday that Fertitta and Bettman met at league headquarters in New York. Bettman declined comment to the website about the meeting, adding "we're not relocating any clubs right now."
Regarding a possible team in Houston, Bettman said, "If Houston were to express an interest in having an NHL franchise, under the right circumstances, it's something we might want to consider."I'm not a huge hockey fan, but I do think Houston - as of right now, the largest city in the nation without an NHL franchise - should have, and can support, a team. Now that the biggest impediment to Houston having a hockey team - former Rockets owner Les Alexander - is out of the picture, it appears like Fertitta and the NHL are moving in that direction, although it will probably take some time to work everything out.
As for what the potential team should be named, well, that's easy: if the Aeros name is still available (it's unclear who currently owns the rights to it), then there's no reason not to use the name most closely associated with hockey in Houston. (And no, Chronicle, people have never confused the "Aeros" with the "Astros" in the past.)
ESPN's Greg Wyshynski thinks that Houston easily passes the "Bettman Test" for an NHL franchise, while John Royal thinks an NHL team in Houston is inevitable. Kuff also weighs in.