The Anschutz influence
The NHL's expansion plans were solidified when Anschutz's AEG entered into a partnership with Harrah's to build an arena on Harrah's property near the Las Vegas strip. The new building will be opened in 2010 and it appears that Las Vegas already has an owner in movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who has spoken with NHL officials about placing a team in Las Vegas.
Neither Kansas City nor Las Vegas is a big TV market. But if Anschutz wants teams in those markets, the odds are pretty good that his fellow NHL owners, along with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, will see it his way.
League politics dictated previous expansion plans, when markets like Tampa Bay and Ottawa received teams despite the fact other, more reasonable ownership bids were in the running. That's going to be the case again here, with the only caveat being that two current franchises could very well be set to relocate by 2010, meaning the NHL would suddenly need four new markets, two to be pulled from parts unknown.
Perhaps Anschutz needs to build a few more rinks.