Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertilla hasn't been shy about his desire to bring another National Hockey League franchise to Texas — and he doubled down on that stance this week.

“We would like to work to get an NHL team in Houston,” the 66-year-old told the Houston Chronicle's Greg Rajan on Wednesday. “I'm working on it.”

There has never been an NHL franchise in Houston, but the Aeros — who played in the World Hockey Association in the 1970s, International Hockey League from 1994-2001 and American Hockey League until 2013, were considered a professional team.

And it was the Toyota Center — the current home of the Rockets — that hosted the Aeros from 2003-13.

Tilman Fertitta has wanted to bring an NHL team to Houston for 7 years

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta smiles during the third quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Back in 2017, Fertilla told the Houston Chronicle that he would “put an NHL team here tomorrow.”

“This one has got to work. But I'd love to have the other dates in the building. Do I want to see Toyota Center filled up 300 nights a year? Definitely. We'll do whatever we can do, but whatever we do has to make sense. … Will we be aggressive? Yes. That's my nature.”

Fertilla bought the Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017; the team plays home games at the 19,000 seat Toyota Center in downtown Houston. That could be repurposed into a 17,800 seat rink, similar to how many NHL and NBA franchises make use of the same building during their respective seasons.

“We have to make sure hockey fans in Houston, Texas and Houstonians will come out and support an NHL team,” Fertitta continued at the time, per the Houston Chronicle.

“When the Aeros left they were drawing 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 a game. If we have an NHL team, we have to put 16,000 in that stadium every night, 17,000, 18,000. If I go out and get an NHL team, I'm going to ask the citizens of Houston to make sure they commit to help me do it. None of this is successful without the fans out there.”

Fertilla said back in February that he had been “talking to the NHL,” with the conversations picking up more steam as of late. And with reports surfacing that the Arizona Coyotes could be moving to Salt Lake City, could there be two new franchises at play in the next few seasons?

Arizona drama continues

The Coyotes might finally be leaving Arizona behind. Multiple reports broke on Wednesday stating that the team could relocate to Utah as soon as next season.

The league is also reportedly drafting multiple schedules if the team does indeed move to Salt Lake City. Those rumors have run rampant for years, especially with attendance issues, and the uncertainty has only increased since the squad moved to the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena at the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

While the franchise was trying to build a new arena complex in Tempe, voters shut down the idea for an entertainment district last May. Now, NHL hockey could be leaving Arizona for good.

The Seattle Kraken were the latest team to join the league, commencing play in 2021-22 and advancing all the way to Game 7 of the Western Conference second-round in 2023 — just their second year of existence.

Whether or not Houston and Salt Lake City will get an opportunity to house an NHL franchise is still up in the air. But with the league continuing to explore new markets, it wouldn't be surprising if both cities had a team in the next couple of years.