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Las Vegas awarded NHL franchise, starting in 2017-18

The worst-kept secret in hockey is no more. 

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Wednesday that the league will welcome a Las Vegas expansion team to begin play with the 2017-18 season.

“In the fall of 2017, when we celebrate the 100th birthday of the NHL, we will do so as a League of 31 teams,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We are pleased to welcome Bill Foley and the city of Las Vegas to the League and are truly excited that an NHL franchise will be the first major professional sports team in this vibrant, growing, global destination city.”

With Foley, the man who will own the Las Vegas Probably Black Knights franchise, in attendance, Bettman made it official that the league will expand for the first time since adding the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild for the 2000-01 season.

After the League’s executive committee on expansion passed on their recommendation, the NHL’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve Las Vegas and accept their $500 million USD fee.

“On behalf of the Las Vegas Founding 75, our 14,000 season-ticket holders and the entire Las Vegas community, I would like to thank Commissioner Bettman, the NHL staff and the team owners for their support during this process and the confidence they have placed in Las Vegas by awarding this franchise,” said Foley. “I also would like to thank everyone who supported us through this incredible journey. As I’ve said many times over the past year, Las Vegas is a hockey town and we look forward to cheering on our home team.”

The Las Vegas franchise will play in the $375 million T-Mobile Arena which opened earlier this year and have a home in the Pacific Division. They will also have the same draft lottery odds as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 season. They are guaranteed to pick no lower than sixth in the 2017 draft.

Foley will now begin the process of building a front office with the expansion draft set to take place on June 21, 2017. The roster they will assemble will feature at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders and a total of 30 players, one from each NHL team. 

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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