The NHL is heading to Vegas.
On Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that the league is officially adding an expansion franchise in Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season.
The NHL has granted an expansion franchise to Las Vegas. The team will begin play in 2017-18. pic.twitter.com/8R0WsLDXVi— NHL (@NHL) June 22, 2016
It will be the first new NHL team since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild expansions in 2000-01, and the first of the four major North American pro sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) to come to roost in "Sin City."
The team will reside in the Western Conference's Pacific Division, which sort of fixes a problem created when the NHL realigned divisions a few years ago. Now the Eastern Conference will have 16 teams and the Western Conference will have 15. The NHL will hold an expansion draft at some point, where Las Vegas will be required to draft one player from every team in the league.
The NHL also announced the rules for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft with Las Vegas in the fold:
Here’s how the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery will work with Vegas in the mix: pic.twitter.com/VgKFyv1RFz— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) June 22, 2016
There's no official word on the team name or logo (that should come in a few weeks), but team owner William Foley has said he's partial to "Black Knights:"
"I love the name Black Knights because I was a West Point guy, went to Army, it's close to my heart," he told Sportsnet. "And the black knight, many people don't know this, is actually the good knight. And I think that Black Knights would be a great name."
Foley reportedly paid over $500 million to bring the NHL to Las Vegas, which Bettman confirmed in his press conference. After a slow start, a season ticket drive has netted the franchise more than 14,000 season ticket deposits. A two-thirds vote from the NHL's Board of Governors was required for expansion, and it was approved unanimously.
There it is. pic.twitter.com/JNAJeuX4gU— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) June 22, 2016
Quebec City and Seattle have been in the running for an expansion team for the last few years, but the fluttering Canadian currency and Seattle arena issues put those plans on hold. Per the NHL:
NHL will not expand to Quebec City. It gives three reasons why: pic.twitter.com/r0gpFq9mtI— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 22, 2016
The new Las Vegas team will play home games at the T-Mobile Arena, a 17,500-capacity multi-purpose venue that opened in 2016 on the Las Vegas Strip. The new arena was privately financed by MGM Resorts International and the Anschutz Entertainment Group and cost $375 million to construct.