NHL awards expansion franchise to Las Vegas

Photo by Chris Smith

The NHL will have 31 teams when Las Vegas joins the league in 2017-18. Today, the league's Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of a new franchise in the desert. And we'll know the new club's name and see its logo by October!

This is exciting stuff. The last time the NHL expanded was in the 2000-01 season when the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets began play. Those franchises were awarded in 1997 so it's been almost 20 years since we've gotten an announcement like this.

The new Las Vegas NHL team will be the first from a major professional sport in the gambling capital of the world. However, it won't be the city's first hockey team. The Las Vegas Wranglers played at the Orleans Arena from 2003 to 2014.

As for the new club's name, don't expect the Wranglers to return. In fact, team owner Bill Foley is partial to the Black Knights, being a West Point graduate. But, according to NHL.com, "the plan is to work with the NHL to come up with the appropriate name for the franchise."

It seems we won't have to wait that long either. From the same article: "Foley said he hopes to have the name of the team and its logo in place by the start of the 2016-17 season so they can start selling merchandise."

The new club will play its home games at T-Mobile Arena, on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. It seats more than 17,000 and just opened two months ago.

Vegas will get the first 30 players for their roster a year from now in the Expansion Draft where they will take one player from each existing NHL club. There are a lot of rules about how the draft will work but I won't get into that here.

On a personal note, I'm disappointed Seattle isn't celebrating news like this tonight, but I'm excited for Las Vegas. Plus, it's one more reason for me to visit in the winter.