June 17th, 1997
John Futty and Brent LaLonde, The Columbus Dispatch
Expansion franchise starts play in 2000
Columbus will be granted a National Hockey League expansion team that will begin play in 2000, two television networks reported last night.
CNN-SI and The Sports Network, based in Canada, reported that the league also will grant expansion franchises to Nashville, Atlanta and St. Paul, Minn.
Citing unnamed sources, the networks said the league’s executive committee will recommend that Nashville join the league in 1998, Atlanta in 1999 and St. Paul and Columbus in 2000. The league has also named Houston and Oklahoma City as finalists in the expansion derby.
The committee’s recommendation must be ratified by the NHL Board of Governors, which will meet June 25 in New York.
Arthur Pincus, league spokesman, declined to comment on the reports.
A source told The Dispatch last night that league officials are expected to make a formal announcement regarding the recommendations today and press conferences likely will be held in Columbus and other expansion cities.
The four new teams would bring the league’s membership to 30. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has refused to discuss in which divisions the teams would play or how the teams would be stocked with players.