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NHL approves sale of Thrashers from Atlanta to Winnipeg

By Lateef Mungin, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The moves makes the Thrashers the first to move since 1997
  • The Thrashers are the second NHL franchise to leave Atlanta
  • The vote makes the move official but the sale was announced in May

(CNN) -- The National Hockey League announced Tuesday that it has approved the sale and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, Canada.

The move makes the Thrashers the first franchise to relocate in the league since 1997, the NHL said.

A group called True North Sports & Entertainment purchased the club from the Atlanta Spirit group for about $170 million, the NHL said. The group also paid the NHL a $60 million relocation fee.

The Thrashers are the second NHL franchise Atlanta has lost to Canada.

The Flames moved to Calgary, Alberta, in 1980.

Winnipeg lost its previous NHL team, the Jets, to Phoenix in 1996. The team was renamed the Coyotes in Phoenix.

The vote by the NHL Board of Governors makes the move official but the sale was announced in May.

"It's nice to be back in Winnipeg after all these years." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in May.

But Bettman also had words for downtrodden Atlanta fans.

"To fans in Atlanta, we are not happy about leaving Atlanta," he said. "Please be assured it was not about whether Winnipeg is better than Atlanta."