The NHL on Wednesday announced it has narrowed the field of expansion candidates from 11 to six but did not set a timetable for admitting teams.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said no clubs will be added before the 1998-99 season and said he told prospective owners the fee "wouldn't be less than $75 million and not more than $80 million." The most recent expansion teams, the Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks, paid $50 million each in 1993.
The six active applicants are from Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; a Houston group backed by Chuck Watson; St. Paul, Minn.; Nashville, Tenn., and Oklahoma City. Two other Houston groups were eliminated as were groups from Hamilton, Canada, and Hampton Roads, Va. Raleigh-Durham, N.C., withdrew its bid this week.