UPDATE: The 2017 NHL Draft will officially be held June 23-24 at the United Center in Chicago, the NHL announced Thursday. It's the first time that the Blackhawks and the city have ever hosted the event.
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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will join Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, president John McDonough, Chicago mayor Rahm Manuel and TV color commentator Eddie Olczyk for a "special announcement" at 3 p.m. Thursday at United Center.
The group will announce Chicago as the host of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, according to ESPN.
In the draft's 53-year history it has never been held in Chicago. For the first 21 years it was held in Montreal before moving to the Toronto Convention Centre in 1985. Chicago and the New York Rangers are the only original six teams that have never hosted the draft.
When word of the announcement initially came up, the draft seemed like the likely option but there were some other possibilities. The Blackhawks have been reported as a potential team for the 2017 Winter Classic against the St. Louis Blues. But the game has been said to take place at Busch Stadium, home MLB's St. Louis Cardinals, in St. Louis. The announcement would've be made there.
Another option could've be the Hawks' new practice facility. The Chicago City Council approved four acres of land for the site at the old site of Malcolm X College on Wednesday. The Hawks and Rush University Medical Center will combine to pay $26.7 million for the 11-acre site at 1900 W. Van Buren Ave. Rush will build a $500 million "academic village" on seven acres. The facility is expected to open fall 2018. However, Bettman's presence shows this was clearly a bigger league-related announcement, as we'll soon see.