The National Hockey League is returning to Winnipeg. A deal has been reached that allows True North Sports and Entertainment to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers and relocate the franchise to the capital of Manitoba, where professional hockey has been absent since the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996. True North chairman Mark Chipman made the announcement on Tuesday at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre, with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in attendance. Bettman said the league prefers franchises not to be relocated but that “it’s nice to be back in Winnipeg after all these years.” Outside, the party already seemed to be starting as fans gathered to celebrate the announcement in the city’s downtown core. The relocation of the team is pending an approval by the NHL’s board of governors, which is expected to happen later this month.