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NHL commissioner visits Seattle, meets with top leaders

A spokesman for the NHL confirms Commissioner Gary Bettman visited Seattle last week and met with King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. (AP)

It's being described as merely a "meet and greet," but a spokesman in the King County Executive's office confirms the commissioner of the National Hockey League and his deputy visited Seattle last week and met with top elected officials.

KING 5's Chris Daniels first reported Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met privately with King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray last week during their visit.

Bettman has said the NHL is interested in bringing a franchise to the Seattle market, but arena issues have hampered the effort.

A spokesman for Constantine tells KIRO Radio there is nothing immediate being discussed with the NHL officials and he says it was just a chance to have a conversation. NHL spokesman Frank Brown confirmed the meeting with Daniels, saying the purpose was "solely to obtain a status report on the new arena."

While investor Chris Hansen and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer have agreed to partially fund construction of a new arena in Seattle, a Memorandum Of Understanding approved by the King County and Seattle City Councils requires an NBA team be acquired and environmental review completed before construction can begin. There is no indication either Hansen or city leaders would be willing to renegotiate the terms of their agreement to allow construction strictly for an NHL team.

Bettman recently confirmed in an interview with The Seattle Times several different investors were interested in bringing the NHL to Seattle. But Hansen has said he and Ballmer have no interest in becoming majority owners of an NHL franchise.

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