Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

A first look at Seattle's National Hockey League expansion team

A first look at Seattle's National Hockey League expansion team

The arena boosters started promoting the benefits of such a building in the early part of this decade, even as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, in his patented dismissive way, kept saying publicly that, gosh, the league just had no plans to expand.

The NHL will make the Emerald City the home for its 32nd franchise after Seattle's expansion bid was approved by the league's Board of Governors.

Seattle will benefit from the same expansion draft rules Vegas had.

The Seattle team will play at the city's Seattle Center Arena, formerly the KeyArena, which is due to undergo a $700 million facelift.

Seattle will play in the Pacific Division, meaning the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central.

Seattle will draft one player from every team's roster except for Las Vegas.

"Today is an exciting and historic day for our league as we expand to one of North America's most innovative, lovely and fastest-growing cities", said Gary Bettman.

The expansion fee for the new Seattle NHL franchise is US$650 million. "And we are thrilled that Seattle, a city with a proud hockey history that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup, is finally joining the NHL".

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Labor uncertainty also hovers over all things National Hockey League because owners or players can vote in September 2019 to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement one year later - right before the beginning of the 2020 season.

The awarding of an expansion franchise to Seattle will renew a hockey rivalry with Vancouver that has its fair share of history.

"It will be a little bit different for us because we have the extra year now to go through it".

As CEO Tod Leiweke said, "That's when we all knew that this was the right idea". That desire only grew after the ownership group secured the rights to build a new downtown arena a year ago and then sold deposits for 32,000 season tickets in a single day last March. "I actually think it was at the end of the day the simplest, most logical, least disruptive option we had available to us and I think it will work well for the Coyotes".

National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver didn't seem bullish on the return of a Seattle franchise in an October interview either, shortly after the city hosted a preseason matchup.

The belief at the moment is that the arena will be ready to open for concerts and the WNBA Storm in the spring of 2021, starting the revenue stream that must pay off construction debt over the 39-year length of the lease.

Flyers goaltending prospect Carter Hart played for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, located 25 miles north of Seattle. "If it were someplace else, I wouldn't have done it". More than 100 years later, they'll have that chance again.

And unlike Quebec City, its location in the northwest of the United States allows the NHL to add balance to a league that is Eastern Conference heavy, while also providing a natural rival for the Vancouver Canucks.

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