Seattle getting NHL team in 2021-22 season

07 December, 2018, 10:17 | Author: George Williams
  • Seattle city skyline with Mt Rainier at sunset with urban office buildings viewed from Kerry Park

The expansion has been in the works for awhile, and the team will debut in the 2021-22 season, playing home games at Seattle Center Arena.

The Seattle team marks the NHL's second expansion in three years, which Bettman says is attributed to the league's strength and stability.

After multiple unsuccessful attempts to greenlight a new venue in Seattle, the new National Hockey League team will play in renovated KeyArena, the home of the city's former NBA franchise, which moved to Oklahoma City after the 2008 season. Adding Seattle triggers division realignment that bumps the Arizona Coyotes to the Central Division.

That's where the longtime coach-turned-senior adviser keeps a running list of players around the league who might be available in an expansion draft that is still 2½ years off.

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"Today is a day for celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams and for our 101-year-old sports league", Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

The new team will pay a US$650 million expansion fee, which is US$150 million more than the Vegas Golden Knights paid in 2016.

While the U.S. Pacific Northwest has little recent hockey history at the professional level, the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, defeating the Montreal Canadiens in 1917.

Derek Grant is a native of Abbottsford, B.C., which is about a one-hour drive east of Vancouver and a two-hour drive north of Seattle.

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The new Seattle team, which still doesn't have a name, will have big shoes to fill after the instant success of the Vegas Golden Knights last season. Some GMs have said privately they would be more inclined this time to lose one desirable player rather than give up multiple assets to save one. While that particular development has been in the works for a long while, the obvious parallel from an National Basketball Association standpoint would be the potential for an organization heading back to Seattle in tandem for the first time since the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City.

As CEO Tod Leiweke said, "That's when we all knew that this was the right idea".

A team in Seattle balances the Eastern and Western Conferences at 16 teams apiece, but also requires realignment to even out the Central and Pacific Divisions. Leiweke said arena renovations will cost $800 million and the addition of a state-of-the-art practice facility makes it a total investment of over $1.5 billion. "If it were someplace else, I wouldn't have done it".

While there are always a few visiting fans in the stands at Rogers Arena, those in the tourism industry are hoping to see larger groups travel to Vancouver once the Seattle team gets going in 2021. It could also be Kansas City, which built an arena in 2007 and is still without a major-league tenant.

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