As we kickoff the 101st season of the NHL, many wonder what a new season will bring for their team. There’s always optimism in the air; however a new hockey market has the most reasons to get excited.
That’s the city of Seattle, Washington.
Right before the NHL dropped the puck on their first game, the league announced that a 32nd NHL franchise is just one December vote from becoming a reality. The best quote came from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman when he said, “The committee’s recommendation is ‘Let’s do this!’”
If, and most say when, the vote goes through, hockey fans will be looking at a 32nd NHL team for, hopefully, the 2020-2021 season and SiriusXM NHL Network Radio will add another team to it’s broadcasting repertoire!!
After the NHL’s 31st franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, reached the Stanley Cup in it’s inaugural season, fans, owners, players, prognosticators and especially general managers are all wondering how the second-go-round of an expansion team in this decade will perform.
Vegas will be exempt from the expansion draft and the incoming expansion money, however the same player-selection format will take place with the other 30 NHL clubs and situations will certainly play out differently. But that comes later.
Right now all eyes are on the KeyArena where the soon-to-be hockey franchise will play it’s games. The City of Seattle and the Oak View Group have already come to terms with an expensive plan to renovate the building. But it could lead to a delayed opening date, potentially prolong expansion by a full season. Right now the reported price tags for the renovation are $600 million and above, and the expansion fee is rumoured to be around the same price.
Still, the optimism remains especially with the fans. Over 30,000 tickets have been raised as part of the franchise’s ticket drive and both the NHL and ownership group couldn’t be happier with the result.
The move will also balance out the Eastern and Western conferences with 16 teams apiece, and it will give the Vancouver Canucks a Pacific Northwest rival. something that Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini says is “great for Vancouver. Great for the league”.
As for the team name, your guess is as good as mine. The Western Hockey League in junior hockey has a team based out in Kent, Washington just south of Seattle. They use the team name ‘Thunderbirds’ featuring a bird totem based off the regional Native culture. Many think something similar will be branded with the incoming team.
The NHL has done a great job expanding and is looking to score yet again. With the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and Seattle Mariners (MLB) already in place and a NHL team imminent, the Northwest hub needs the NBA to come back to become the 14th city to house all of the big four professional sports franchises.