NHL approves Seattle expansion for 2021-22 season

Workers place temporary “under construction” signage on KeyArena. Matt M. McKnight Crosscut

The NHL Board of Governors met to give final approval to Seattle's bid this morning. NHL Seattle CEO and president Tod Leiweke told 710 ESPN Seattle's Danny, Dave and Moore in October that the name (and presumably colors, logos and merchandise) will probably be unveiled in the spring.

The NHL is coming to Seattle.

The NHL Seattle group will pay the NHL a $650 million expansion fee.

While Seattle basks in the news, it's not clear the National Hockey League will be satisfied at 32 teams even with the new team providing balance between the Eastern and Western conferences and a natural, cross-border rival for the Vancouver Canucks.

Renovations to the downtown arena that will be the team's home are scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2020. But the deeper they got into discussions with league officials the more they came around to the value of having another year to get ready. "This is an organization that's going to be built around our fans, and as we thought about this on behalf of our fans, we realized that perhaps we wouldn't open the season with our fans in our new building, perhaps the training centre wouldn't be ready".

For perspective, it took Vegas two days to hit 5,000 and 18 months to get to 16,000.

"On top of everything else, Seattle is a city with a hockey history, that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup", Bettman said. The Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division once the Seattle franchise begins play to balance out the league's conferences. "The Golden Knights will not participate in this expansion draft, meaning they won't lose a player". In March, the Seattle ownership group launched a season-ticket drive and said it reached 25,000 deposits within the first hour. The Penguins have four players with NMCs under contract in 2021 - Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang. And ultimately, for our fans, this will be a good thing.

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The league likes that it will provide a natural geographical rival for Vancouver while filling a need in a city under-served for professional sports.

The as-yet unnamed franchise will be the Emerald City's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008.

Maybe the biggest question surrounding the team at the moment is what they'll be called.

But for those in Seattle it's been an excruciating process full of stops and starts, and several failed arena projects.

"Sixteen years ago they started saying that the arena didn't work", said Leiweke.

The new team's name has not yet been decided. Believe it or not, there are no permanent public ice rinks inside the Seattle city limits, but that will change with the training center, which will feature a grand total of three rinks.

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