Hockey Is Coming To Seattle!

The Northgate neighborhood will be the future home of the NHL practice rink.  Photo credit .

The Northgate neighborhood will be the future home of the NHL practice rink. Photo credit.

The Seattle area has been waiting for an expansion team for some time now. Granted, the wait has specifically been for an NBA franchise to replace our beloved SuperSonics, and apparently no such franchise is on the way yet. For people who just love sports and want more local teams though, there was good news this week. Seattle is getting an NHL expansion team, and it could be actively competing as soon as the 2020-21 season. Naturally, there are a few things to talk about! 

How It Happened

Basically, when the Las Vegas Knights became the 31st team in the NHL, it was more or less a given that one more team would be added. The league’s Board of Governors, under commissioner Gary Bettman, considered bids, and ultimately gave the prospective Seattle ownership and development group the go ahead to pursue a $650 million bid back in December of last year. Since then the idea has been further deliberated, and the Seattle group more or less proved the concept, resulting in an official acceptance of the bid. The city now has a guaranteed expansion team, to be the 32nd active team in the NHL, and can begin the process of putting together an organization and massively renovating KeyArena, where the new team will play its home games. 

The Team Name

This is the fun part early on. For sports fans, in fact, it’s almost inexplicably enjoyable to speculate about the possible names of a brand new franchise. The internet is already debating name candidates, with names like the Emeralds, Totems, Evergreens, and Kraken believed to be some of the most likely choices. The long shot, but one which has actually come out on top in some fan polls online, would be the Seattle Sockeyes, a name paying homage to local salmon. Here’s hoping whatever the pick is, it’s something that sounds original and embraces the setting of Seattle and its surroundings. 

Perfect Timing

As something of an aside to the team itself, it’s worth noting that the 2020-21 season may be perfect timing for the state to maximize potential revenue, not just from the team but from gambling activity. Sports betting is spreading across the U.S., and there are already resources taking stock of bookmaking options that are available or will soon be in the country. This will make an impact across the American sporting scene, but with tech expected to drive the budding betting industry, and Seattle being near the forefront of most every significant tech movement, we can probably expect to see a lot of fun activity in this arena.

The Team Setup

From this point forward, the Seattle organization will assemble itself with an eye toward replicating the immediate success of the Vegas Knights under the NHL’s favorable expansion draft rules. This means the ownership group building up their management and coaching team, an ex-coach-turned-adviser named Dave Tippett analyzing players that could potentially be brought to Seattle, and most of all the aforementioned arena renovation. There’s a lot to be done, but the team - even before it has any players - has already begun setting itself up for success. 

NBA Next?

Unfortunately, no. This isn’t relevant to the NHL team, but because a lot of people will immediately begin wondering if this means the NBA will come to town next, it should be mentioned that the two are really almost entirely unrelated. It could be that if KeyArena looks suitable for basketball and the Seattle hockey team does very well from a revenue standpoint that professional basketball eventually gives the city another look. But Seattle has already proven in the past that it has a passion for basketball, so really it feels like the hold up is more on the NBA’s side of things.