Seattle NHL franchise: No deadline pressure from Gary Bettman

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman discussed Seattle’s bid for an NHL franchise and reassured everyone there is no pressure of a deadline, at least not at this stage.

Gary Bettman met the media last weekend, as part of the NHL All-Star weekend festivities in Tampa. The subject of Seattle’s franchise application was brought up.

While there are no major concerns with the Seattle process, minor concerns still remain due to the fact that the Oak View Group has yet to submit its official expansion application. No one is concerned and this delay is likely more about making sure crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s before submitting the application.

Interestingly, there was some speculation the Oak View Group would submit its application last Friday, but it is now expected to be within the next couple of weeks. Based on this timeline, the Oak View Group will likely start the season ticket drive some time in  February.

Of course, if we know about anything associated with Seattle sports, it would come as no surprise if there are any delays. Regardless, there is no pressure coming from the NHL.

When asked for an update, Bettman declared there is no timeline for awarding Seattle a franchise. Speaking to the assembled media on Saturday, the NHL commissioner said:

“The timetable in terms of filing an expansion application, doing a season-ticket drive, is largely up to them. We can respond to the extent that we’re getting the information we need on a timely basis, whatever that timetable is, so that we can go through the processes that we have. So when you next ask me ‘what are the attributes of Seattle?’ hopefully we’ll have done enough homework if this is moving forward to be able to answer that question.”

It is patently clear Bettman and everyone associated with the potential Seattle franchise is going to take a cautious approach to this entire process. He hasn’t even offered a guideline about what he expects from any season ticket drive.

What we do know is that if and when Seattle officially become the NHL’s 32nd team, they will enjoy benefits similar to the Vegas Golden Knights. In fairness, this sounds about right, especially given the projected cost of $650 million to join the NHL.

More specifically, the new Seattle franchise will have the same expansion draft rules as the Knights. As reported by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, Bettman said:

“I have no doubt that if there’s going to be another expansion team they are going to insist on having the same expansion rules. I think that’s crystal clear. I think George McPhee did an outstanding job of using the rules. We knew the team would be better – the goal was to make the team competitive at its inception – and there’s a great mix of talent that’s bonded very well.”

The Seattle franchise is projected to begin playing in the 2020-21 season. However, there’s still a lot to do between now and then, including revamping Key Arena.

Ultimately though, everything seems to be moving along pretty smoothly at this stage, albeit slower than a lot of us would like. Fortunately, there is no deadline coming from Bettman, at least not at this stage.

What did you take away from Bettman’s comments at the weekend? Are you encouraged, or concerned about the delay in making an expansion application? Share your thoughts below.

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