After months of speculation, the NHL have officially awarded Seattle with an expansion franchise.
Hockey fans in Seattle can finally breathe easy. The NHL is officially coming to the Emerald City.
The NHL Board of Governors got together in Sea Island, Georgia on Tuesday morning to vote on whether to award Seattle with an expansion franchise. And not only was the bid approved, but it was a unanimous decision.
In reality, Seattle was always likely to get a team, after the stunning success of the NHL ticket drive back in March. Nearly 25,000 season ticket deposits were reached inside the first hour of going on sale, including 10,000 in the first 12 minutes alone.
Regardless, just knowing it is now official brings a whole new level of excitement to the area. Whatever fans may feel about where the hockey arena should ideally be, there is no denying the Oak View Group put a lot of work and effort into securing an NHL franchise for the city of Seattle.
Speaking to the media after the vote, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the Seattle team will start playing in the 2021-22 season. There had been some speculation that they might join the league a year earlier, but that is a minor point on this day.
The main thing which matters is that Seattle has an NHL franchise. The team will play at Seattle Center Arena, which will now break ground and undergo a privately funded $700-million renovation.
The expansion fee for the Seattle franchise is $650 million. And at that price, it was good to hear Bettman confirm the team will have the same expansion draft rules as the Knights (who will be exempt, meaning they won’t lose a player).
It was also confirmed that Seattle will join the Pacific Division in the Western Conference, helping them strike up an immediate rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks. The Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division, to help bring balance to the league.
From a historical perspective, although Seattle has never had an NHL team, they were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, in 2017. They also played in the Stanley Cup final, in 1919 and 1920.
Moving forward, Seattle NHL fans have lots of key announcements to look forward to, before the team hits the ice in 2021. This includes naming the team, announcing the general manager and picking the head coach.
Did you ever have any concern the NHL wouldn’t award Seattle with an expansion franchise, or were you always confident? Moving forward, what are you most looking forward to in the build up to the team taking the ice in their first regular season game? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.