Seattle Hockey Partners David Bonderman, left, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan talk to the media as they leave a meeting at National Hockey League headquarters, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, in New York. Members of Seattle’s potential ownership group and Mayor Durkan presented their case to the Board of Governors’ executive committee at the league office. If the executive committee moves the process forward, the board could vote as soon as December to award the NHL’s 32nd franchise to Seattle. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NHL expansion to Seattle appears to be a slam dunk, but other questions remain

When Seattle will actually hit the ice and how the NHL will realign two of its four divisions remain unanswered

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to confirm the worst-kept secret in hockey on Tuesday — the league will be expanding to Seattle.

Approval of the city’s bid to become the NHL’s 32nd franchise needs support from 3/4 of the board of governors, who are set to meet this week in Sea Island, Ga.

Barring something completely unforeseen, Seattle appears to be a slam dunk.

There’s a deep-pocketed ownership group fronted by majority stakeholder David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the US$650-million expansion fee and an opportunity to balance the league with 16 teams in each conference.

READ MORE: To 32 and beyond: Seattle may not be end of NHL expansion

Two big unknowns remain heading into the board meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, however.

When will Seattle actually hit the ice and how will the NHL realign two of its four divisions?

KeyArena, which was home to the NBA’s SuperSonics before they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, is primed to undergo a massive $700-million renovation, but it’s unclear if the project will be finished in time for the start of 2020-21 NHL season.

“The potential club ownership is very much interested in starting in 2020-21,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last month at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto. ”But their arena timeline continues to be a little too tight for that, so we’ll see whether they can move that up or change that.”

If the facility isn’t ready, the league would prefer Seattle’s inaugural campaign be pushed back until 2021-22 rather than have the new team play temporarily at a different venue.

“They have floated the idea of potentially using an alternate site for the first couple weeks of the (2020-21) season,” Daly added. ”It’s not ideal.”

There’s also the possibility of an NHL work stoppage in the fall of 2020, but Bettman has said the arena hurdle is the biggest obstacle facing a 2020 start date for Seattle, which has sold 32,000 season-ticket deposits, including the 10,000 purchased in the drive’s first 12 minutes.

“They have a lot of work to do initially,” Bettman told reporters in New York back in October after the ownership group made a presentation to the board’s executive committee. “Everybody’s goal is 2020 if it can be accomplished. If it’s not, then we’ll do it in ‘21.”

Whether it’s 2020 or 2021, with the current setup of 15 teams in the Western Conference, some shuffling will be required once Seattle joins the NHL’s party.

The new franchise looks tabbed for the Pacific Division — the Vancouver Canucks are an obvious geographic rival, just a three-hour drive north — meaning one of the other seven teams currently in the Pacific would have to move to the Central.

At this point, the Arizona Coyotes or Colorado Avalanche seem the most likely candidates to make the switch.

The NHL expanded to 31 teams — it’s first addition since 2000 — when the league decided to go into Las Vegas in 2016.

The Golden Knights, who paid a $500-million expansion fee compared to Seattle’s $650-million price tag, stunned the hockey world in their inaugural season, making it all the way to last spring’s Stanley Cup final.

—-

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Young Muslims offer helping hand to isolated residents throughout Lower Mainland

Neighbourhood Helper campaign aims to get help to people who can’t leave their homes

South Surrey man aims to ease stress of pandemic with free online yoga

Patrick Aubert says his one-hour classes are about rest, recovery

White Rock’s promenade to close to the public

Public access to popular waterfront walkway closing April 10: city

Christopherson Steps, 1,001 Steps closed due to COVID-19

Access restricted to Crescent Beach over Easter weekend, City of Surrey announces

LETTER: With a long road of recovery ahead, Surrey must keep RCMP

To change for the sake of change shows weak leadership, inability to understand needs of community

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

Controls can keep Canadian COVID-19 deaths under 22,000, health agency says

With poor containment measures, the death toll could be much, much higher, the agency says

People needing addictions services feel ‘abandoned’ during pandemic, B.C.’s ex-top doctor says

Widespread job losses and more homelessness due to physical distancing at shelters have added hurdles

Canada lost 1,011,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate up to 7.8%: StatCan

Unemployment rate hits levels not seen since 2010

COVID-19 world update: 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims; alcohol sales banned in Bangkok

Comprehensive digest of coronavirus news items from around the world

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

BC institution has highest number of positive results for COVID-19

11 inmates in Mission test positive for coronavirus, more than any other federal prison in Canada

Most Read