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.

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 5: Recap

Highlights and results from day 5 at the All Native Tournament

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 6: Preview

Look ahead to all the action scheduled for Feb. 16 at the All Native Tournament

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 4: Recap

Results and highlights from day 4 at the 2019 All Native Basketball Tournament

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 3: Recap

Highlights from around Day 3 of the tournament

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Most Read