Seattle Hockey

Seattle WA

VAMONDE Seattle
Written By VAMONDE Seattle

COMING SOON: NHL to Seattle

The Seattle NHL team is a professional ice hockey expansion team that will be based in Seattle and will begin play in the 2021–22 National Hockey League (NHL) season. The team will compete in the NHL as a member club of the league's Western Conference Pacific Division. The team is owned by Seattle Hockey Partners and will play their home games at the New Arena at Seattle Center. On December 4, 2018, the NHL approved a proposal by Seattle Hockey Partners—an ownership group led by David Bonderman, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Tod Leiweke—to grant an expansion franchise to the city of Seattle, Washington. It will be the first professional hockey team to play in Seattle since the Seattle Totems of the Western Hockey League played their last game in 1975.

The Long Battle to Get an NHL Team in Seattle

Seattle has a long ice hockey history, dating back to the formation of the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in 1915. The 1917 Metropolitans were the first American-based team to win the Stanley Cup but folded in 1924, while the Seattle Totems played in the minor Western Hockey League (WHL) from 1944 until the WHL's dissolution in 1975. On June 12, 1974, the NHL announced that a Seattle group headed by Vince Abbey of the Totems had been awarded an expansion team to begin play in the 1976–77 season along with a team in Denver. The team, which according to season ticket promotions would have kept the WHL name of Totems, never came to fruition because of the original WHL's instability, the inability of Abbey to gather the necessary funding and meet deadlines, and the poor performances on the ice and at the box office.

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A second attempt at an NHL expansion team in Seattle by a local group was made in 1990, but it failed again over the financial terms the NHL demanded. On February 16, 2012, a plan was announced to build a new arena in Seattle's SoDo district, just south of Safeco Field. An investment group, headed by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, proposed the arena seeking a return of the Sonics and was interested in possibly having an NHL team as well. When Greg Jamison was unable to meet a deadline to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes on January 31, 2013, speculation began that the team would be relocated to Seattle. On June 16, 2013, it was confirmed that the Phoenix Coyotes would be moving to Seattle if an arena deal between the team and the City of Glendale was not reached. Ray Bartozek and Anthony Lanza would purchase the franchise for $220 million and immediately begin operations in Seattle for the following season. However, on July 3, 2013, the Glendale City Council narrowly voted 4–3 to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale. A 2013 study by Nate Silver concluded that Seattle had the largest number of avid ice hockey fans of any U.S. media market that did not have an NHL team.

Seattle Finally Gets a Team!

On December 4, 2017, the Seattle City Council voted 7–1 to approve a memorandum of understanding between the city of Seattle and the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group for renovations of KeyArena. While the renovations were intended for acquiring an NHL franchise, acquiring a new SuperSonics basketball team were also within the design of the approval. On December 7, the NHL's board of governors agreed to consider an expansion application from Seattle, with an expansion fee set at $650 million. On February 13, 2018, the Oak View Group officially filed an application with the NHL for an expansion team and paid a $10 million application fee. At the time, the earliest a Seattle NHL expansion team could have begun playing was the 2020–21 season pending the completion of arena renovations.

On March 1, 2018, a ticket drive began to gauge interests in season-ticket deposits. Oak View reported that their initial goal of 10,000 deposits was surpassed in 12 minutes and that they received 25,000 deposits in 75 minutes. The NHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve Seattle's expansion team on December 4, 2018. Seattle will begin to play in the 2021–22 season as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference; therefore the Arizona Coyotes will shift from the Pacific Division to the Central Division to balance out the four divisions at eight teams each. An expansion draft will be held in a similar manner to a previous expansion draft held in 2017 for the Vegas Golden Knights, who will be exempt from it. In May 2019, the team launched an interactive “fan portal” where fans can weigh in on the team name, uniform colors, answer poll questions, get information about ticket pricing and seating and contains a timeline of past and future key events involving the club and a section that spotlights some of the season-ticket depositors.

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