NHL Recommends Seattle Expansion Team

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors executive committee recommends that the league move forward with Seattle expansion plans. The final vote to approve the franchise could come as early as December.

Seattle Expansion to Move Forward

Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Hockey Partners group led by Tod Leiweke met with the 10-owner committee on Tuesday. Majority owner David Bonderman and others were also part of the meeting. Commissioner Bettman said that there still needs to be more information collected before the owner’s meeting in the first week of December.

The team is aiming to start in the 2020-21 or 2021-20 season and more will be known by the Dec. 3-4 meeting. A future Seattle expansion team would play at renovated Key Arena, which is the home of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. Key Arena used to host the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics before they moved to Oklahoma City. The arena also hosts assorted college basketball games during the winter months.

Leiweke said the group did a great job of presenting Seattle as a viable NHL market during the two-hour meeting. Toronto Maple Leafs chairman Larry Tanenbaum says he feels good about the group the Seattle Hockey Partners put together.

What it Means for the Future

This team would become the 32nd team in the league and likely move into the Pacific Division. Seattle would have natural rivalries with the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and other teams.

The move would mean the league would have to shuffle its divisional lineup to make eight teams in four divisions. Realignment plans have not been released, but TSN and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun said the Arizona Coyotes getting shipped to Central Division would be the likely solution.

Seattle has been a solid market in television ratings for the league. Expansion to the Pacific Northwest makes sense.

SEATTLE, WA – MARCH 1: Jerry Bruckheimer, honorary captain Bretton Chitwood (17) and Oak View Group Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke stand beneath the NHL 2020 flag on the top of the Space Needle during the NHL Seattle season ticket deposit drive kickoff on Thursday, March 1, 2018 in Seattle, WA. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)