The NHL's Board of Governors met Tuesday morning in Sea Island, GA to vote on whether or not to approve Seattle as the League's 32nd franchise. With a unanimous vote from the BOG's Executive Committee back on October 2nd to continue Seattle's expansion bid, it was all but a sure thing that come December 4th, Seattle would come into the fold as the NHL's newest club.
Making it Official
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced at noontime Tuesday, after the conclusion of the BOG's final vote on Seattle expansion, that the League would be officially accepting Seattle into the fold as the NHL's 32nd franchise with a unanimous vote.
Bettman noted that the team is expected to take the ice starting in the 2021-2022 season. While most people who had been following the Seattle expansion bid closely expected the NHL to approve the team on Tuesday, the starting season for the new club remained a point of contention.
A "Realistic" Timeline
The NHL Seattle group had been stating that construction of Key Arena in Seattle Center, the future home of the club, could be completed in time for the 2020-2021 season, assuming no major delays arose during the construction process. However, Bettman stated Tuesday that it was agreed upon during the BOG meeting that icing the new team for the 2021-2022 season presented a more "realistic" timeline.
Also, considering the potential for issues with labor negotiations in the League's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that COULD lead to a POTENTIAL lockout during the 2020-2021 season, it would make sense that NHL ownership would prefer to push off Seattle's expansion until those issues have been resolved. While Bettman has discussed the potential for a lockout during that time in previous public appearances, he made no comments on the CBA during Tuesday's press conference.
So... How About Those Uniforms?
The hottest topic of conversation surrounding the Seattle expansion process has been what the team will be called, what the team logo will look like, and what the team colors will be. Majority Owner David Bonderman, Team President Tod Leiweke and Bettman were all asked about these three things.
As expected, the trio gave tight-lipped answers with the only tidbit of information coming from Bettman, who when asked about naming the team after the Seattle Metropolitans (the first pro hockey team in Seattle which existed from 1915-1924) noted "that was a long time ago" adding that the League already has a Metropolitan Division. Leiweke has made comments in the past about including the citizens of Seattle in the naming process in some way.
First Piece of Business
Make of those comments what you will, but what is important right now is that a 32nd team is officially coming to Seattle, and with that official blessing from the NHL, the NHL Seattle group now has the go-ahead to market themselves more aggressively as a franchise, and according to Leiweke, that starts with addressing the issue of season ticket holders.
When the team ran its season ticket drive back in March, they hit their goal of 10,000 tickets in just 12 minutes, and went on to receive a total of 33,000 deposits before closing off sales. With that many season ticket deposits, and only a little more than 17,000 seats to be had in the new arena, the NHL Seattle group has some magic to work to make sure everyone who put down a $500 deposit comes out happy.
For now, continue to follow the NHL Seattle folks (@NHLSeattle on twitter) for all the latest updates on the NHL's newest franchise.
Photo: (NHL via Twitter)