By: Evan S. Haines
There has been a lot of rumblings about the NHL expanding and the Seattle might be at the top of the NHL’s list. Seattle NHL fans almost got their wish when the Phoenix Coyotes looked like they were on the move last summer, but the Glendale, Arizona city council voted to a extend the Jobing.com arena lease last July. I remember watching the proceeding in the City Council meeting, waiting with bated breath for a decision to be made. Despite the financial issues and hardships the city of Glendale, city officials still found it appropriate to take a gamble on the Coyotes. We’ll see how that will play out, but the situation in Phoenix is not a good one.
Enough of that, back to the positive news. Investigative reporter of the Seattle Times, Geoff Baker has some very interesting news about the NHL and city of Seattle’s on-again off-again pursuit for one another.
Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daily quotes:
“When that happens, I think Seattle will certainly be an intriguing marketplace from the league’s perspective,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says. “I think we have a belief in the Pacific Northwest. It being good hockey territory. I think, obviously, the Canucks have done a fantastic job — in Vancouver, but also throughout British Columbia and the Pacific region — at driving interest in the sport.
“So, we think the possibility is there. It’s kind of more obvious than some of the other areas. It doesn’t mean we’ve done our due diligence. We’d need to satisfy ourselves on the marketplace, but just the objective factors around the marketplace suggest Seattle would be a good hockey market.”
Seattle makes perfect sense, I have always been dumbfounded why the NHL has not set roots in Seattle. The city has the 12th ranked media/television market, and already has strong hockey roots. Seattle in fact has a Stanley Cup, The Seattle Metropolitans won the Cup in 1917. The Seattle Thunderbirds, who reside in Kent draw good attendance. Seattle has a proposed arena deal that is just waiting for participants in NBA and NHL franchises. California businessman and Seattle Native Chris Hansen almost nabbed the Sacramento Kings for Seattle last spring. That would have been huge, because Hansen has said that construction on a new SODO arena will not happen until he and his ownership group, (which includes Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer) have locked up a NBA franchise.
The scuttlebutt is that Seattle is atop the NHL’s list of possible expansion destinations. The others that have been talked about are Quebec City, Markham Ontario, Hamilton Ontario, Kansas City, and possibly Saskatoon. The NHL team/conference alignment currently is unbalanced, the Eastern Conference has 16 teams, while the Western Conference has 14 teams. So, western expansion logistically makes the most sense. My ideal scenario would be Seattle expansion, and perhaps Quebec City or Kansas City. The articles from both Baker and the Score said that a possible announcement of Seattle NHL expansion could come as soon as the Winter Olympics in Sochi end. 2014 has started out swimmingly for Seattle sports fans, the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, the Mariners signed superstar Robinson Cano, Seattle sports villain NBA Commissioner David Stern retired, and could a NHL franchise be heading to Seattle? That would be stupendous news for Seattle, if it in fact this happens. All that is left to do is wait, and see what unfolds in the coming days in months.