When? Where? Name? A look at Seattle's NHL expansion team

Elena Summers
December 7, 2018

The NHL Board of Governors signed off and commissioner Gary Bettman announced after the vote that the league's 32nd franchise will enter the league in 2021-22 as a member of the Pacific Division.

Clayton Keller will have to wait two more seasons to make a firm assessment, but the Arizona Coyotes center said Tuesday he's looking forward to the Coyotes moving to the Central Division in 2021-22, when the Seattle expansion team plays its first season in the National Hockey League. Many teams did not enjoy the expansion draft process in the summer of 2017 when the Vegas Golden Knights came into existence.

The Seattle ownership group organized the watch party as a central gathering spot to celebrate the announcement and hand out swag a short distance from the Seattle Center, where the yet-to-be named team will begin play in a reconstructed Seattle Center Arena in 2021.

Seattle will play in the Pacific Division, meaning the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division.

That's where the longtime coach-turned-senior adviser keeps a running list of players around the league who might be available in an expansion draft that is still 2½ years off.

Not only is Seattle one of North America's fastest growing cities, with tech giant Amazon having recently opened its head offices in the downtown core, it's an area that is starving for a professional winter sports team after losing the NBA's SuperSonics 10 years ago.

"Seattle, the National Hockey League is thrilled to welcome you", said Bettman.

Team and city officials in Seattle have already secured more than 30,000 season-ticket deposits and received approvals from local government for arena plans.

"We have momentum, and this is a business of recruitment", Leiweke said.

Seattle certainly would love to have the Sonics back after the franchise was shipped off to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 2008 by owner Clay Bennett.

When Canadians think of Seattle, much of what we know comes from media and entertainment. "This is just a great thing for Seattle and I'm so honored to be part of it".

"There's obviously a lot of good teams in all the divisions, but I think it will be cool to play St. Louis a little bit more, being from there", said Keller, who grew up in Chesterfield, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and leads the Coyotes with eight goals and 18 points. Leiweke said arena renovations will cost $800 million and the addition of a state-of-the-art practice facility makes it a total investment of over $1.5 billion. "If it were someplace else, I wouldn't have done it". That desire only grew after the ownership group secured the rights to build a new downtown arena past year and then sold deposits for 32,000 season tickets in a single day last March.

Tippett has a hand in all those projects and is also working to settle Seattle's American Hockey League affiliate.

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