SEATTLE (NEWS 1130) – The Emerald City is expected to join the NHL later today.
The league’s board of governors is expected to give the franchise its stamp of approval this morning.
An approved expansion in Seattle would require a three-quarters vote of the current 31 owners on the board, and the plan would be to have the team begin play in the 2021-22 season.
Seattle Hockey Partners will pay NHL owners $650 million to join. It had hoped the team would be able to hit the ice a season earlier, but James Cybulski from Sportsnet 650 says there are some factors to consider.
“There’s a $700-million renovation happening to KeyArena,” he says. “The hope is that they’ll be ready to go for the fall of 2020. If they’re not, do they push it an additional year and try not to rush this.”
The nine-member executive committee that heard Seattle’s presentation in October voted unanimously to move the matter to the full board, which is meeting in Georgia.
The decision should come down around 8:30 this morning.
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A team in Seattle balances the Eastern and Western Conferences at 16 teams apiece, but also requires realignment to even out the Central and Pacific Divisions.
“This has been something that Gary Bettman has wanted to try and get that competitive balance and more of an even number for the east teams and teams in the west,” Cybulski adds. “From a geographical standpoint, this is a natural rivalry for the Vancouver Canucks and Vancouver hockey fans.”
Many expect the Arizona Coyotes to be moved to the Central Division in 2021 when Seattle enters the league.
Season tickets have already been through the roof in the Emerald City — even starting in March when it was rumoured the NHL was coming back. That month, it took fans just minutes to put down deposits on 10,000 season tickets — that number has since tripled.
Canucks General Manager Jim Benning feels the game can work, just south of us.
“I think it was a good hockey city, you know going back to the old Pacific Hockey League and the Seattle Totems and stuff and the Portland Buckaroos and the Vancouver team. I think the West Coast, they can support the hockey and the NHL teams and they’re excited for the opportunity if it happens.”