On December 4, 2018, the board of governors of the National Hockey League (NHL) unanimously voted in favor of adding its 32nd franchise in Seattle. This gives the city its first major-league hockey team since 1924 and its first winter sports team since the SuperSonics infamously left the city a decade earlier.
The new team will play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. Because of this, the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division, creating 4 divisions with 8 teams each.
What Will the Team Be Called?
So far, the team has not decided on a name. Victor de Bonis, who is the Chief Operating Officer of the franchise, recently said that they are in no hurry to select a name. However, the team has registered 38 web domains that include the following names:
-Seattle Sea Lions
Notable on the list is the Seattle Totems, which were a minor-league hockey team that played in the city between 1944 and 1974. Notably absent from the list is the Seattle Metropolitans, which was the city’s last major league team. The Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917, beating the Montreal Canadians to become the first American team to win the Cup.
It should be noted that it is possible that the eventual team name is something completely different from any on the list.
While no logo for the team can be created until it has an official name, it is being reported that the team could hire an indigenous person to design the logo. Indigenous people may also be involved in the selection of a name. 3 of the names on the list (Seattle Rainiers, Seattle Sockeyes and Seattle Totems) reference indigenous cultures.
Where Will the Team Play?
The team will play in the renovated KeyArena, which is being renamed the Seattle Center Arena. The budget for renovations is $800 million, and they began the day after the team was approved. They are expected to be completed before 2020. The team will also have a practice facility not far from the Northgate Mall.
When Will the Team Begin Play?
The team will begin playing in the 2021-22 season. The owners had wanted to start to play in the 2020-21 season, but the league was concerned that the renovations to the KeyArena would not be completed in time.
How Will the Expansion Draft Work?
The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft will work exactly like the 2017 Expansion Draft. That draft was for the Vegas Golden Knights, who would eventually make it all the way to the Stanley Finals in their inaugural season. Because they are so new, the Golden Knights will not have to provide players for the 2021 Expansion Draft. Though they will also not receive a cut of the $650 million expansion fee the owners of the Seattle team paid to join the league.
All teams others than the Golden Knights can protect either one goaltender and 8 other players or they can protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and one goaltender. All other NHL players enter a pool from which the new Seattle team can draft. The draft consists of 30 rounds in which one player is selected in each round. It is also not unusual for expansion teams to receive players and draft picks from existing teams in exchange for not selecting certain unprotected players.
The new Seattle team will also participate in the 2021 Entry Draft for amateur players. A lottery determines first-round positioning, and the Seattle team will have the same odds in the lottery as the team that finishes with the third-fewest points the year before. After the first round, the team will draft in the third position in all subsequent rounds.
Who Are the Team’s Management?
A group of about 30 people owns the new Seattle team. The majority owner is David Bonderman, who is a prominent investment banker. Also owning a significant portion of the team is Jerry Bruckheimer, who is a famous Hollywood producer. Though Bruckheimer claims that he will largely be a silent owner. Another owner is Tod Leiweke, who was recently the Chief Operating Officer of the NHL.
Dave Tippett, who was once the coach of the Arizona Coyotes, is a senior adviser for the team, and it is expected that the team will soon hire a general manager as well.