‘We’re here to win,’ says Nhl’s new­est ad­di­tion

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - SPORTS - Stephen Whyno

sea is­laNd, Ga. — seat­tle’s Nhl ex­pan­sion team has its roots in dave Tip­pett’s com­puter.

That’s where the long­time coach­turned-se­nior ad­viser keeps a run­ning list of play­ers around the league who might be avail­able in an ex­pan­sion draft that is still 2.5 years off. it is just an ex­er­cise for now but will be­come a key build­ing block when seat­tle picks its first play­ers in June 2021.

“ev­ery year it’ll change a lit­tle bit,” Tip­pett said. “by the time it gets here, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where you think teams are go­ing to fall.”

long months are ahead be­fore the as-yet-un­named team plays its first game, but work is al­ready un­der­way and the ef­fort can be­gin in earnest now that the Nhl board of Gover­nors has of­fi­cially awarded seat­tle a fran­chise. Ground­break­ing on a to­tal over­haul of Keyarena is Wed­nes­day, and seat­tle’s front of­fice will spend the rest of this sea­son plot­ting the course for an or­ga­ni­za­tion that has a tough act to fol­low after the Ve­gas Golden Knights reached the stan­ley cup Fi­nal in their in­au­gu­ral sea­son.

“Part of the dNa of this own­er­ship group is we’re ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive,” said Tod lei­weke, a mi­nor­ity part­ner, pres­i­dent and ceO of seat­tle hockey Part­ners. “We’re here to win. and we want to win. so we’re go­ing to look at these time­lines and how it can be put to our ad­van­tage.”

That means Tip­pett will watch the rest of this sea­son with an eye on the new team’s fu­ture and he will sketch out the be­gin­nings of a hockey op­er­a­tions depart­ment. he will likely be se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of hockey op­er­a­tions and have a big say in choos­ing the first gen­eral man­ager of the league’s 32nd team.

Tip­pett will likely hire some scouts this sum­mer and move for­ward on the Gm search.

“When you’re a year or two out, ev­ery­thing con­tin­ues to evolve,” Tip­pett said. “you con­tinue to mon­i­tor things. it’s an ever-chang­ing world out there right now in the hockey world be­tween coaches and Gms.”

Vet­eran detroit red Wings Gm Ken hol­land is con­sid­ered a po­ten­tial can­di­date, and Ve­gas as­sis­tant Kelly mccrimmon would know the recipe for a suc­cess­ful ex­pan­sion draft after help­ing Ge­orge mcPhee put the Golden Knights to­gether. The same rules will be in place that al­low teams to pro­tect only seven for­wards, three de­fence­men and a goal­tender, or eight skaters at any po­si­tion and a goal­tender.

That means that for $650 mil­lion, seat­tle will have an op­por­tu­nity to win right away.

“it gives you an ex­cite­ment that you can have a team that’s not your ex­pan­sion teams of the past with the Nhl rules,” Tip­pett said. “you can have a com­pet­i­tive team like Ve­gas. No­body ex­pected that from them. but, it’s not as if you’re in a five-year re­build or five-year start­ing point. you ac­tu­ally can get some good play­ers be­cause of the rules.”

lei­weke is friends with mcPhee and Golden Knights pres­i­dent Kerry bubolz and said his new team will build “brick by brick” like Ve­gas did.

First, there are real bricks. ma­jor­ity owner david bon­der­man said the im­me­di­ate fo­cus is on get­ting arena ren­o­va­tions and three­rink prac­tice fa­cil­ity con­struc­tion com­pleted. lei­weke ex­pects the 17,000-seat down­town arena to open in march or april 2021 and host the ex­pan­sion draft.

Tip­pett has a hand in all those pro­jects and is also work­ing to set­tle seat­tle’s amer­i­can hockey league af­fil­i­ate.

and he and the own­er­ship group will, at some point, go on a hir­ing spree to try to repli­cate Ve­gas’ suc­cess.

“We have mo­men­tum, and this is a busi­ness of re­cruit­ment,” lei­weke said. “We now re­ally feel con­fi­dent that we’ll be able to re­cruit a topflight staff. and we need to, be­cause this is the most com­pet­i­tive league in the world, and par­ity is the trade­mark of the Na­tional hockey league to­day. so, we’re go­ing to have to be re­ally, re­ally good at re­cruit­ing, but our own­ers are go­ing to give us ev­ery­thing we need.”

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