Seat­tle set to be home of 32nd NHL team in ’21

Nick­name, re­align­ment re­main un­set­tled is­sues

USA TODAY International Edition - - NBA - Kevin Allen

Seat­tle has been unan­i­mously ap­proved by the NHL’s board of gover­nors in Sea Is­land, Ge­or­gia, to start the 202122 sea­son as the league’s 32nd team.

More than 30,000 fans have paid a de­posit on sea­son tick­ets. The fran­chise will play at re­de­vel­oped KeyArena, which will cost $700 mil­lion.

The ex­pan­sion fee cost of the fran­chise is $650 mil­lion, $150 mil­lion more than the Ve­gas Golden Knights paid to join the NHL last sea­son.

“To­day is an ex­cit­ing and his­toric day for our League as we ex­pand to one of North Amer­ica’s most innovative, beau­ti­ful and fastest-grow­ing cities,” NHL Com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman said in a state­ment.

“We are de­lighted to add David Bon­der­man, Tod Lei­weke and the en­tire NHL Seat­tle group to the Na­tional Hockey League fam­ily. And we are thrilled that Seat­tle, a city with a proud hockey his­tory that in­cludes be­ing the home for the first Amer­i­can team ever to win the Stan­ley Cup, is finally join­ing the NHL.” Things to know about Seat­tle’s en­try:

The nick­name: Un­set­tled. Detroithockey.net re­ported this year that a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Oak View Group, the ex­pan­sion ap­pli­cant, reg­is­tered 38 do­mains in­volv­ing these names: Seat­tle Cougars, Seat­tle Ea­gles, Seat­tle Emer­alds, Seat­tle Ev­er­greens, Seat­tle Fire­birds, Seat­tle Kraken, Seat­tle Rainiers, Seat­tle Rene­gades, Seat­tle Sea Li­ons,

Seat­tle Seals, Seat­tle Sock­eyes, Seat­tle Totems and Seat­tle Whalers.

The gen­eral man­ager: For­mer Coy­otes coach Dave Tip­pett has been ad­vis­ing the own­er­ship group, but it doesn’t ap­pear he will be the GM.

If the Seat­tle team fol­lows the Golden Knights’ script, which in­cluded a trip to the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal, it will hire a vet­eran GM sim­i­lar to Ge­orge McPhee. That opens the door for Dean Lom­bardi, Ron Hex­tall, Ron Fran­cis, Don Maloney and Garth Snow, among oth­ers.

If Seat­tle wants a fresh face, Blue Jack­ets as­sis­tant GM Bill Zito, who re­cently in­ter­viewed with the Flyers, could be a choice. Golden Knights as­sis­tant GM Kelly McCrim­mon could get a look. The Hur­ri­canes con­sid­ered Zito, Kings as­sis­tant GM Mike Futa and Detroit as­sis­tant GM Ryan Martin last sum­mer. Pen­guins as­sis­tant GM Bill Guerin was in­ter­viewed in Buffalo when Ja­son Bot­ter­ill was hired. Chris Pronger is an ad­viser with the Pan­thers. For­mer NHL goalie Sean Burke is also men­tioned as a fu­ture NHL ex­ec­u­tive.

Re­align­ment: The NHL hasn’t set­tled on any­thing, but there has been con­sid­er­able spec­u­la­tion that Seat­tle would slot into the Pacific Divi­sion and the Coy­otes would move into the Cen­tral. Although hav­ing Ari­zona away from Ve­gas and the Cal­i­for­nia teams isn’t ideal, the solution causes the least amount of hard­ship. Each con­fer­ence would have 16 teams and each divi­sion would have eight teams.

Player dis­tri­bu­tion: The NHL is go­ing to fol­low the same ex­pan­sion draft rules that al­lowed the Golden Knights to put to­gether a con­tend­ing team.

Seat­tle will be able to select one player from ev­ery team ex­cept Ve­gas. The 30 teams can pro­tect ei­ther seven for­wards, three de­fense­men and a goalie or eight skaters to­tal and one goalie. It’s im­pos­si­ble to know what pro­tected lists will look like.

McPhee’s suc­cess was aided by GMs’ de­ci­sions to give up draft picks and prospects to save specific play­ers.

Why Seat­tle is de­sir­able: Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tion In­dex, Seat­tle is the USA’s 14th largest TV mar­ket, and it’s the largest city with­out a win­ter sport. The NHL will not be com­pet­ing against the NBA. The Seat­tle TV mar­ket is larger than mar­kets in Min­nesota, Colorado, St. Louis, Nashville, Pitts­burgh, Colum­bus, Carolina, Ve­gas and Buffalo.

Seat­tle and Van­cou­ver should be nat­u­ral ri­vals. They are 21⁄2 hours apart by car. Seat­tle has plenty of hockey his­tory. The Seat­tle Metropoli­tans won the Stan­ley Cup in 1917 and were in the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nals in 1919 when the cham­pi­onship se­ries was can­celed be­cause of a flu out­break.

STEPHEN B. MOR­TON/AP

NHL Com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman, cen­ter left, holds a jersey af­ter Seat­tle was an­nounced as the league’s 32nd fran­chise.

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