By now you have probably heard about the article posted in the Seattle Times last week about NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly saying Seattle would be a "good hockey market." While there were a few nuggets of new speculation in there, we have heard a lot of it before. We know the NHL likes Seattle so the Bill Daly quote in the article isn’t exactly new info. Here are some of the quotes that we have heard from League and team officers over the last 12 months:
"The research that I have seen tells me that it would be a very strong hockey market. …Obviously if there were a team in Seattle it would create a decent rivalry with their northern neighbor, namely Vancouver." -Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner (April 7th 2013)
"But I think it’s safe to say we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally. Going forward I would expect that to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration." -Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner (July 24th 2013)
"With the [new] arena in Seattle, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put hockey back into the Seattle/Portland marketplace and we have to make a commitment to that." – Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment CEO (October 29th 2013)
The timing makes a lot of sense for 2 reasons:
- Ramping Window: Expansion teams need as much ramp as possible to get ready for their inaugural season. Training facilities, scouting staff and front offices, just to name a few, need to get rolling ASAP if the 2015-16 season is the target.
- PR Timeline: The NHL needed to get through their two big regular season showcase events (Stadium Series & Winter Classic) and post-Olympics, and a lull in sports between the Super Bowl and March Madness provides a perfect announcement window.
The only other windows I see could be right before the Stanley Cup Playoffs or right before the NHL draft in late June, so if we do not hear anything next week, don't write off the 2015 season. I love the news but I don't think it is as big as it sounds and is on the same path we expected in December. Call me a little gun shy but I do not want us to get our hopes up until we hear directly from the league. There is no doubt that Seattle will be a great NHL market someday, and my hope is that it starts in 2015, but let us move forward with some tempered enthusiasm.