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More Seattle NHL Expansion Smoke in the Air

The Seattle Times was at it again Wednesday, running a story about a group of Seattle business and political leaders heading up to Vancouver, B.C. Among the topics they are talking about up there? The NHL in Seattle. But is this something to get excited about?

The Seattle Times reported Wednesday that a contigent from Seattle is headed to Vancouver to talk NHL
The Seattle Times reported Wednesday that a contigent from Seattle is headed to Vancouver to talk NHL
Rich Lam

On the heels of a Seattle Times article last week there was more NHL to Seattle news today. The Times' Geoff Baker ran another piece, this time detailing a trip of Seattle business and political leaders to Vancouver. Among the topics they were looking to discuss was the NHL in Seattle.

As John Barr wrote last week, there is still nothing new here. We've heard the NHL and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly talk in vague generalities about expansion and this group headed to Vancouver doesn't appear to be a group that is engaged with the league in any way -- at least not publicly.

So while we still don't have anything concrete to get excited about, this is clearly more smoke in the air.

While Daly has been consistently vague in his comments about Seattle and the NHL, perhaps the most important thing is what he hasn't said. At no point has he said 'no'.

The league clearly wants to expand, despite the fact that it has at least one struggling club in the Florida Panthers. When the NHL reconfigured its conferences before this season it was left with two fewer teams in the West than it has in the East. This has made expansion feel like a foregone conclusion -- expansion in the West.

Putting a team in Seattle seems almost too logical to believe it hasn't happened yet. There are many reasons that it hasn't, but it's hard to ignore the creeping feeling that we are on the verge of something.

Baker, and others, continue to report that sources are telling them that there are talks between the league and potential ownership groups to bring a team here. While that's encouraging, we all know how quickly these deals seem to evaporate.

Even if the league has made a 'behind closed doors' decision to expand there is still the arena hurdle. Key Arena is not a long term option for the NHL and you would have to think that the league would not expand here unless they have some assurance that the current MOU can be amended for hockey first.

Clearly, there is work to be done.

So what does all this news mean? What do we have?

What we have now is a lot of smoke in the air, a lot of speculation and even though that all seems to be pointing in the direction of something happening, we should take a deep breath and get ready to watch the U.S. Olympic team take on Team Canada on Friday.

The NHL can wait a week.