It would be puzzling if the Seattle City Council needs more reasons to vote yes on the Occidental Avenue street vacation for the proposed SoDo arena. If they do, however, here's a big one.
It looks like the NHL is accepting Las Vegas for expansion, but rejecting Quebec, according to the following tweet.
If the NHL Player's Association has been informed that Quebec is out, but hasn't heard the same thing about the Las Vegas application, that likely means that Vegas is in.
But not so fast. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly issued the following denial.
It should be noted that the NHL issued many denials that expansion was being considered at all, right up until the day they announced a formal expansion process. It should further be noted that the league denied that the Atlanta Thrashers would move to Winnepeg, right up until the Thrashers became the Jets.
Daly saying "no final decisions" could mean a range of things, from "we have no clue what we're going to do" to "we've made the decision, but we haven't put it on paper yet so we can keep denying it."
Daly saying "no recommendation of any kind has been made or communicated by the League Office or the Executive Committee" doesn't preclude the possibility that individual members of those entities have communicated the writing on the wall to the NHLPA.
WHY IT MATTERS
Why does it matter if Quebec is rejected, but Vegas is accepted?
Because that would mean the league would be operating for a while with an odd number of teams. While this would not be an insurmountable or unprecedented scheduling headache for the league, it would be a prescription worthy migraine.
This would seem to open the door for a new round of expansion applications down the road. If the SoDo arena gains final approval and Victor Coleman and gains an "NHL first" agreement with Chris Hansen, Seattle would be in a prime position to walk through that door. The same holds true for Tukwila if Ray Bartoszek can land a major investor.
WHERE THINGS STAND WITH COLEMAN
Coleman, along with every other Seattle area NHL investor group, balked at applying for expansion in July of last year. Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker reported the following last October.
A week before it became public knowledge Coleman would not apply for expansion, his representative, sports consultant Jeff Marks of Premier Partnerships, requested a July 9 conference call with Gregorich and city officials. Marks emailed Gregorich that the call would "discuss next steps and bring you up to speed on the NHL expansion application process and timing and what our team is thinking around the process.''
Marks said in an interview Coleman told the city during the call he wouldn't be applying for a team since he couldn't control whether Hansen gets his arena approved.
Baker further fleshed things out in a November article.
The NHL needs Hansen and Coleman to work something out. When I spoke recently with Jeff Marks, a sports consultant working with Coleman, he told me his client is monitoring Seattle's political situation and wants assurances Hansen can get his arena approved before signing off on any deal.
Marks did say financial negotiations between Coleman and Hansen remain unresolved. But he says Hansen has an optimal location, is nearing approval and would be an ideal partner.
Marks says Coleman is still interested in working out a deal in Seattle, preferably with Hansen, "beyond our previous non-binding agreement."