The Seattle Hockey Partners announced on Monday the hiring of Victor de Bonis and Ken Johnsen. De Bonis will serve as the team’s Chief Operating Officer, a position he held with the nearby Vancouver Canucks for a decade. It was announced that he would leave the Canucks organization in 2017, after working with the team for 23 years.
“This journey has been a privilege and an honour for me and my family. My decision was difficult because I love working here. But, the time is right for me to pursue a change and a new challenge in my career,” de Bonis said in 2017, according to The Daily Hive. “I also want to give others here the opportunities I have had.”
Perhaps the “new challenge” he had in mind was always the expansion Seattle NHL team. Talks of the Seattle team have been ongoing for years, and de Bonis has certainly kept his ear close to the ground about this. Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times wrote last year that de Bonis “could barely contain his enthusiasm” at the idea of a cross-border rival getting fans from both cities driving up and down the I-5 corridor and filling the arenas. Not only will he bring significant experience running an NHL team, he will bring experience running an NHL team in the Pacific Northwest, something very few people can boast about.
“I am excited to be coming into Seattle Hockey Partners on the ground floor and to get the chance to work with Tod again,” said de Bonis.” There’s nothing like bringing a franchise to a new city, and having a second chance to do so is an honor, including being a part of the team.”
Ken Johnsen has been hired as a construction executive for Oak View Group. He will be the man in charge of bringing not only the new Key Arena to life, but the Northgate practice facility as well. His name has come up before in the Key Arena renovation saga. He was part of an independent consultant team that helped the city review the proposed renovations that are now kicking into gear. He’s been a part of countless renovation and construction projects in the Seattle area over the years, including a Pike Place Market remodel and the construction of ShoWare Center, which the Seattle Thunderbirds currently call home.
“There’s something special about supporting a brand-new sports franchise in my city,” said Johnsen. “Seattle Hockey Partners has already brought a new energy to Seattle, and there is so much potential for what’s to come. I grew up going to exciting sports and concert events at Seattle Center. Getting to bring these visions to life is going to be an enormous passion project for me.”
He should have plenty of work to jump into right now as the Key Arena renovation is already underway.
The Seattle Hockey Partners appear to be doing everything they can to keep this team on track for the 2020 season. Johnsen brings a ton of experience with construction projects like the Key Arena, though this is perhaps his biggest challenge yet. De Bonis has kept Vancouver’s Rogers Arena packed over the last 10 years, despite the dip in the team’s place in the standings these past few seasons.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Victor and Ken during this pivotal moment in Seattle sports,” said Tod Leiweke, CEO, NHL Seattle. “Victor has been a key player in the Vancouver Canucks’ operational success and is a longtime sports industry veteran. Ken is responsible for many civic landmarks in Seattle, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he will bring to Seattle Hockey Partners’ upcoming projects. I’m excited to bring on individuals that I’ve personally worked with and have seen their successes firsthand. I know they will keep the astounding momentum going as we continue on a path to make the case for Seattle to be awarded an NHL franchise.”
Two more great-looking hires by the Seattle Hockey Partners. These guys really know what they’re doing, and I absolutely cannot wait until we get official word from the league next month that the team is official.