UPDATE 1:00pm: Regarding Tod's comments at the press conference that they would be hosting the expansion draft - I have been told by NHL Seattle that the league has not yet confirmed an expansion draft will be held in Seattle but that the group is interested in doing so should the NHL want to host it in the city.
While it may not be everything fans had hoped for, the NHL is coming to Seattle for the 2021 season. The league’s board of governors gathered at the plush Cloister in Sea Island, GA for their annual winter meetings where they voted in favor of expansion to the city.
It was clear heading into Tuesday that the league was going to give a nod to Seattle Hockey Partners but whether they would hit the ice in 2020 or 2021 remained in the fog. The Oak View Group appeared certain that renovations to KeyArena would be completed on time while the league let their hesitations be known.
“More likely the 2021-22 season than the 2020-21 season, so we have some time,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Emily Kaplan of ESPN prior to the vote. “A variety of factors. We’ve had that discussion on a preliminary basis with the ownership group and I think the ownership group is on board with that timeline. That’s not set in stone, but I don’t think either side is feeling any time pressure.”
Although the hockey world has jumped at the opportunity to question the league, there may be some merit to waiting. By doing so, the Oak View Group is able to extend their timeline to the right with lighter shoulders.
Seattle has been waiting far too long for this moment so taking the time to ensure everything launches without a hitch is likely the best scenario - however hard it may be for us as fans to wait an extra year.
A 2020 expansion likely would have resulted in opening the season either on the road or in an alternate building. Either case being less than ideal for both parties.
There is also a potential lockout looming in the shadows. And let’s be honest with ourselves here. As hockey fans, do we really want to rely on Gary Bettman to prevent a lockout?
With a 2021 inaugural season, OVG can measure twice and cut once while hopefully, the league and NHLPA will have their Collective Bargaining Agreement issues sorted out. Additionally, with an arena complete and waiting, the city will likely host the expansion draft in their own barn.
My mind is already running wild pondering the magic Jerry Bruckheimer could pull off for such an event.
Of course, there was a third option.
Vote on expansion with an inaugural season to be announced later in the year. I tend to fall in this camp but it appears the league didn’t want to leave other GM’s on a ledge.
Preparing for the expansion draft is a long process with rosters likely looking very different between 2020 and 2021. I was first told by a league representative that this option was off the table back in October but have yet to hear a solid reason as to why.
With all that said, NHL Seattle has arrived!
OVG is set to break ground at Seattle Center later this week and SHP will need to wire the league $200-million. With everything still so fresh, I have yet to hear any news concerning an updated timeline but suspect the team will still launch branding in the spring.
The next couple of years are going to fly by as the ownership group ramps up their gameplan in January.
Until then, there is still plenty of hockey to take in.
On December 15th, Team USA will take the ice in Everett ahead of the 2018-19 World Juniors for training camp.
The group will then head to Vancouver and Victoria, B.C to represent the United States in the WJC beginning December 26th.
We will keep you updated as information comes in following today's events.