On October 2nd, Seattle Hockey Partners will present a six-minute video to the NHL executive committee which consists of nine NHL franchise representatives. Mayor Jenny Durkan will join the group at the league’s offices in New York where they will outline their case for expansion and hopefully present enough cause for a 2020 inaugural season.
“We’re preparing a six-minute video and we’re going to orchestrate this carefully,” stated Leiweke during his first episode of Tuesdays with Tod. “We’re going to stand up in front of these owners and say we belong in this league.”
Later that same evening the committee will turn around and present their findings to the NHL Board of Governors with a formal recommendation for or against. Seattle Sin Bin was told by an NHL representative that they will likely not be voting for expansion at that time.
Of course, that can all change.
The vote is more likely to occur on December 8th during their annual BOG meeting held in South Florida at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. It is unclear at this time whether they will be awarding a 2020 or 2021 expansion but it sounds as though OVG is still keeping to their original timeline and expectations. The league recently changed the likely date to a 2021 launch but Commissioner Gary Bettman presented further insight in a press release from the league earlier this month.
“The timetable on finishing the application and doing what we need to do, we can do that as quickly or as slowly as appropriate,” said Bettman. “That’s a matter of weeks and months, not years. The bigger issue is going to be their timeline on the building.”
A timeline that appears to be holding strong.
On September 14th, members of the Seattle City Council committee approved the final transaction documents for the new arena at Seattle Center by a vote of 7-0. It is expected that the full council will vote in favor of the new arena when they meet again on Monday.
Then comes the always fun step of team branding. Tod Leiweke has maintained that we should expect an announcement at some point next spring. At this point it is unlikely that an official naming tournament will be held but I have been assured that the ownership group is actively listening to community input. So keep showing your support as you never know who is watching.
With the formalities out of the way, Tod Leiweke and Seattle Hockey Partners can start to focus on piecing together their hockey operations staff.
The first step in that process will be to hire a general manager and, shortly after, an assistant. There is plenty of speculation going around as to who this will be but names that keep appearing are Kelly McCrimmon, currently the assistant GM for the Vegas Golden Knights; Ron Francis and Sean Burke, both of whom know senior advisor Dave Tippet from their time in the Hartford Whalers organization; and, whoever is remaining from the current Ken Holland and Steve Yzerman situation in Detroit.
With six to twelve months remaining before the expansion draft, I expect names will start to emerge as the group selects their director of player development, head and assistant coaches (Vegas hired Gerard Gallant with just under six months remaining before puck drop), professional and amateur scouts, and any remaining support personnel.
At some point, the team also has to finalize a practice facility and land an AHL affiliate.
It sounds as though Dave Tippet has been hard at work planning a multi-sheet facility while simultaneously attempting to secure an AHL affiliate. If history is of any indication, the AHL will hold their next BOG meeting during the Calder Cup playoffs with another one expected in July. It is safe to assume that expansion will be on the agenda.
If all is good up to this point, the next step will be to build a team.
At around mid-June, the 30 other organizations (as noted by Kyle_G, Vegas will likely not be exposed to the expansion draft) will have to submit a list of players they want to protect from an expansion draft. Bettman has mentioned that Seattle will be granted the same expansion rules as Vegas but that is not yet set in stone. Tod Leiweke and his staff will be asked to submit their list of chosen players a few days later and will have a predetermined window of exclusive access to negotiate with free agents.
The NHL draft will follow shortly after and Seattle will have the opportunity to select players born between January 1, 2000, and September 15, 2002.
Development camp will also likely be held in the last week of June, to be followed by training camp which leads straight into the 2020 preseason.
Hopefully, if a lockout is avoided and no major issues arise, Seattle will take the ice during the first week of October for their first ever NHL regular season.