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What to look for in 2019

As we recover from our NHL franchise awarding hangover of December, it’s time to start looking forward. Here are some of the topics we should be tracking in 2019. It is a bit speculative and it is unclear if and/or how the delay from 2020-21 to 2021-22 will impact some of these topics.

A Team Name

Let’s establish something right now. Based on the comments I read online and feedback I hear from a lot of you, chances are you are going to hate the name. It is easily the most divisive subject I’ve seen in the ~8 years I have been part of this community. People say, “Totems is the stupidest name ever”, “Metropolitans is the worst”, “The Kraken sounds like a minor league team”. Brace yourself right now. You are probably not going to like whatever the team is called. At best 20% of you like any one name…so math tells us that 80% of you likely won’t like it.

Lucky for us, this thing is expected to be put to bed by the summer. They have not made it clear how the naming process will work (i.e. fan vote) but they have acknowledged they have “narrowed” the list from 700 names to 100. I don’t know how much news will be reported along the way, but just a reminder…you are likely going to hate the name.

My suggestion, should you have the will power, is to actually not get hung up on any team names, either positively or negatively. It will be hard, I know. Trust that the club will choose a great name that we can all get behind. They haven’t done us wrong yet. If you can keep an open mind on the name of the team, then when it is announced over the summer, you can simply enjoy the fact that we have a team, rather than sulk that your preferred name wasn’t chosen.

Along with the name comes a logo and with a logo come colors so that means we could be purchasing our own Seattle <<Enter Name Here>> gear sometime in 2019.

General Manager

Over the summer it was widely reported that the NHL Seattle group will hire a GM by the following Summer (2019). That plan was communicated while the group was still targeting the 2020-21 date, so this hiring window might be pushed back a bit since there would not appear to be the same level of urgency needed now that there is an extra year in the timeline. Some of this might be dictated by which GMs are available over the summer. You can always start developing your expansion draft strategy and start building out your amateur and pro scouting team, but I could see this possibly slipping to 2020.

Ticketing/Prices

A lot of us season ticket depositors have anxiously been waiting to give the club our money. Well, maybe, not that exactly, but we do want to get an idea of where are seats might be located, what the costs might be, and what are the options. I took in some NHL games in December and it’s hard not to day dream about where my seats might be. Many of us also want to know what are the different price points of the club and non-club seats plus what type of amenities might be included in those different offers. Then, there are a ton of us that want to know if we made the cut to get season tickets. With 33,000 deposits and a capacity of ~17,000, there are a lot of people that are not certain they will even get the option. Keep in mind also that not all ~17,000 seats will likely be allocated to season ticket depositors which cuts down the availability even more.

Increased engagement

The NHL Seattle club is very lean right now, which has limited their ability to engage with the fans. They’ve had a few fun events with the Opening Night watch party in October, the announcement party at Henry’s on December 4th, and sponsorship of SIFF Holidays on Ice. As they start to ramp the hiring of their team, I anticipate a bit more engagement and activities with hockey fans in the area.

AHL location

This one has the biggest potential to slip into 2020. Since an AHL affiliate franchise would not start play until the Fall of 2021, the sense of urgency around this work item might not be a priority in 2019. That said, if they are evaluating a city that requires an arena, they might want to get that ball rolling as quickly as possible and start planning proposals. Another option may be that the NHL Seattle club might end up purchasing an existing team in the meantime and operate it as a separate entity and then transition into their AHL team leading up to the 2021-22 season. The AHL could also experience a bit more shuffling of locations across their teams over the next few years that will make this more complex than just picking a site. Dave Tippett already narrowed down the location to the “Western Hemisphere”, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s as specific as we get by the end of the 2019.

So for now, enjoy the rest of the current NHL season and keep an eye out for more info from the club on all these topics in development. You know I will be.

John Barr
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