I see a lot of online discussion about the timeline for things such as hiring a GM, ticket pricing, and, the most controversial topic, the team name. Patience isn’t something fans possess, but sometimes we need to take a step back and try to objectively see how we are tracking to puck drop. Using Vegas as the only current example of team expansion for comparison I plotted all their major milestones and cross referenced them against out equivalent milestones or target milestone dates.
As a whole, we have hit and are projected to hit the majority of the major milestones much earlier than what Vegas achieved relative to the start of their inaugural season. Vegas’s team name, GM hire, ticketing information and AHL franchise were determined less than 15 months from their inaugural season. Let’s take a deeper dive on some of those milestones still to be achieved for Seattle.
The Club has been relatively consistent about their search for a General Manager: They are looking for the right GM, not just A GM. When the rumored top 3 candidates of Yzerman (DET), McCrimmon (VEG), and Holland (EDM) became unavailable, one might have thought the club would pump the breaks on their search. If they did pump the brakes, it didn’t last long with the confirmation of Columbus Assistant GM, Bill Zito, who talked to the club about the GM position 3 weeks ago . In addition to Zito, a few other names have started to make the rounds in more prominent hockey media, specifically Mark Hunter, Ron Francis, Mike Gillis, and Ron Hextall. The departure of Senior Advisor, Dave Tippett, on Tuesday may have added a bit more sense of urgency to the search. With no Hockey Ops people on staff, the Club might need someone to pick up the work that Tippett was covering, like determining the strategy around the AHL franchise.
There have been numerous comments by the Club on the location of the AHL affiliate being narrowed down to Palm Springs and Boise. If the affiliation deal were to be determined today, then this would put Seattle at almost two full years earlier than the point in the timeline when Vegas announced their affiliation with the Chicago Wolves. However, Vegas-Chicago Wolves is not a good proxy for comparing the two timelines. The Chicago Wolves were an already established club from which Vegas could just plug and play. The Seattle Club appears to be planning for an entirely new AHL franchise which will require significantly more lead time. Both Boise and Palm Springs create their fair share of unique challenges that the Wolves did not require for Vegas. The Wolves were already an AHL franchise with an existing place to play. Palm Springs would be a completely new AHL team and, probably more importantly, will require an arena to be built. Boise has an arena, but it currently hosts the ECHL Boise Steelheads. Converting an ECHL franchise to an AHL team can be done, but still requires a lot of negotiating and money across all interested parties, such as the AHL, the ECHL, the current ECHL franchise owners, and the owners of the arena. All of those challenges can be overcome, but require lead time.
Ahh..the name. I will remind you, odds are you are going to hate the name. Brace yourself for it. The name of the club remains one of the most divisive topics amongst Seattle hockey fans. We’ve been teased several times on the reveal, but the latest timeline out of the Club is “potentially” this fall. How about that for a commitment?
All in all, we are way ahead of the Vegas timeline, but I am sure you are like me. I can’t wait for 2021 and each step of this process makes it feel more and more real.