What’s next?

Technically speaking, nothing changed last week. We have not been awarded a Atrium view from the southeastfranchise, yet, but if the league had any doubts of the support for the NHL in Seattle, I think they heard us loud and clear. We are more than capable of supporting it. After such a smashingly successful ticket drive last week, a lot of folks have been asking what’s next?

The League

It’s not clear that the league has everything it needs to make the decision at this point, but one thing they were most definitely looking at was the ticket drive. I think it is safe to say that we cleared that hurdle by a mile. I imagine there is still a healthy amount of due diligence the league must perform on the arena project and the financial viability of the owners, but I anticipate a lot of this work was completed when the NHL agreed to accept an application from the Seattle group. Let’s assume they complete their checklist, then all signs are pointing to a June announcement. One of the major (potential) owners of the franchise, David Bonderman said last week that he is hopeful for a response from the league in June. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson also mentioned on Hockey Night in Canada that the success of the ticket drive could expedite the league’s response to the application with a potential response to June. Add to the fact that if they are going to announce something, they probably want to steer clear of the NHL Playoffs and make the announcement after a Board of Governors meeting between the NHL awards and the NHL Draft. The date for the awards has not been set, but the Draft is June 22nd and 23rd so let’s just circle the two days prior. Interesting to note is that the NHL Board of Governors approved Vegas Expansion on June 22nd 2016, ~15 months before the start of their first season 2017-18. If the NHL does indeed award Seattle a franchise this coming June, this over 2 years before puck drop in 2020. I’ve noted before that this process has been different than the Vegas process so there is no cause for concern.


One thing I am keeping my eye on is the continued progress of the arena permitting and contracting phase. It’s generally believed the ~2 year window to complete the arena is Interior seating bowl view – Hockey configurationaggressive, but doable. In order to hit the start of the 2020 season, we need to make sure the arena stays on track with a groundbreaking in October and November. Earlier this week, Chris Daniels reported that the Design Review process remains on track with no expected delays. It is these seemingly small events and processes that I am keeping my eye on to look for any delays. One thing to note is that a lot of the local businesses around the Seattle Center arena also want the project to be completed on time and open as quickly as possible.


The NHL to Seattle Weekly roundup

We had a wild week. I have highlighted some of the most impactful articles, podcasts and other content that framed the week. It might be obvious, but I don’t agree with everything I am sharing but I still wanted to show some of the more interesting articles on the topic at hand.

Two initial reports set the stage and speculation on NHL expanding to Seattle.

  • Gallagher: Bettman has changed his tune on NHL expansion – This initial report seemed to reiterate a lot of what we have heard over the last 9 months with relatively no new insight with the exception of Las Vegas being a “done deal” other than picking an owner. (Let’s forgive the oxymoron in that sentence). This did not shock me or anyone else that has been all over this saga. I interpreted the done deal as maybe the NHL is convinced it could work in Vegas.
  • Howard Bloom tweets that NHL will expand 4 more teams by 2017 – This tweet kicked off a ton of articles with one that seemed to give it more credibility, the SI article. My opinion is that I am sure somewhere at NHL Headquarters there is a roadmap or a strategy document that probably has all four of those cities as potential expansion and relocation targets or options, it is not necessarily the plan of record. Having looked at Howard Bloom’s content on his website and his twitter account, I do not give it a lot of weight.

Denials from the NHL

It took less than 12 hours for mainstream hockey press to get the NHL’s take on the reports. Here are some of the notable articles on the denials.

The local perspective

Although other Seattle news outlets started reporting on the news, the NHL to Seattle mainstays, Geoff Baker from the Seattle Times and Chris Daniels from King5 weighed in.


Other interesting insight and notable opinions.

  • Half Of The NHL’s Rumored Expansion Cities Don’t Make Sense – article from Nate Silver’s 538 says Seattle and Vegas don’t make sense because…wait for it. Buried a link and 10 paragraphs in, people are not searching for “NHL” on google enough. Yes, that is the basis of the claim. In the referenced article, it also says “Sudbury-Thunder Bay” could better support a team. Keep in mind that those two cities are only 12 hours away from each other and have about 100,000 people in each of those cities so I am not sure where they anticipate putting an arena. Most of the people I talk to have been fairly critical of 538 since it moved over to ESPN. The unfortunate part about this article is that most people don’t read far enough to understand the methodology and/or have the time to fact check some of the claims in the article. By the way, I am sure NBC and Rogers would love a Sudbury vs Moncton Stanley Cup final matchup.
  • Duhatschek: NHL shift on expansion thinking came more than a year ago – I enjoy the globe and mail (most of the time). There were several articles that validated that expansion is coming, this is just one of the better ones.
  • Canzano: When the NHL is ready, Paul Allen is waiting in the ‘Shark Tank’ – I have never counted out Portland and this article sums up their position fairly nicely. My take, if Paul Allen wants an NHL team, he can probably get one. If (and that is a big If) the whole Arizona Coyotes thing does not work itself out, Portland could be a destination.

The irony of this whole week is that if news like this broke in October or November, we would not have heard 10% of the volume we heard this week. Writers are itching for some content to write about while in season I am hanging on Bettman and Daly’s every word to hear something about Seattle. We are going to be riding a rollercoaster for a while but we have to be patient. Try not to get too up or too down on these reports. It all takes time and to steal a phrase from Chris Daniels, there are lots of moving parts.


Keep Calm…there is nothing to see here.

Lots of news from yesterday but I am here to throw a wet blanket on “the report” that the NHL will expand to Las Vegas, Toronto, Quebec and Seattle by 2017. Maybe I’ve seen this city get their heartbroken of the Sacramento Kings last spring, or the hockey community let down by a vote in Glendale last July. It could also be that I’ve been following every detail of this story and know how one tweet can start of firestorm of articles that multiplies by the hour.

“The Report”HockeyView_SonicLevel3

The original “report” was really just a referenced tweet by some guy who had around 6000 followers. Most people claimed that SI (Sports Illustrated) was reporting the news but they were just reporting the report. Huh? Yep…that’s unfortunately how things happen these days. Once people saw the SI report it spread like wildfire with just about every news outlet reporting the report of the report. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to see the NHL to Seattle being discussed on the national stage. The reality is that this is not really news and not really credible.

Seattle and the NHL

Seattle is a great market for a Hockey team and the NHL knows it. In fact they have known it for a while. If you have followed King 5 Reporter, Chris Daniels or Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker, they have made it clear that the NHL likes this market based on discussions those guys have had with NHL brass. Don’t believe me? What about these quotes from 2013:

“The research that I have seen tells me that it would be a very strong hockey market. …Obviously if there were a team in Seattle it would create a decent rivalry with their northern neighbor, namely Vancouver.” – Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner

“But I think it’s safe to say we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally. Going forward I would expect that to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration.” – Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner


“With the [new] arena in Seattle, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put hockey back into the Seattle/Portland marketplace and we have to make a commitment to that.” – Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment CEO

A Roadmap?

Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto and Quebec have probably been identified or prioritized at NHL headquarters as potential expansion or relocation markets. That is not really saying much now is it? Vegas might be the odd one in there but there might be other factors that us fans don’t see. I imagine the list includes Portland, Kansas City and Houston. As a business, the NHL needs to know what potential markets exits if a situation comes up that they want to expand or relocate a team.


Who can I trust?

That is a great question. I’ve been following this so long that I take just about everything I read with a grain of salt. Remember when Darrly Katz toured Key Arena? Well I do, so excuse my cynicism. Although they are not always right since a lot of this stuff is fluid, I go to Chris Daniels and Geoff Baker for my local perspective. On a national level, I like Elliot Freedman, Ken Campbell and James Mirtle.


And as I wrap up, here come the denials:

NHL denies expansion report, including a second team in Toronto

Tim Leiweke of the Maple Leafs calls expansion reports “just not true”