NHL Formally Begins Expansion Process


When Chris Hansen first swept the city of Seattle off of it’s collective feet with his grand proposition of building a multi-use arena that would serve as home for both a new NBA and NHL franchise, it was all roses. Everyone was so enthralled by the man’s energy and vision that the possibility of a long, drawn-out delay was pushed to the back of the mind. By now, of course, it’s clear that this stuff doesn’t happen over night. Or over the course of half a decade, even.

A couple weeks ago we learned that the Arizona Coyotes, a historically shaky franchise, had lost their lease agreement and were on the verge of once again being shopped from town to town. That gave us Seattleites reason to think that maybe a resolution was on the way. Seattle could have a hockey team! How cool!

The Coyotes are still in flux, but they’re not in Seattle yet. They might not – probably won’t – ever be in Seattle, but luckily that’s not the only avenue for acquiring a franchise. Arizona isn’t the only team that could plausibly move within the coming years, but there’s also the fact that reolcation isn’t even the most likely means of the NHL coming to Seattle. Not after today’s announcement.

Earlier today, the National Hockey League officially opened up the application process for potential expansion teams. Interested parties are open to submit applications between July 6th and August 10th. Not that I have any insight, but I’d put the odds of a Seattle group getting involved at… 100%? Sounds about right to me.

Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (left) presents Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The most important piece of information from that linked article above is the Gary Bettman quote at the very bottom: “The fact that we are beginning this process does not necessarily mean that any expansion teams will be granted as a result of this process.” They’re exploring, see. Not definitely expanding, but not definitely not expanding.

Of course, Seattle is one of the easy front runners for an expansion team. The NHL wants Seattle and Seattle wants the NHL, and there aren’t a ton of viable markets ahead of Seattle. The other big contenders are thought to be Las Vegas and Quebec City. Nice places, I’m sure, but neither of them is Seattle.

This is a situation that is very much worth monitoring. While expansion is probably a long ways off, it would be a hassle-free way for the city to welcome the highest level of hockey. Unless, of course, you’d qualify $500 million as a hassle. Because, you know, that’s the starting point for one of these teams. And that’s just the expansion fee.

Bringing a team to town would be unbelievably expensive, but it’s not like the Seattle metro area isn’t ripe with billionaires. This is doable. It wouldn’t be as quick as simply swooping up the Coyotes, but it might be simpler yet. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see who turns in their applications.

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