Seattle Expansion Team Moves Closer to Reality

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Hockey expansion is all the rage. Last year, fans anticipated all along the way to know what players would be on the Vegas Golden Knights. Throughout the summer of 2015, the NHL looked for applicants for an expansion franchise. Las Vegas and Quebec City made their pitches, but no official application came from Seattle, despite the league anticipating one. Commissioner Gary Bettman chose to follow through with his legacy of forcing hockey into unconventional markets. Thus, Quebec was cast aside and Vegas came out as the winner.

One Step Closer to a Seattle Expansion Team

Leading up to the 2016-17 season, followers of hockey watched intensely as the new franchise came into reality. People looked forward to seeing the team come together. Countless name predictions, jersey concepts, and mock expansion drafts were made before the Vegas Golden Knights finally came to be. Since game one, they’ve taken the league by storm. Now, it’s Seattle’s turn.

The Return

As most advocates for the NHL to expand into Washington State know, professional hockey is not foreign to their largest city. The Seattle Metropolitans played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915 until the PCHA, and subsequently, the Metros, folded in 1924. In 1917 against the Montreal Canadiens, they even managed to win the very same Stanley Cup they’ll seek to win again. In fact, they were the first American team to win it.

Junior professional hockey is also engrained in Seattle hockey lifestyle. Currently, the Seattle Thunderbirds play in the Western Hockey League. Just last year, they won their first WHL Championship. The franchise has produced NHL greats, new and old, such as Ken Daneyko, Chris Osgood, Petr Nedved, Patrick Marleau, and most recently, Mat Barzal.

Another Step in the Road

In early December of last year, city council approved the $600 million renovation plan for KeyArena, the leading potential home of the future Seattle expansion team. It’s currently slated to be completed in 2020.

Earlier today, the NHL has officially received the expansion application from Oak View Group, filmmaker, Jerry Bruckheimer, and billionaire, David Bonderman. The filing fee was $10 million alone. Bill Foley, the Golden Knights owner, had to pay $500 million out of pocket in expansion fees. However, Seattle’s ownership group will face a whopping $650 million in fees. Nevertheless, funding may soon begin.

Branding the Franchise

It was leaked around mid-January that Oak View Group had registered 38 domain names that cover 13 different potential team names. Though it’s not official whatsoever, these few nicknames could prove to be the new look to Seattle hockey. The names include: Cougars, Eagles, Totems, Evergreens, Seals, Sea Lions, Whales, Kraken, Rainiers, Renegrades, Sockeyes, Firebirds, and Emeralds.

It’s only a matter of time before the jersey concepts and mock drafts are in full swing. The NHL is well on its way to finally getting a Seattle expansion team and balancing the league to 32 franchises.

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