On his most recent trip to Seattle, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman announced some juicy rewards for the future Seattle franchise.
Gary Bettman Says Seattle Will “Eventually” Host An NHL Draft And All-Star Game
Bettman said the league has promised Seattle it will host All-Star weekend within its first seven seasons, keeping in mind that the team’s first season will be in 2021-22. Bettman also says Seattle will host the NHL draft, and that event will likely be awarded before the All-Star Game arrives.
Gary Bettman had this to say to The Associated Press:
“It doesn’t mean we are going to wait seven years,” Bettman said. “We’re going to be bringing league events here. This is where we want to be.”
Bettman’s surprising announcement was part of his first visit to Seattle since the franchise was approved by the league’s Board of Governors in early December. Bettman met with members of the ownership group, political leaders in the city, fans who have placed deposits on season tickets and reviewed the status of the massive renovation of the arena at Seattle Center where the team will play.
Seattle’s ownership group has put up over $1.5 billion in expansion fees, upgrades to the building formerly known as KeyArena, and a state-of-the-art practice facility that is expected to open in time to host the first training camp.
“If you talk about in terms of kicking the tires, the tires are in great shape,” Bettman said. “We couldn’t be more excited. When the board made the decision to come to Seattle, we knew it was the right decision, it would be a great decision and everything that has transpired has not only lived up to expectation but has exceeded our expectations.”
The franchise initially hoped to open for the 2020 season, but it is using the additional year to ensure the arena is operational well ahead of the team’s home opener. It also gives the team more time to put together its front office.
Seattle has no name, just playing to come as they are
The team still doesn’t have a name or colour scheme. Bettman said the league would mostly stay out of the selection process, aside from working with the Seattle franchise in colours, trademarks and other logistical parts of the expansion name. Seattle team president and CEO Tod Leiweke said the goal is to have a name announced by the middle of 2019. The franchise will be taking major input from fans that have put deposits down on season tickets.
What the team is thinking
Leiweke said the team’s goal is to have a portal launched within the next 60 days for season-ticket depositors to provide feedback and to inform them of the timeframe for decisions and announcements moving forward.
“If I have my way, their fingerprints are going to be all over this franchise. Certainly a team name, but they’re going to help us build this,” Leiweke said.
Some fans are hoping to see a return of the Seattle Metropolitans — a historic name in Seattle, since the Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917. That name might be off the table, though, since the NHL has a division with that name.
Bettman was asked if that name can be ruled out.
“Viscerally, yes,” he said, “but I never say never to anything.”
What This Means
This is essentially the NHL saying “thank you” to Seattle for bringing another team to the league. This gives ownership a chance to make a profit and show just how great of a city Seattle really is 25 years after the city was truly relevant in the national spotlight. In other words, when the grunge movement was in full swing and people actually knew who Kurt Cobain was. All joking aside, this is another step in showing that the NHL is fully invested in its 32nd team and ready to showcase the city off to the NHL’s loyal fans. It is also another stepping stone in the team’s development. Next comes a team name and a colour scheme. Stay tuned for that and much more as Seattle nears its first season.