NHL commissioner Gary Bettman finally made official what many around the hockey world have assumed for months now: Seattle is officially an NHL city.
Seattle’s Oak View Group had their bid for a 32nd NHL franchise officially accepted by the NHL’s board of governors this morning during a meeting in Sea Island, Georgia.
It’s expected that the team will hit the ice at the renovated Key Arena in downtown Seattle for the 2021-22 season, one season after the expansion group was aiming for. Whether this is because of arena construction concerns, or concerns around a 2020 NHL lockout is not known yet. Regardless, it’s expected that Seattle will take its place in the NHL’s Pacific Division and that the Arizona Coyotes will shift over to the Central Division, giving the NHL four equal divisions of eight teams.
There’s obviously still a TON of work for Seattle to do before they hit the ice in 2021 like name a general manager, create a name, logo and uniform and… well draft a team. No word yet on the details of an expansion draft, but commissioner Bettman has indicated in the past that Seattle will be granted the same expansion rules that the Vegas Golden Knights were granted in 2017. Vegas, of course, went on an unprecedented run in their inaugural season, so the pressure will be on Seattle to perform from puck drop.