A long-awaited announcement came Tuesday by the National Hockey League (NHL). The league announced that the board of governors unanimously voted to the addition of a Seattle NHL franchise. This franchise will bring the total number of teams up to 32 and also shifting the divisions up. As per expected the Seattle team will play in the Pacific Division, shifting the Arizona Coyotes over to the Central Division. The changes to the division will come in the 2021-22 season, when the franchise has its inaugural season.
The franchise will follow the same process that the Vegas Golden Knights followed during their expansion year. For the expansion draft, all but one team will be included in it, the one team excluded is the Golden Knights. This is due to the Golden Knights currently only being in their second season.
The fee for the Seattle expansion team to join the league is $650 million, which will be split between all the teams that are exposed to the expansion draft. So, the Golden Knights will not receive any of that money from Seattle.
There are many stakeholders in the Seattle team. David Bonderman is the majority owner of the team and was the one who was at the NHL press conference for the announcement by commissioner Gary Bettman. During the press conference Tuesday, Bettman said, “Expanding to Seattle makes the National Hockey League more balanced, even more whole and even more vibrant. A team in Seattle evens the number of teams in our two conferences, brings our geographic footprint into greater equilibrium and creates instant new rivalries out west, particularly between Seattle and Vancouver.”
The expansion team has gained many followers due to the success of the Vegas Golden Knights expansion. The most interesting part of the process of a new team is the name. The name will not be announced for a little while down the road as the process is only just beginning. There are favorites though, the top name is the Seattle Totems, followed by the Emeralds, Rainiers and Sockeyes. These could possible not even be the final name of the team these are all just names that have been speculated for the team.
The expansion to Seattle is great news for the NHL. With two new NHL teams within a four year period, we know that the Commissioner wants to keep expanding. Bettman could possibly approve many more expansion teams. This league is the only professional league that has had the addition of a new team in many years.
The expansion team in Seattle is also a great look into how dedicated a city has to be and the reaction of the fanbase to get a NHL team there. The team put up their season tickets for sale expecting the 10,000 of them to all sell in at least six weeks, but all were sold within 12 minutes of being posted. This just shows that there are fans who want to be a piece of history, as the Seattle team joins the league in the 2021-22 season.