On Tuesday, the National Hockey League Board of Governors made it official as they announced Seattle as the new home of the league’s 32nd franchise. They are set to begin play during the 2021-2022 season.
“Today is an exciting and historic day for our League as we expand to one of North America’s most innovative, beautiful and fastest-growing cities,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman following the vote. “We are delighted to add David Bonderman, Tod Leiweke and the entire NHL Seattle group to the National Hockey League family. And we are thrilled that Seattle, a city with a proud hockey history that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup, is finally joining the NHL.”
The vote comes nearly a year to the date when the group from Seattle was allowed to apply for the franchise. Of course, this comes on the heels of Las Vegas becoming the 31st franchise and beginning play last season. For the yet-to-be-named franchise, they will be playing in a renovated KeyArena, now known as the Seattle Center Arena. The former home of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics. That franchise, of course, moved to Oklahoma City following the 2008 NBA season.
Given the team’s geographic location, they will be set to join the Pacific Division once they begin play. The move would push the Arizona Coyotes to the Central Division, giving each division across both conferences eight teams.
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Outside of former NHL coach Dave Tippett being named a Senior Advisor, not many management positions have been filled. The team hopes to announce a name by the spring and one would imagine they would start filling out the senior coaching staff and management positions in the near future.
In March, the ownership group ran a season ticket drive for potential fans and were blown away by the response. Given the success of the Golden Knights, it’s easy to see how quickly the excitement grew for a fanbase that has never had an NHL franchise. Much like Vegas. And, just like Vegas, they will follow the same expansion draft rules that allowed the Golden Knights to build a team that contended instantly.