NHL unanimously approves expansion to Seattle

Ice hockey fans celebrate the announcement of Seattle being awarded an NHL expansion franchise in a bar in the city

Season-ticket deposits for the new team sold out in 31 hours earlier this year

The group reportedly filed for trademarks on a whole slew of potential nicknames in January, but rumors on Tuesday focused on an old name: Metropolitans, the same name of an old Seattle team that in 1917 became the first American squad to win the Stanley Cup (10 years before the championship trophy was exclusively awarded to the National Hockey League champion). The group led by majority owner David Bonderman, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and president and CEO Tod Leiweke had been hoping for play to begin in 2020. The ownership group, the plans for the arena - it's all of the above. The Seattle Metropolitans, which seems to be an early leader in the clubhouse as far as pure speculation goes, played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915-1924. The NHL announced back in March that any potential expansion draft for Seattle would be conducted under the same rules that Vegas was given upon their entrance into the league, though Vegas will be exempt from the process.

LeBrun said he has the "sense" that the Coyotes have known for some time that they're the likely team to move to the Central Division when the Seattle expansion franchise begins play. "This is an organization that's going to be built around our fans, and as we thought about this on behalf of our fans, we realized that perhaps we wouldn't open the season with our fans in our new building, perhaps the training centre wouldn't be ready".

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says it was an easy decision to approve Seattle expansion for 2021, not 2020, because of concerns about when downtown arena renovations will be done. The Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division, meaning that all four league divisions will balance with eight teams each.

That's a sign revenues are continuing to rise after the success of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The board is also expected to be briefed on collective bargaining talks and the tentative settlement of a concussion lawsuit involving retired players. And ultimately, for our fans, this will be a good thing. With just 230 kilometres separating the two cities, Seattle will ease the Canucks' brutal travel schedule and create the first natural geographic rivalry in franchise history.

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Ten years ago the Seattle SuperSonics exited the Pacific Northwest, leaving a winter-time void in the sports-crazy city of Seattle.

Maybe the biggest question surrounding the team at the moment is what they'll be called.

"Sixteen years ago they started saying that the arena didn't work", said Leiweke.

"And what's the name of the team?" Believe it or not, there are no permanent public ice rinks inside the Seattle city limits, but that will change with the training center, which will feature a grand total of three rinks.

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