NHL Board of Governors Approve Seattle Expansion Team

Ross Houston
December 4, 2018

Team and city executives have already secured more than 30,000 season-ticket deposits, got an arena plan passed through local government and wowed the executive committee of owners.

The NHL Board of Governors unanimously voted in favour of awarding Seattle an NHL franchise on Tuesday, becoming the league's 32 team. The still-unnamed team will begin play in the 2021-22 season, while construction on their future home, the Seattle Center Arena, will begin Wednesday. The Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division, meaning that all four league divisions will balance with eight teams each.

As a senior adviser for the NHL Seattle group, and one of its most recognizable faces, Dave Tippett gets the same two questions nearly every time he talks to a hockey fan.

League commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement on Tuesday at a press conference following the conclusion of the board of governors meetings.

As part of the expansion, Seattle's ownership group will be required to pay a $650-million expansion fee that will be divided equally amongst the league's 31 teams, slightly higher than what Vegas paid for its expansion fee.

The NHL's newest franchise will join Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners and the WNBA's Seattle Storm in the city.

"Today is a historic moment in Seattle sports history", said Leiweke, CEO of NHL Seattle.

An expansion draft will take place in June 2021, Bettman said, under the same rules that favoured the Vegas Golden Knights' entry into the league. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team's protected list.

The remarkable debut by Vegas in 2017, which included a run to the Stanley Cup Final, gave the league more confidence about moving forward so quickly.

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini has been in full support of a new team in Seattle from the get go. He also worked in Vancouver and most recently helped build Tampa Bay into a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference.

While Seattle basks in the news, it's not clear the National Hockey League will be satisfied at 32 teams even with the new team providing balance between the conferences and a natural, cross-border rival for the Vancouver Canucks. No team name, an ownership group they didn't know very well, a building plan that was back then somewhat defined but fairly vague.

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