Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

National Hockey League meets on Seattle expansion for '21-22 season

National Hockey League meets on Seattle expansion for '21-22 season

Ryan Kelly, left, Otto Rogers and Rebecca Moloney cheer the announcement of a new NHL hockey team in Seattle at a celebratory party Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Seattle.

The Seattle franchise, which doesn't yet have a name, received unanimous support from current owners of the NHL's other 31 teams, the league announced Tuesday.

It was initially hoped the team would begin play in 2020, but concerns from the National Hockey League that the franchise's home - which will be known as Seattle Center Arena - won't be ready in time pushed the start date back 12 months. Seattle will be placed in the same division with Vancouver, the closest team by geography, so that means Arizona will be moved out of the Pacific and into Central starting with the 2021 season.

The 32nd team will follow the same rules in the 2021 expansion draft.

The franchise will have to pay a whopping $650 million expansion fee to join the league, or $150 more than what the Vegas Golden Knights paid. In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association became the first American team to win the Stanley Cup (back then, the victor of the PCHA played the victor of the NHL for the cup).

"I remember sharing with Gary Bettman years ago that I thought Seattle could be an incredible market for the NHL", Leiweke said.

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The news means that Seattle will have a representative in three of the four U.S. major leagues, with the Seattle NHL outfit set to join the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL) and the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB), along with the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer (MLS). It said the expansion fee will be apportioned equally to the rest of the league's teams except Las Vegas, which joined the NHL in the 2017-18 season.

"We're going to take our time", Leiweke said. That's when we all knew that this was the right idea.

"I love Seattle", said Bonderman, who has deep ties to the city. But today I think about the fans. "If it was someplace else, I wouldn't have done it".

According to Emily Kaplan of ESPN, no one seems to mind that Seattle will play with the same rules previously offered to a team which went to the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season.

"It's down the road a little bit", Keller, who can become a restricted free agent after next season, said after the Coyotes morning skate prior to their game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV).

Seattle will be joining the National Hockey League in time for the 2021-22 season. Leiweke said arena renovations will cost $800 million and the addition of a state-of-the-art practice facility makes it a total investment of over $1.5 billion. More than 100 years later, they'll have that chance again. The city has been home to minor league hockey clubs since then.

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