Seattle expected to land National Hockey League franchise

Seattle already enjoys huge support for the NFL's Seahawks on both sides of the border

Seattle already enjoys huge support for the NFL's Seahawks on both sides of the border

Clayton Keller will have to wait two more seasons to make a firm assessment, but the Arizona Coyotes center said Tuesday he's looking forward to the Coyotes moving to the Central Division in 2021-22, when the Seattle expansion team plays its first season in the National Hockey League.

Seattle's ownership group led by billionaire David Bonderman and a number of minority partners, including Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is paying US$650 million to join the exclusive club.

David Bonderman will serve as the principal owner of the new franchise, who will play their games at the Seattle Center Arena, which is now undergoing renovations. I know Vancouver's particularly excited about the possibility.

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"Our game is more exciting, entertaining and competitive than ever, and the pool of talented players is deeper and wider than ever", Bettman said in a statement. "But I did a pretty close study on (Vegas) and they did a heck of a job, you've got to give them credit and there's certainly things we can learn from that", he said.

As CEO Tod Leiweke said, "That's when we all knew that this was the right idea".

The announcement came a few moments after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan let the news slip at a watch party in Seattle, prompting cheers: "I got a call from a mole in the room and it was a unanimous vote".

The new team gives the National Hockey League an even 16 franchises in the Eastern and Western conferences and will provide the Vancouver Canucks a natural geographic rival for the first time.

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The move will see the Arizona Coyotes moved to the Western Conference's Central Division, allowing the new Seattle team to start in the eight-team Pacific Division.

"It was clear that this team wants to start in the absolute best right way, " Bettman said. "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 center wouldn't be ready ... so waiting a little longer seemed to make a lot of sense and we ultimately agreed with the league". With expansion comes an expansion draft (set for June 2021). They have given no hints while the public has taken to online suggestions that include everything from the Metropolitans, Totems and Breakers (tributes to Seattle's hockey history) to the Pilots, Steelheads, Sockeyes and even the Kraken. Seattle was the first US city to win the Stanley Cup back in 1917.

"I have business cards I'm going to have to toss out that say Seattle 2020", said Leiweke. Some GMs have said privately they would be more inclined this time to lose one desirable player rather than give up multiple assets to save one.

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