Looks like there's another city trying to get its hands on an NHL franchise.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told a Seattle television station there is a group from the area that has contacted the league about getting a team in town.
“We’ve had discussions with a group in Seattle,” Daly said. “Certainly [there are] people who are interested in having NHL hockey in Seattle. I would rather not get into specifics to be fair to that group, or the process.”
Right now there are two organizations seeking new ownership. One appears to be spoken for already -- Atlanta, by a group from Winnipeg -- but the Coyotes are still on the market. They won't be vacating Arizona yet as the city of Glendale agreed to cover much of the operating costs to keep the team in place for another season while the ownership search continues.
Of course, as Daly admits, the biggest hurdle of all for a team in Seattle is the lack of a suitable arena. That fact is what led to the NBA's Supersonics moving to Oklahoma City. Key Arena, long the home for the Sonics, isn't suitable for enough seats for the NHL. It had a long-time tenant in the Western Hockey League's Seattle Thunderbirds -- who have a great logo, in my humble opinion -- but there are only 10,000 or so unobstructed views. Plus, the place is old, by arena standards.
For this reason alone, relocation to the Puget Sound area isn't feasible at the moment. To do so, the fight for a new arena in Seattle or the surrounding area -- neighboring city Bellevue has been thrown out as an option -- would have to resume. It did not go very well for Sonics ownership last time, finding the state unwilling to commit much in the way of public funds. There is also a group interested in bringing the NBA back to town, so possibly the two groups, assuming they aren't the same, could join together and try to secure a new building.
The other cities that have long been mentioned in grabbing NHL teams are Hamilton, Ontario (Jim Balsillie), Quebec City, whose fans have been seen at Islanders games in old Nordiques jerseys, and Kansas City, which has a brand new arena without a main tenant.
The NHL seems like it would be a good fit in the Seattle metro area -- the 13th largest television market in the United States. There would instantly be a natural rivalry with the Canucks as Vancouver is about two hours up I-5. It is a cold-weather city that has long shown support to minor league teams not only in Seattle, but in nearby Tacoma and Everett, too. Plus it's a sports market that has shown well, with the city's support of the MLS Sounders as Exhibit A.
The city has long had ties to hockey but has never made its way into the NHL. For an explanation of the history of hockey in Seattle and why the biggest league has never made it to town, take a read here.
Little known fact: Did you know the first team from the USA to win the Stanley Cup was the Seattle Metropolitans in 1917?
-- Brian Stubits