Citizens of the Pacific Northwest, listen up! Hockey is back in Seattle! That’s right, as of a 2018 vote, the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors approved a league expansion into the Emerald City. Unfortunately for the less patient among us, the team won’t be taking the ice until the 2021 season; however, fans have good reason to be excited. The NHL’s last expansion project – Las Vegas’ Golden Knights – went to the NHL Playoffs’ Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence. With this newest expansion in Seattle, the league will now consist of 32 teams across the United States and Canada.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Seattle was selected for the new expansion team. The city has a storied past with the sport of hockey. In fact, the 1915 Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup. However, after a short run of nine years, the team folded; and subsequent attempts to return hockey to Seattle have all fallen short.
But the tide has turned, and the hockey gods are smiling kindly upon Seattle. Soon fans of the sport can expect to see slap-shot goals, bone-rattling hits, and amazing feats of athleticism in the comfort of the iconic – and currently under construction – KeyArena. According to CEO and president, Tod Leiweke, and part-owner, Jerry Bruckheimer, the new KeyArena will retain the old arena’s well-known ceiling, but everything else will be brand new, and ready to wow.
The team has yet to announce a name, and its official colors are still a mystery, but anticipation has been brewing like a cup of Starbucks coffee. When the possibility of bringing a team to Seattle was being discussed in early 2018, a ticket drive held to gauge community support proved just how excited fans were. The set goal of 10,000 tickets was surpassed in a mere 12 minutes, with the team having to cap-off the drive at over 32,000 seats sold. Although much surrounding the team remains a mystery, ownership made a splash in July by hiring Ron Francis – one of the best to lace-up skates – as the General Manager. With Francis at the helm, some experts believe Seattle has the chance to acquire top-tier talent.
Fans have continued to speculate on what the team’s name may end up being. Officially, 13 names were submitted to the NHL. Among them: Totems, Evergreens, Raniers, Sockeye, and even Kraken. Sockeye is what many deem to be the frontrunner, as it is believed that the team website’s teal and salmon color scheme may have tipped ownership’s hand.
Regardless of which name is chosen, there is no doubt that the people of the northwest are fully ready to support their new team. So lace-up those skates and grab your sticks; because hockey is back.
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By Joe Pueschner, TDS Communication Intern, and a senior at the University of Wisconsin Madison who loves to cook, hit the gym, and listen to podcasts.