NHL Realignment: Incoming Seattle Franchise To Shake Up Western Conference


The NHL's 32nd team was unanimously approved in a vote and will begin play in 2021-22 in a renovated Key Arena. The rules will likely be similar to the 2017 expansion draft for the incoming Vegas Golden Knights, which allowed teams to either protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender or, one goaltender and eight skaters regardless of position.

Seattle pushed to begin play in 2020-21, but the National Hockey League rejected the proposal based on trepidation about the $700 million renovation to downtown KeyArena being completed on that schedule.

The Board of Governors also approved a realignment plan that will shift the Coyotes from the Pacific Division to the Central, joining the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets, giving the National Hockey League four divisions with eight teams each; the Central now currently has seven teams. The new franchise will participate in an expansion draft in 2021 when they will look to assemble a competitive roster ahead of their inaugural season.

"Today is a day for celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams and for our 101-year-old sports league", Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Seattle's ownership group led by billionaire David Bonderman and a number of minority partners, including Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, will pay an expansion fee of US$650 million.

While the U.S. Pacific Northwest has little recent hockey history at the professional level, the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, defeating the Montreal Canadiens in 1917.

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"Our fans should take comfort in knowing they will continue to see us play our Pacific Division rivals multiple times a year, including squaring off with Vegas for desert bragging rights, while also getting to see new rivalries with some legacy franchises", Cohen said.

Like most any expansion team, the Seattle To Be Determined's will engage in an expansion draft to construct their team.

"We have momentum, and this is a business of recruitment", Leiweke said. The as-yet unnamed franchise will be the Emerald City's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008.

When Canadians think of Seattle, much of what we know comes from media and entertainment. "By the time it gets here, you'll have a pretty good idea of where you think teams are going to fall". KeyArena is scheduled to open in March 2021.

The 2021-22 season. Seattle would have loved to have its team take the ice for the 2020-21 season, but arena renovations may not be done in time and no one wants to risk it. "If it were someplace else, I wouldn't have done it". "As we went through application process and got more and more information and did our due diligence process on the Seattle market, it certainly became even more attractive". "That's why today happened".