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The pros and cons of bringing an NHL team to Seattle, Washington

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Yes, it’s foolish to read too much into a report that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly admitted that at least one group has discussed the possibility of bringing a team to Seattle. Daly was quick to say that the unnamed group wouldn’t be ready to make a move before the 2010-11 season starts, for one thing. It’s also true that the NHL has flirted with other markets without results so far, with Quebec City and Kansas City coming to mind.

So while it’s fun to imagine a marriage of grunge, over-priced coffee and hockey, it’s important to realize that it’s far from an impending reality. If nothing else, it’s a pretty interesting concept to consider, though. For the sake of fun, here are a few of the reasons why a Seattle team could work and some of the obstacles along the way.

Why a Seattle team could work

Canucks overflow?: The NHL has been reluctant to add another team in Toronto’s general area partially out of fear of how such a move would hurt the Buffalo Sabres franchise. Many hockey-starved fans will make the trip to the U.S. to catch Sabres games since Maple Leafs tickets are so tough to come by.

It’s likely that a Seattle-based franchise would enjoy a similar relationship. (While different Web sites provide a variety of results on the driving distance between the cities, it seems safe to say that the drive is less than 200 miles.)

A solid market in its own right: Seattle’s metropolitan area is the 15th-largest in the United States, while its 560K+ population would rank it right behind the Washington Capitals according to this table. We can quibble about the exact numbers from the 2010 Census, but the market seems to be showing promising signs of growth and already ranks as a nice home for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners.

Washington’s decent history with hockey: It’s important to factor a market’s history with the sport, too. Chris Daniels provides a quick summary of the sport’s history in the state of Washington.

Seattle has long been discussed in NHL circles. The Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917. The Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds have been successful at the Western Hockey League level.

Seattle’s biggest obstacle

One cannot discuss a possible NHL team in Seattle without referencing the ugly departure of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics, though. While there are a variety of factors that made that situation a little more complicated than a failed market, the one legitimate concern was the viability of Key Arena.

The arena’s capacity for basketball games is a little more than 17,000, but that total would probably be a bit lower for an NHL game. Hockey teams generate much of their revenue from the box office, so that might be a considerable turn-off.

Daly discussed some perceived problems with the seats themselves.

But Daly says he still has concerns about a possible venue for an NHL Franchise.

“Key Arena is a difficult arena for hockey. How many of those seats would be obstructed view seats?” he said.

There might be some other problems with adding a Seattle team, but Key Arena would probably be the key stumbling block.

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There are some significant reasons why a team would and would not work in Seattle, but it seems like an enticing possibility overall. While the city seemed unwilling to build an entirely new arena to keep the Sonics, there were signs that people were willing to renovate Key Arena to make it work. Maybe a renovated Key Arena wouldn’t be an ideal fit for a new or relocated team, but there’s a lot to like about the idea of an NHL team coming to Seattle anyway.

Sharks scratch Flames’ big lead, Calgary wins anyway

Calgary Flames' Mikael Backlund (11) chases down the puck against San Jose Sharks' Tomas Hertl (48) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
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If you turned off Thursday’s Calgary Flames – San Jose Sharks game early, you’ll probably be stunned to see that Calgary won 6-5 via a shootout.

For instance:

  • A Sharks fan may have bitterly called it a night when Calgary went up 4-1.
  • Conversely, a Flames devotee might have retired after San Jose took a 5-4 lead, possibly with a broken remote.

The Flames only trailed for about two minutes before scoring the last “real” goal of the game, eventually taking their third straight win thanks to a shootout triumph.

It’s been a strange ride for Calgary, with its most recent win happening after Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma were punished with a healthy scratch. As strange as this game was, the “charity point” can leave both teams looking through a lot of film, yet with something gained as well.

Ultimately, the message may very well be: don’t sleep on these teams.

(In less positive news, Karri Ramo is injured, and it doesn’t look good.

Jonas Hiller closing out the game on a hot streak could be pretty important if Ramo’s out for some time.)

By winning fifth straight, Caps extend Wild’s slump to seven losses

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Alex Ovechkin scored three times in the second period for his 14th career hat trick, and the Washington Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Thursday night.

Ovechkin, who leads the league with 34 goals, has 13 in his past 13 games. Nicklas Backstrom had three assists and Jason Chimera added an empty-netter for Washington, which improved to a league-best 20-5-2 on the road.

Braden Holtby made 33 saves for the Capitals, who won their fifth consecutive game and became the first team to reach 40 victories this season.

Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund scored for the Wild, but Minnesota lost for the 12th time in its past 13 games (1-10-2). Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for the Wild, who have lost seven in a row at home (0-4-3).

Ovechkin’s third goal, which deflected off both the post and the back of Dubnyk into the net, was upheld following a coach’s challenge. Wild coach Mike Yeo challenged that the puck had left the zone for offsides, but the call stood after a review showed that Backstrom stopped the puck before it crossed the blue line.

The goal gave Ovechkin his first hat trick since he scored four goals against Tampa Bay on Dec. 10, 2013.

It wasn’t the only fortunate bounce for Ovechkin on the night, and the five-time 50-goal scorer capitalized on each opportunity.

A shot from T.J. Oshie deflected off of Minnesota forward Zach Parise across the ice right to Ovechkin in the left faceoff circle and Ovechkin quickly snapped off a shot to beat Dubnyk, who couldn’t get across the crease to get into position. Three minutes later, Ovechkin scored on the power play when a point shot bounced off the end boards right to Ovechkin in front of the net.

The tally provided some relief for the Capitals’ surprisingly ineffective power play. Washington had one power play in its previous six games, an empty-netter for the only goal in its previous 20 power-play chances. The Capitals were 1 of 5 on the power play on Thursday.

Coyle scored for the fifth time in eight games in the second, but second periods have doomed the Wild during their slump. Minnesota has been outscored 13-3 in the period in five straight losses.

Suter scored his sixth goal of the season on the power play in the third as Minnesota went 1 of 5 with the man advantage.

NOTES: Washington C Evgeny Kuznetsov left in the third period after he was hit in the face by the stick of Mikael Granlund off a faceoff. … Backstrom has 20 points in his last 17 games. … Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon missed his second straight game with an unspecified deep bruise. Spurgeon has returned to practice, but was held out again. … Holtby is 27-1-3 in his last 31 games with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick helps him make more history

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

(He also passed Jean Beliveau for 39th all-time in goals with his 509th, as NHL.com notes.)

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Update: Minnesota managed three goals, but it wasn’t enough, as Washington got the edge 4-3.