With expected return of NBA, Seattle’s NHL chances improve


In case you haven’t been reading ProBasketballTalk, it appears all but certain the NBA will be returning to Seattle next season in the guise of the soon-to-be-former Sacramento Kings.

Yesterday, the NBA formally announced the Kings had been sold to a group led by investor Chris Hansen.

Hansen has been working hard to bring basketball back to Seattle, which lost the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008.

If all goes to plan, the Sonics II will play at KeyArena for two seasons before moving into a brand new arena.

Which brings us to the point of the post — that brand new arena could also house an NHL franchise, something Hansen has said he’d welcome as a second tenant.

Now, a place to play is only the first thing Seattle would need in order to get an NHL team.

The second thing it would need is, you know, a team.

One potential relocation candidate has been (still is?) Phoenix; however, Greg Jamison has said his investor group plans to close on its purchase of the Coyotes by the end of the month. If that happens (yes, a pretty big if given past history), Seattle hockey fans might have to hope for an expansion team.

Of course, the same questions would remain about the viability of Seattle as an NHL market, even with a new arena.

For all the people in the metropolitan area (approx. 3.5 million), are there enough people that actually like hockey?

And would an NHL franchise be able to survive in a city that would also have the NBA, NFL, and MLB, plus a popular MLS team and a major NCAA program at the University of Washington?

Related: Chicago AHL owner eager to own Seattle NHL team

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.