Is Seattle right back in the race to get an NHL team?

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Trust us, there’s an NHL story in here somewhere. Just be patient because the first stuff is important.

Yesterday in Utah, NBA commissioner David Stern said he was “more hopeful than I am confident right now” that Sacramento can salvage its plan to build a new arena and keep the Kings in town. (If you want to know why the arena plan has moved onto thin ice, read this.)

Suffice to say Stern’s statement represented a downgrade from the optimism of late February after a handshake agreement with the city, the Kings’ owners, and the NBA was reached to build a new arena and keep the team in town.

That handshake agreement also appeared to hurt Seattle’s chances of landing an NBA team, as the Kings and the league-owned New Orleans Hornets were the two main relocation candidates. The Hornets still don’t have a new owner, but Stern has indicated a sale could be announced soon. Which sort of sounds familiar and appropriately leads us into the NHL stuff.

If Seattle can snag an NBA team – let’s say it’s the Kings (if they don’t go to Anaheim) – there are already plans in place to build a new arena. However, it’s possible that new arena will only be built should it be guaranteed a second tenant, that being an NHL team.

In other words, if Seattle can snag an NBA team, Seattle greatly improves it chances of getting an NHL team like, say – gee, I dunno – the Phoenix Coyotes.

Your head swimming yet?

PS — No truth to the rumor Quebec City has plans to build Sacramento a new arena.

PPS — Coyotes CEO Mike Nealy is confident the team will be staying in Glendale.

PPPS — Seattle Islanders?