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

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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