Seattle

AP Images

NHL says Seattle still in mix to host 2021 draft

2 Comments

SEATTLE — NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says Seattle remains in contention to host the 2021 draft despite arena construction delays.

Daly told The Associated Press on Friday that the league would like to decide on the host at least a year out. Seattle officials have been hoping the city’s new arena could be the site of the league entry draft and the expansion draft as part of the lead up to the debut of the city’s NHL franchise for the 2021-22 season.

Seattle officials were hoping to have the building open by early spring 2021 but design delays and a change in general contractors has delayed the project.

Mortenson, the new contractor, has been given incentives to try to have the arena ready by June 1, 2021, which would also allow it to host a full home slate for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

Team officials have said they’ll have a better idea of the timeline early next year.

Daly said the building isn’t the only factor in determining a draft site.

”There are a lot of logistical issues you have to make sure are squared away before you make a decision like that,” Daly said. ”If they don’t get the draft in ’21, it’s not going to be long before they have a draft. That’s been part of our discussions already. It’s really part of the ownership transaction.”

The cost of the privately funded project, which is being built on the site of the former KeyArena, has grown to between $900 million and $930 million. The cost was originally expected to be about $650 million.

Part of Seattle’s NHL future is honoring its hockey past

4 Comments

SEATTLE (AP) — The preview center for Seattle’s NHL franchise overloads visitors’ senses with pictures and video providing a peek at what they’re going to get when the team begins play in its flashy new arena for the 2021-22 season.

For those in charge of the franchise, the locker unveiled Tuesday with the nameplate of Guyle Fielder on the front and filled with equipment from more than a half-century ago, along with an old Seattle Totems sweater hanging on the frame, is just as important as all that future tech.

Fielder is far from a household name in hockey circles. But for a time in the 1950s and 60s, he was one of the best hockey players in North America not playing in the NHL, and he called Seattle home for the majority of his career. So while pointing toward what’s to come, the new franchise also wants to honor the city’s hockey past, starting with Fielder.

When his career ended in 1973, Fielder had 1,929 career points – 438 goals and 1,491 assists – in the Western Hockey League. While the competition was not on par with the NHL, Fielder still has the fourth-most points among pro hockey players in North America, trailing only Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr and Gordie Howe.

”The game of hockey is such a great game and I think a lot of people don’t know that there is a real history of it here,” said Dave Tippett, the former NHL coach serving as a senior adviser to the Seattle franchise. ”They’ve got two very good junior franchises here but the history of the game has been around here a long time. History with some different buildings. It’s doing everything we can do to honor the game and to build the game.”

The nod to history is important to Tippett and team President Tod Leiweke. And it made sense to honor Fielder first with a locker dedicated to the 88-year-old that is a permanent fixture in the team’s preview center. The franchise also unveiled an award in Fielder’s name that will be given out annually to one of its players.

”Tod is a hockey nut and he loves Seattle and he wants to make sure this franchise is built right and honors the past while also doing everything he can do to build a top-notch franchise,” Tippett said.

Fielder played in the era of the Original Six when breaking into the NHL was difficult for even the best players. When he failed to make the Chicago Blackhawks roster, Fielder decided to ply his trade professionally on the West Coast.

Fielder developed into the best player of his era out West. His 22-year career spanned six different WHL franchises, but he spent most of his time in Seattle, first with the Americans and later with the Totems. It’s his green Totems jersey hanging on the ceremonial locker. Nearby is the ”Guyle Fielder Trophy,” given to the points leader in the WHL each season. Watching as Fielder was honored was former teammate Jim Powers, one of the wingers who was the recipient of many of those Fielder assists.

The day was emotional at times for Fielder, who said he hopes he’s still around for the first game in 2021.

”It was a great city to play in. They had great fans. I’m a little disappointed that they (didn’t) have the National Hockey League here 50 years ago because they deserve it,” Fielder said. ”They are great fans. You wait and see, as the seasons go along they’re going to support this team.”

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Seattle NHL arena not expected to open until middle of 2021

2 Comments

SEATTLE (AP) — The arena for Seattle’s new NHL franchise won’t be completed until late spring or summer of 2021 but that shouldn’t have any impact on the expansion team’s first season.

Team President Tod Leiweke said Thursday the delay could end up affecting some other plans for the franchise, including the hopes of hosting the 2021 NHL draft. After being awarded the league’s 32nd team last December, Seattle officials were hoping to have the building open by early spring 2021, but design delays and a change in general contractors has delayed the project.

Leiweke said Mortenson, the new contractor, has been provided with incentives to try to have the arena ready by June 1, 2021, in the hope of having the building host the team’s expansion draft, the NHL draft and a full home slate for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

”We have had discussions with the NHL, they’re open to that idea, where we would host not only the expansion draft in the building but the full league draft,” Leiweke said. ”That would be a heck of a way to start a franchise. We are fully motivated.”

Getting the Storm back into the building is a major priority, Leiweke said. Coming off winning the WNBA title last season, the Storm will play this season and the next in temporary homes around the Seattle area.

Ken Johnson, construction executive with Oak View Group, said they should have a more detailed construction timeline by next spring.

”The Storm will play in this building and they’re not really a tenant, they’re a partner,” Leiweke said. ”We have deep admiration for them and what they do. We have a deep admiration for their championships. Hopefully, some of that will rub off on other teams in the building.”

The price of the privately funded project, which is being built on the site of the former KeyArena, has grown to between $900 million and $930 million, Leiweke said. The price was originally expected to be about $650 million.

Mortenson has agreed to a guaranteed price for the project and Leiweke said there are contingencies built in should unexpected issues arise.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Golden Knights could win big thanks to Seattle’s expansion draft

6 Comments

What if the Vegas Golden Knights “win” the expansion draft … again?

In a fascinating article that’s absolutely worth your time (sub required), The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun ran down how the Golden Knights could leverage the fact that they’re exempt from exposing players to Seattle’s expansion draft to land some great trades from teams who don’t want to lose players for nothing.

Parking ticket

The possibilities are almost overwhelming, especially if GM George McPhee finds creative ways to get assets, picks, and players from teams unable to protect certain guys Seattle might otherwise get. What if McPhee gets really creative by pushing the limits to help teams essentially “circumvent” the expansion draft?

One idea might be to “park” a player in Vegas for the expansion draft, giving the Golden Knights some sort of asset, only for Vegas to send that player back later on?

The league will allegedly take measures to make sure that doesn’t happen.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told LeBrun that “you can’t park players on Vegas,” hinting that, since the NHL must approve all transactions, they could reject a shady-looking deal.

“I don’t see that happening, they’re just not part of this expansion,” Daly said. “Obviously, we’ll make sure that Vegas isn’t used in the process by other clubs to circumvent the purpose of intent of the expansion draft rules, but I don’t anticipate that happening.’’

Actually enforcing circumventing moves could end up being easier said than done, however.

Thin line between “parking” and a valid trade

Sure, the league could stand in the way of truly blatant moves, much like they shot down that cap-circumventing Ilya Kovalchuk contract with the New Jersey Devils.

But what about more straightforward trades, where a team senses they’d lose a player, so they give up on that guy for picks and prospects? This is a league where Taylor Hall was traded one-for-one for Adam Larsson, so how far could the NHL go in making value judgments for potential trades?

LeBrun provides an example of the Predators theoretically trading P.K. Subban to Vegas as the odd man out, and down the line, that could make sense even outside of the expansion draft. After all, Subban will be getting up there in the years by then – he’s already 29 – and Nashville might legitimately prefer to stick with their other key defensemen, what with Roman Josi nearing a raise and Subban carrying a $9M cap hit.

And, really, how long can you keep a player “parked” before he’s fair game again?

Let’s say a player is sent to Vegas for a season, only to return to his original team. What would make such a move unacceptable when you remember the path of Jamie Oleksiak? The Penguins traded a fourth-round pick to Dallas for the towering defenseman back in Dec. 2017, only to get their draft pick back from Dallas when they returned Oleksiak to the Stars on Jan. 28 of this year. None of this is to say the Oleksiak trades were nefarious. Instead, there’s precedent for recent returns, so even handing out “parking violations” might be quite challenging.

Frankly, it all sounds like a nightmare for the NHL to try to police.

Really, though, the greatest “deterrent” arguably should be just how poorly teams handled trades to the Golden Knights to avoid protection issues.

Repeating history?

Most infamously, the Panthers sent Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith to Vegas, to a) get rid of Smith’s contract and b) protect the likes of marginal defenseman Alex Petrovic. But check out this trade history and you’ll see other teams who pulled a muscle trying to beat the system. The Blue Jackets ended up doing all sorts of maneuvering, only to make the wrong call on William Karlsson. The Wild fared very poorly. Plenty of teams loaded up Vegas with draft picks, and in just about every case, the Golden Knights profited greatly from those GMs outsmarting themselves.

Seattle will try to do the same thing, but teams will be wary of making those mistakes again — plus they’ll have Vegas to work with.

Also, it’s easy to say you don’t want to repeat history with past mistakes, but Flames GM Brad Treliving gave an interesting take on that to LeBrun:

” … Are people going to be a little more hesitant because of the history and success Vegas has had of doing side deals? Maybe,” Treliving said. “But at the end of the day, you’re not going to say, `I’m not going to do this because something did or didn’t happen last time.’ You’re going to make the best decisions for the club. It’s always easy to Monday morning quarterback it, but the biggest thing is that everyone is going to be more familiar with the process. It’s the same rules.”

At some point in reading this post, you might be thinking that Vegas has an unfair advantage. Shouldn’t they have to give up a player in Seattle’s expansion draft after being able to go through the NHL’s teams like a buffet during their own expansion draft?

LeBrun reports that some GMs grumbled to him about that exemption, but the gripes lose their muster when you remember that the Golden Knights also aren’t getting a cut from the $650 million expansion fee from Seattle.

Ultimately, it is what it is when it comes to Vegas being exempt.

The Golden Knights could really be a wild card during expansion draft time, so good luck to the NHL in trying to keep all of that in control. Like Vegas’ zany pregame shows, this also only makes it a tougher act for Seattle to follow, too.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bettman: Seattle will host NHL draft, All-Star weekend

7 Comments

SEATTLE — On his first trip to Seattle since the city was granted the NHL’s 32nd franchise, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced a couple more rewards for the future franchise’s investment.

Bettman said the league has promised Seattle it will host All-Star weekend within its first seven seasons, with the team slated to begin play in 2021-22. Bettman also says Seattle will host the NHL draft, and that event will likely be awarded before the All-Star Game arrives.

”It doesn’t mean we are going to wait seven years,” Bettman said. ”We’re going to be bringing league events here. This is where we want to be.”

Bettman’s unexpected and informal announcement was part of his first visit to Seattle since the franchise was approved by the league’s Board of Governors in early December. Bettman met with members of the ownership group, political leaders in the city, fans who have placed deposits on season tickets and reviewed the status of the massive renovation of the arena at Seattle Center where the team will play.

Seattle’s ownership group has put up over $1.5 billion in expansion fees, upgrades to the building formerly known as KeyArena, and a state-of-the-art practice facility that is expected to open in time to host the first training camp.

”If you talk about in terms of kicking the tires, the tires are in great shape,” Bettman said. ”We couldn’t be more excited. When the board made the decision to come to Seattle, we knew it was the right decision, it would be a great decision and everything that has transpired has not only lived up to expectation but has exceeded our expectations.”

The franchise initially hoped to open for the 2020 season, but it is using the additional year to ensure the arena is operational well ahead of the team’s home opener. It also gives the team more time to put together its hockey staff.

The team still doesn’t have a name or color scheme. Bettman said the league would mostly stay out of the selection process, aside from working with the Seattle franchise in colors, trademarks and other logistical parts of the expansion name. Seattle team president and CEO Tod Leiweke said the goal is to have a name announced by the middle of 2019. The franchise will be taking major input from fans that have put deposits down on season tickets.

Leiweke said the team’s goal is to have a portal launched within the next 60 days for season-ticket depositors to provide feedback and to inform them of the timeframe for decisions and announcements moving forward.

”If I have my way, their fingerprints are going to be all over this franchise. Certainly a team name, but they’re going to help us build this,” Leiweke said.

Some fans are hoping to see a return of the Seattle Metropolitans – a historic name in Seattle, since the Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917. That name might be off the table, though, since the NHL has a division with that name.

Bettman was asked if that name can be ruled out.

”Viscerally, yes,” he said, ”but I never say never to anything.”