Seattle has been rumored as a potential candidate city for an NHL team for quite some time, but we've never really had much evidence that the league would be interested or that there'd be an ownership group interested in bringing a team there.
That is, until now. Via KING5 in Seattle, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says that discussions have taken place with a Seattle group interested in bringing a team there.
We've had discussions with a group in Seattle," said Daly, "Certainly people who are interested in having NHL hockey in Seattle. I would rather not get into specifics to be fair to that group, or the process."
These sorts of discussions seem to happen all the time -- groups in Quebec, Winnipeg, Kansas City and a million other places all want a team too and have talked to the NHL about it, and only one of them could be called successful after decades of trying -- so we don't know how seriously to take this whole thing.
We simply don't know how far along those discussions are. To say a team could play in Seattle this coming season or even in two seasons would be premature, however. For such a thing to come fully to fruition, a new arena would almost certainly have to be built -- and that could take years. And that's before a team could even be purchased.
Key Arena seats only 11,000 for hockey thanks to a horrible configuration in which the center-hung scoreboard dangles over the blueline. The ice sits drastically off-center in the building, renovated with basketball, not hockey, in mind back in 1996 and thousands of seats have poor sightlines.
The situation in Key Arena is so bad that the Western Hockey League's Thunderbirds moved out of the building and into their own gorgeous, 6,500-seat arena 30 minutes south of Seattle proper. The building was home to the Seattle Sonics of the NBA before they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.
Part of the reason the Sonics left town had to do with the taxpayers lack of desire to build a new arena, among a whole bunch of other sleazy things. The takeaway, though, is that any new owner wishing to move an NHL franchise to Seattle would have to shell out the money for a new building on their own, and considering that private financing for sports arenas isn't exactly how things are done these days, it seems like a long shot.
Daly does indicate that the NHL has interest in the city, though, so there could definitely be some will to get something done here if a group has the necessary money.
All in all, Seattle would likely be a fantastic market for NHL hockey if they can get their ducks in a row, and when Daly says things like "all leagues want stability in ownership and location, and we're no different," it seems like the interest is definitely there. Especially over places like Phoenix, perhaps.
Seattle does have a history of major league hockey. The Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association won the Stanley Cup, defeating the Montreal Canadiens, in 1917. They folded in 1924, and Seattle hasn't seen major pro hockey since.