In lieu of the new Canadian television rights agreement with Rogers Communications, many have speculated that expansion is the next big endeavor in line for the NHL. Even before the landmark agreement, many anticipated that the league's roster of 30 teams would grow to 32 sooner than later.
While the short list of potential destinations still generates debate, Seattle's arena project has been viewed as one of the more likely candidates to land an NHL franchise. In fact, commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly recommended that the league's board of governors make a franchise available to the Seattle market.
With all of that in mind, Chris Daniels of King 5 News in Seattle is reporting that former NHL star Jeremy Roenick was in Seattle on Monday participating in a meeting with the arena project's primary figure head, Chris Hansen, and an investment group to discuss the potential of an expansion franchise in The Emerald City. Daniels cites a source who was in the meeting who states that Roenick wants to be the "front man" for the expansion team. This isn't the first account of Roenick's interest in the Seattle market, as he was reportedly going to be involved in the relocation of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise if their ownership situation remained unresolved.
A potential issue involved with bringing hockey to Seattle is the Memorandum of Understanding Hansen has drafted with the City of Seattle, which bases public financing on the premise of the arena being constructed for an NBA team. Daniels cites King County executive Dow Constantine in his report who says that issue could be reworked with an amendment.
Hansen supplied an alternative course of action in the event a hockey team came to Seattle first, via King 5:
"[The Memorandum of Understanding] would only need to be recrafted if the basketball team was not here, by the time we started construction on a new arena. If the hockey team wanted to come here, and play in Key Arena for a couple of years, and wait until we had a basketball team coming, then no it wouldn't need to be recrafted, but to activate the public financing piece, yes."
KeyArena was the former home of the Seattle SuperSonics and was frequently identified as a temporary home for prospective expansion/relocation teams while construction of the Seattle arena project took place.
The NHL has repeatedly denied any plans to expand despite the persistence of rumors and reports. As it currently stands, the league has a disparity in its two conferences with the Western grouping having two fewer teams than its Eastern counterpart. Expanding with two more teams would solve that issue. In addition, a report at the end of July indicated that an expansion franchise would come with an entrance fee of $275 million, which would be a nice injection of income for a league that has been generating all kinds of revenue streams over the last several months.
h/t Puck Daddy