Today the NHL announced that the Board of Governors voted unanimously for Seattle to become the 32nd NHL team in 2021. The NHL also announced that in order to balance the number of teams in each division, the Coyotes will be moving in the Central division, giving each division eight teams. In the summer of 2021 there will be another expansion draft with that same rules as the Vegas expansion draft, which Vegas will be exempt from since they will be receiving none of the $650M expansion fee that Seattle is paying.
The 2021 expansion date is interesting since we’ve been hearing 2020 for so long, but the NHL says that it’s too make sure that Seattle has enough time to finish their $800M upgrade to Key Arena so that it’s up to NHL standards. While I don’t doubt that there’s still a lot of work to be done to the arena, I think that if they needed it to be done by 2020 then it would, but there is the issue of the lockout.
I’m sure you’re already aware of the possibility (and likelihood) of a lockout at the start of the 2020-2021 NHL season, but if you aren’t, the NHL and NHLPA are allowed to opt-out of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) in 2020, and it’s believed that the NHLPA will be doing so. If the two groups are unable to come to a new agreement by the start of the season, then we’ll have yet another lockout to start the season. With the likelihood of a lockout being so high, there’s no reason for the NHL to rush Seattle into the league only to have them not even play in 2020, so 2021 it is.
Moving Arizona to the Central Division isn’t a surprising move since it’s honestly one of the simplest moves. I don’t think that the NHL would want to move Vegas into the Central Division especially since it’s two time zones behind most of the other teams in the Central. It will be interesting to see how Arizona’s rebuild has gone in three years and if the Central is still going to be so much stronger than the Pacific.
The last time that Seattle had profession hockey was in 1924 when the Seattle Metropolitans were a part of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. The name of the Seattle franchise has yet to be determined, but there’s still plenty of time.
Cover photo via: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson