Shea Theodore is the resident expert on Seattle, since the Golden Knights defenseman spent four years playing for the city’s Western Hockey League club as a junior.
He’s looking forward to returning a few seasons from now.
“I think it’s cool. It’s a great city,” Theodore said. “We were about an hour south of downtown, but any time we got a chance to go downtown — whether it was just walking around or checking it out for a day — it was great. Definitely, it’s going to be cool.”
Seattle was unanimously approved Tuesday as the NHL’s 32nd team in a vote by the league’s Board of Governors in Sea Island, Georgia.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest expansion team:
When will the team begin play?
The puck will drop in the Pacific Northwest for the start of the 2021-22 season.
Originally, the ownership group wanted to debut in 2020, but this timeline ensures that the $800 million-plus renovation of Seattle Center Arena and proposed $75 million practice facility will be completed.
By starting in 2021, NHL Seattle also avoids a potential labor dispute interfering with their first season.
What are the rules for the expansion draft?
Exactly the same as when the Golden Knights entered the league in 2017.
The only difference is the Knights are exempt and will not have to submit a list of protected players when the draft takes place in June 2021.
As a result, the Knights will not receive a percentage of the $650 million expansion fee paid by Seattle’s ownership group, which is led by private equity CEO David Bonderman.
“It’s real significant,” Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “We’re still trying to build an organization and acquire organizational depth with our team here. We’re pleased that we won’t be losing a player to Seattle. It will be a good process to be an observer on and not in the uncomfortable position the other 30 teams will be in.”
Who will run the team?
The ownership group, along with NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke and senior advisor Dave Tippett, is expected to hire a general manager after the season.
McCrimmon helped the Knights navigate the expansion process, and his name already has been floated as a possible candidate.
A coach likely would not be hired until closer to the team’s start date, and it’s difficult to project who would be available two or three years from now.
What division will they play in?
The NHL approved a realignment plan starting with the 2021-22 season to balance the divisions with eight teams each.
Seattle will be placed in the Pacific Division near regional rival Vancouver, while Arizona will move to the Central Division.
“We’re pleased that we’re still a member of the Pacific,” McCrimmon said. “It’s good for us to remain where we’ve been.”
What will the team be named?
The Seattle Times ran a poll that attracted nearly 150,000 votes, and Sockeyes defeated Totems in the final.
Metropolitans, Steelheads, Kraken, Sasquatch, Freeze and Emeralds were among the other suggestions for the yet-to-be-named franchise.
“We paid close, close attention,” Leiweke said.