Seattle begins NHL expansion process

Updated December 9, 2017 - 8:09 pm

The city of Seattle doesn’t have an NHL team. Yet.

That didn’t stop the city’s mayor, Jenny Durkan, from laying the smack down on their soon-to-be rival from Vancouver.

“We saw the Canucks are really excited to come here and get beat,” Durkan said last week. “And we’re excited to go up north. We remember Seattle has more Stanley Cups, and we plan to add to that.”

Savage.

The NHL on Thursday announced it will consider an application from billionaire David Bonderman and Hollywood mogul Jerry Bruckheimer to bring an expansion team to Seattle for the start of the 2020-21 season.

The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a $600 million renovation of KeyArena, paving the way for Seattle to become the league’s 32nd team.

“From everything I know, viscerally, I think (Seattle) will be a good market,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said after the board of governors meeting in Manalapan, Florida. “I think the geographic rivalry with Vancouver as potential will be nice. Building up a bigger presence in the Pacific Northwest for the NHL, a place that we know has great hockey interest at a variety of other levels, it’s an intriguing possibility. But we’ve got homework to do.”

Seattle has never had an NHL team, but the Seattle Metropolitans played in the old Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915 to 1924 and became the first American team to win the Stanley Cup in 1917.

That’s two years after the Vancouver Millionaires won the cup, but don’t tell Durkan.

Seattle is the No. 14 media market in the U.S. and the only city in the top 25 without an NBA and NHL team.

In addition to the natural rivalry with the Canucks, an expansion team in Seattle would provide balance to the league. There are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference with 15 in the Western Conference.

“Obviously, there a lot of differences between Seattle and Quebec City, not the least of which is our conference alignment,” Bettman said. “Our plan is just to look at Seattle at this point.”

Dream come true

The St. Louis Blues were forced to dress a vending machine worker as their emergency goaltender for the first period Thursday against Dallas.

Tyler Stewart, 25, participated in pregame warmups and watched the first period from the dressing room after Blues backup Carter Hutton was injured in the morning skate. Ville Husso was called up from the minors but didn’t arrive at the arena until late in the first period.

Stewart, a Blues season-ticket holder, played junior hockey and club hockey at Saint Louis University.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Stewart said. “This was my Christmas present.”

Lighting the lamp

The NHL’s crackdown on slashing has led to more offense through the first two months of the season.

The leaguewide average of 6.01 goals per game is the highest since the 2005-06 season when a series of rule changes was implemented to open up the game.

In all, goal scoring has increased by more than 12 percent from the same time last season. The additional penalties have led to a 14 percent increase of power-play goals and a 38 percent jump in short-handed goals.

“I do think that has created certainly more room for our players to be offensive,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press. “I think over time, clearly since we increased the standard for hooking and holding and interference (in 2005-06), slashing has become a way to defend and an effective way to defend, and I think this year it’s a less effective way to defend.”

Canes staying put

Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. reached an agreement to sell a majority interest in the team to Dallas-based businessman Tom Dundon.

Karmanos bought the franchise in 1994 when it was the Hartford Whalers and moved it to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1997.

“This is not a team that’s being moved,” Bettman said of the Hurricanes.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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