In this Oct. 8, 2018, file photo, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, right, high-five's Washington Wild hockey team wing Jaina Goscinski, 11, as Tod Leiweke, CEO of NHL Seattle, looks on during a news conference in Seattle.

AP Photo

NHL Awards Expansion Team To Seattle

December 04, 2018 - 12:37 pm

SEA ISLAND, Ga. (AP) -- Commissioner Gary Bettman has announced the NHL is expanding to Seattle beginning in the 2021-22 season.

Bettman said the vote by the Board of Governors was unanimous, pointing out how expansion to Seattle balances out the conferences, gives the NHL a footprint in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and provides the nearby Vancouver Canucks with a natural rival.

Fans at a downtown Seattle bar erupted with cheers following the announcement that the city was being awarded the 32nd NHL franchise. There was a hint of disappointment, however, since the date to start play was pushed back a year due to uncertainty over completing renovations at KeyArena in time.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan took a bit of the suspense away by making the announcement to the crowd about 10 minutes before the official word came from Bettman.

The NHL team will be Seattle's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008. The new franchise will require realignment to even out the Central and Pacific Divisions. Many expect the Arizona Coyotes to be moved to the Central Division.

Seattle Hockey Partners will pay NHL owners $650 million to join. The group is led by majority owner David Bonderman, movie and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer and president and CEO Tod Leiweke.

The team does not yet have a name.