The NHL is on Olympic break as its best players compete for the gold medal in Sochi, but that hasn’t prevented expansion discussions.
The Seattle Times reported Wednesday that the league has talked with people who might be interested in owning an NHL franchise in that city.
“Local sources have said the league has held discussions with potential ownership groups here about what the fee would be to land an expansion franchise to begin play in the 2015-16 season,” Geoff Baker wrote. “Reports last summer had pegged it at $275 million, but sources now say they expect the price to be somewhere in the $200 million-to-$250 million range.”
“Sources have indicated that talks between the NHL and local officials were far enough along that some type of announcement could be made within weeks of the Sochi Olympics concluding,” Baker later added. “Daly told reporters in Sochi this week that no expansion announcement was imminent.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked earlier in the week about expansion to Seattle, and he described the city as a “good hockey market.”
“I think whenever I’m asked that question, I make the same comments,” Daly said, per CBC Sports. “The Pacific Northwest, we think is a good hockey area. I think the Vancouver Canucks have done extraordinarily well in developing that area as a good hockey market. Doesn’t mean we’re going to expand there, doesn’t mean we’ve made any decisions in that regard.”
NHL expansion into Seattle makes sense. It’s a passionate sports city with loyal fans who show great support for the two existing professional franchises, MLB’s Seattle Mariners and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
Both divisions in the NHL’s Western Conference have seven teams, one fewer than each of the divisions in the East. A Seattle franchise easily could be placed in the Pacific Division.