Earlier this month, the ownership group that is working on bringing an NHL franchise to Seattle conducted a season ticket drive in order to demonstrate the viability of a team in the Seattle market. It was an overwhelming success.
There were 10,000 season tickets — their original goal — sold in 12 minutes following the 10 a.m. PT start. Within an hour, over 25,000 had been sold.
If you want a comparison of how well this drive has gone for Seattle, it took the Vegas Golden Knights two days to get 5,000 season-ticket deposits, a month to reach 9,000 and 18 months to hit 16,000 sold.
This is fantastic news for hockey fans in the Pacific Northwest, who have really had nobody to root for. The closest teams are in California or Canada. Even Vancouver fans (not to mention the Canucks organization) will be happy, with a potential regional rivalry in the works. All in all, the prospect of an NHL team in Seattle is great for the game.
Though new franchises have a tough road to becoming competitive, there are reasons to be hopeful that the new franchise will be strong out of the gate. The inaugural season of the Las Vegas Golden Knights has been a huge success.
Despite the Knights' recent woes, they have put together the most remarkable season of any first year team in the modern era. General Manager George McPhee deserves quite a bit of the credit for putting together a strong team. He may have been uniquely suited for the task, having overseen a rebuild in Washington, DC, that eventually produced an elite Capitals team which spent years at the top of the standings.
McPhee might have eventually cobbled together a respectable team, after a couple years of building through the draft. But his immediate success can be attributed to the favorable circumstances in which Vegas entered the league.
The expansion draft rules were changed, allowing teams to protect fewer players. The luxury of selecting players from a stronger pool is hard to overstate. It isn't necessarily the most talented teams that are the most successful, but it helps.
Entering the league alone might be even more of an advantage that the next NHL franchise will have. Previous expansions have included 2 or more franchises competing for the available players. Having the pick of the litter, so to speak, makes it much easier to craft a viable team.
The league has indicated that these friendly rules will be in place when Seattle builds its franchise. It isn't hard to imagine that the process will have similar results this time around.
I'm excited about the NHL coming to Seattle. It has always confused me that the Pacific Northwest lacked a professional hockey team, even as teams sprouted up in unexpected places like Arizona and Florida. After all, the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup.
It will be great for hockey when it returns to Seattle, no matter what. But I'm holding out hope that Seattle will be the new Vegas.
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