Everything seemed to be going according to plan for the ownership group hoping to bring a National Hockey League team to Seattle. Another step toward putting another NHL team in the Pacific Northwest was taken back in March after the group led by billionaire David Bonderman and filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer submitted an expansion application to the league for a team in Seattle in February. The Los Angeles-based Oak View Group made headlines when it revealed that it reached its initial goal of 10,000 deposits in 12 minutes, and finally received more than 25,000 deposits for season tickets through a ticket drive.
It seemed more and more certain that Seattle will get its hockey club, the 32nd team in the league... However on Saturday, news broke that there might be now a new major roadblock for Seattle.
It appears that the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group will have to wait a little longer to get the final approval. Many expected that the conditional approval for an expansion franchise for Seattle would be discussed and granted at the Board of Governors meetings next month, however NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has revealed that plan has changed.
“Is it going to be on the June agenda? No," he told both Tim Booth and Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press. "After that, could it be September? Could it be the annual meeting in December? It’s possible.”
Bettman seems to think that the best way to get people even more excited about the process in the West is to drag things out...
“What we have said to the people - David Bonderman’s (Oak View Group) - is we’re on your timetable," Bettman said, adding that the NHL still has plenty of work to do with this specific process.
"We have to finish doing our due diligence and our homework. We need to have the timetable understanding as to when the building’s going to get done. We can move as fast or as slowly as you want. There’s no rush."
The commissioner also added that, in the meantime, the ownership group in Seattle should focus on the new arena and the building process there in Emerald City.
“We’re in the middle of the process. They’re doing their homework, and they’re proceeding on two fronts because they’ve got to renovate a building and they’ve got to pursue the team and they’re doing both very nicely. They’re working with the city, they hired (CEO of the prospective team) Tod Leiweke."
The fans in Seattle made it clear that they want an NHL team in their city during the ticket drive. Reports have always said that a new expansion club wouldn't play in the league before the 2020-21 season. However, let's hope for Seattle there are no more bumps in the road like this one on the horizon...