By Nate Hanson, Sports Radio KJR
As each day of June is marked off the calendar it seems more and more likely that Seattle will have an NHL team for the 2013-14 season. Jon Rosen of Fox Sports West told The Furness Show that he expects a marriage between the NHL and Seattle in the near future.
“It’s gonna happen eventually,” he said. “This is something that’s gonna happen within the next several years and it’s gonna happen most likely before that arena gets eventually built.”
During CBC’s Hockey Night in America postgame show following Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, Elliotte Friedman revealed that the Vancouver Canucks intended to move its AHL team to KeyArena in Seattle. However, the Canucks were reportedly denied KeyArena because it “was not available for hockey.” Glenn Healy of CBC then announced that two investors are willing to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes for $220 million, and move them to Seattle if the group does not get what it wants from city of Glendale by July 2.
“Seattle is right now the number one American market that does not have an NHL team,” Rosen said. “Certainly when that new arena is built, there will be an NHL team there.”
But the July 2 deadline set by Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza could mean the NHL unites with Seattle before Chris Hansen’s new arena is standing, much less operational. KeyArena would likely house the Coyotes for a temporary time. It might not be available for AHL hockey, but it seems the former home of the Sonics is available to house an NHL team. With that said, KeyArena might not fit the definition of a hockey-friendly facility.
“It’s a building where of course you have one-third of one end of the rink just draped off where you can’t see anything from the upper deck,” Rosen said. “It’s not an ideal hockey rink.”
However, Rosen cites Tampa Bay and Phoenix as franchises that played in temporary facilities before moving to a hockey-friendly arena. Rosen mentioned that Seattle could possibly host home games throughout the Seattle area, including Kent and Everett, until the new arena is ready.
“It might be good to kind of expand the reach of the season-ticket base and play in some great hockey buildings,” Rosen said.
Furness noted that KeyArena only holds about a thousand more unobstructed viewing seats than Comcast Arena in Everett. One cure for the arena situation would be a winning team on the ice.
“If the team is good it’s [KeyArena] absolutely a good-short term solution,” Rosen said.
The Coyotes only have seven players signed for the 2013-14 season, and head coach Dave Tippett may not return next year. However, team captain and one of last year’s leading goal scorers, Shane Doan, will be back. Rosen said the Coyotes have a “very good, young, mobile defense.” The team won 21 games during the strike-shortened season and finished four points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
However, the decision off the ice needs to be made before Seattle fans can concern themselves about the product on the ice. It’s a decision that could come in two weeks.
“I think it’s 50/50,” Rosen said. “I think it happens. If not this year, I think by the 2014-15 season Seattle will definitely have a team.”
You can listen to the full interview here: