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Seattle has been unanimously approved by the NHL's board of governors in Sea Island, Georgia, to start the 2021-22 season as the league's 32nd team.

More than 30,000 fans have paid a deposit on season tickets. The franchise will play at redeveloped KeyArena, which will cost $700 million.

The expansion fee cost of the franchise is $650 million, $150 million more than the Vegas Golden Knights paid to join the NHL last season.

"Today is an exciting and historic day for our League as we expand to one of North America's most innovative, beautiful and fastest-growing cities," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"We are delighted to add David Bonderman, Tod Leiweke and the entire NHL Seattle group to the National Hockey League family. And we are thrilled that Seattle, a city with a proud hockey history that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup, is finally joining the NHL."

Things to know about Seattle's entry:

The nickname: Unsettled. reported this year that a lawyer representing Oak View Group, the expansion applicant, registered 38 domains involving these names: Seattle Cougars, Seattle Eagles, Seattle Emeralds, Seattle Evergreens, Seattle Firebirds, Seattle Kraken, Seattle Rainiers, Seattle Renegades, Seattle Sea Lions, Seattle Seals, Seattle Sockeyes, Seattle Totems and Seattle Whalers.

The general manager: Former Coyotes coach Dave Tippett has been advising the ownership group, but it doesn't appear he will be the GM.

If the Seattle team follows the Golden Knights' script, which included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, it will hire a veteran GM similar to George McPhee. That opens the door for Dean Lombardi, Ron Hextall, Ron Francis, Don Maloney and Garth Snow, among others.

If Seattle wants a fresh face, Blue Jackets assistant GM Bill Zito, who recently interviewed with the Flyers, could be a choice. Golden Knights assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon could get a look. The Hurricanes considered Zito, Kings assistant GM Mike Futa and Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin last summer. Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin was interviewed in Buffalo when Jason Botterill was hired. Chris Pronger is an adviser with the Panthers. Former NHL goalie Sean Burke is also mentioned as a future NHL executive.

Realignment: The NHL hasn't settled on anything, but there has been considerable speculation that Seattle would slot into the Pacific Division and the Coyotes would move into the Central. Although having Arizona away from Vegas and the California teams isn't ideal, the solution causes the least amount of hardship. Each conference would have 16 teams and each division would have eight teams.

Player distribution: The NHL is going to follow the same expansion draft rules that allowed the Golden Knights to put together a contending team.

Seattle will be able to select one player from every team except Vegas. The 30 teams can protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie or eight skaters total and one goalie. It's impossible to know what protected lists will look like.

McPhee's success was aided by GMs' decisions to give up draft picks and prospects to save specific players.

Why Seattle is desirable: According to Station Index, Seattle is the USA's 14th largest TV market, and it's the largest city without a winter sport. The NHL will not be competing against the NBA. The Seattle TV market is larger than markets in Minnesota, Colorado, St. Louis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Carolina, Vegas and Buffalo.

Seattle and Vancouver should be natural rivals. They are 21/2 hours apart by car. Seattle has plenty of hockey history. The Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917 and were in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1919 when the championship series was canceled because of a flu outbreak.

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December 5, 2018


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