Seattle’s NHL team will have a name and arena…eventually, but fans who have been waiting patiently will have to wait a while longer.
NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke told The Seattle Times that both the name unveiling and reopening of Key Arena have been delayed.
“It’s not the right time,” Leiweke said of a name for the NHL’s 32nd franchise. “Vegas did it a year out. We’ve got ample time, and the thing this organization will never be is tone deaf. So, we’ve got to pick the right time, and we’ve got to make sure all of our ducks are in a row.”
Leiweke said there’s a chance the name could be revealed in the fall. He cited expansion team, cited trademarking issues, local protests and the coronavirus pandemic for delays in the grand announcement.
"If you do just one [name], then you've left yourself hostage to any sort of [trademarking] challenge," Leiweke told The Times. "So, we've had to do multiple [trademarks], and that's about where we are."
NHL Seattle had originally targeted an announcement in February or March, however, in a Twitter live in April general manager Ron Francis said he hoped the nickname choice would be made “sooner rather than later.”
13 possible names that the NHL Seattle group registered included Sockeyes, Totems, Emeralds, Rainiers, Renegades, Kraken, Seals, Sea Lions, Evergreens, Firebirds, Cougars, Eagles and Whales.
The pandemic has also led to a delay in the reopening of KeyArena. COVID-19 slowed down construction times, resulting in a slide of a few months in the timeline.
“Any delay is absolutely minimal. Given what we went through the workers have kept building. But there have been issues with supply lines,” Leiweke told the Associated Press. “If it’s not going to be the date we hoped it’s not very long thereafter. And it’s impressive how they’ve actually kept things on schedule. If our target was early summer of 2021 to say we’re going to hit it sometime in the summer is pretty good considering all things."
The NHL usually gets the season rolling around early October each season, but there’s been talk that the pandemic could push the start of the league year back to November or December.
The good news is neither setback should impact the NHL Seattle’s first puck drop in October 2021. However, Seattle’s chances of holding the NHL Draft and the expansion draft the following June are slowly dwindling.
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