Seattle Looks in Line to Get an NHL Franchise, the MLS Team is a Major Success and There’s Talk of Bringing Back NBA Hoops
David Royse | LedeTree
Are the sports clouds that have shrouded Seattle clearing?
It was 100 years ago that the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup. The cheering since has been as sporadic as bright sunny days in the winter time in the Pacific Northwest.
But while not everything is bright, there have been hints that the clouds are lifting a bit out beyond the Cascades. The biggest news is the possibility that NHL ice hockey could return.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced last week that Seattle may go through the process of seeking an expansion team. That followed a decision by the city council there to give the final OK to a deal with business development and arena management company Oak View Group for a $600 million renovation of the city’s KeyArena. The effort to get an NHL team in Seattle is being led by the movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer and billionaire investor David Bonderman.
Bettman was careful to note that the league hasn’t agreed to accept Seattle back into the league – but hockey fans in Seattle are smiling.
“We’ve agreed as a league to take and consider an expansion application and to let them run — at some point in the next few months — a season-ticket drive,” Bettman said.
The history of the Metropolitans is kind of a metaphor for sports in Seattle, a city that ESPN declared the inheritor of Cleveland’s crown for most miserable sports town when the Cavaliers won the NBA championship a couple years ago.
It’s not that teams in Seattle have gone winless – there’s actually been plenty of success. But it’s nearly always been tempered by weird ways of mucking it all up and losing.
Take the Metropolitans – they got back to the Stanley Cup final two more times. In 1919, it was cancelled because of the flu pandemic. In 1920 they lost to Ottawa. Ottawa! They never recovered and the Metropolitans folded in 1924.
The city’s NBA franchise had a similar history. The SuperSonics were NBA champions in 1979. But they never managed to get another one – and in 2008 the team packed up and moved, becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder, which has been pretty good.
A team coming back to Seattle instead of leaving would be welcome.
But it’s not just the prospect of the NHL returning. The decision to renovate KeyArena also has basketball fans remembering the glory days of Jack Sikma’s blond mop. While not overall optimistic about the short-term, Seattle-based sports writer Art Thiel noted last week that an NBA source told him that if and when the NBA does expand again, Seattle, along with Mexico City, is at the top of the list. Others agree.
The other reminder of how good the Seattle sports scene can be came this weekend as the Seattle Sounders returned for a second straight year to the Major League Soccer championship game. (In the fashion of Seattle sports, they lost to Toronto after having won the championship last year.)
But the Sounders have been an unquestionable success both on the field and off in Major League soccer. The team had been MLS’ top drawing team since 2009, and were second in the league this season in attendance, averaging more than 43,000 a game, bested only by the expansion team in Atlanta. The Sounders are the second most valuable team in the league, according to Forbes.
— 710 ESPN Seattle (@710ESPNSeattle) December 9, 2017
Of course the NFL Seahawks have been trying to counter the city’s seasonal affective disorder for a few years now, after a couple of largely futile decades. The team finally won the Super Bowl in 2014, killing the Broncos in a snoozer for everyone outside the Pacific Northwest. But the team managed to again temper that excitement, returning to the Super Bowl the next year where they mounted a final possession drive to the New England one yard line, dominating the line of scrimmage and running all over the Patriots. So, with one yard to go, the Seahawks called a pass play, as you’ll remember, leaving fans dumbfounded and, after a Malcolm Butler interception, the Pats the champions.
Baseball has been similar – the Mariners have had great players like Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Ichiro Suzuki and have a cool stadium – but they’ve never been able to win the World Series, even in a year in which they tied the best record ever. And just this past week, the Mariners lost out on a chance to sign Japanese super-prospect Shohei Otani, who chose to sign to play in sunny Anaheim instead.
But hockey! Focus on the positive, Seattle.
Let’s focus on the positive Seattle!
The NHL will most likely be here soon, but what do YOU want the team to be called? Do you want the old name of the Mets or something new? Reply with the team name you like most. https://t.co/WnmJbD3VG3
— 710 ESPN Seattle (@710ESPNSeattle) December 8, 2017