The NHL officially grew by one Tuesday as the Emerald City joined the league as its 32nd team, effective for the 2021-22 season. The price tag? A hefty $650 million, 30 percent more than the $500 million Bill Foley paid to bring the Golden Knights into the NHL in 2016.
The Metropolitans or Totems or whatever they’re going to be called (I’m rooting for Totems, the idea of a Let’s Go Mets!” chant in a hockey arena is not what I want to hear) have a tough act to follow and they know it.
The fan base in Washington State has responded in similar fashion to Las Vegas with more than 32,000 deposits for a 17,000-seat building at the once-again refurbished KeyArena. And they’re going to demand the same kind of success the Golden Knights enjoyed in their inaugural season.
Could lightning strike twice? Sure. If Seattle’s Dave Tippett hires the right general manager and the right coach, if the team drafts well in the Expansion Draft and can pull off a few shrewd moves and have a decent amateur draft, yeah, they could have a memorable Year One.
But that’s a lot of if’s.
Frankly, I’m not so sure they can pull it off for a number of reasons.
Let’s start with the rules themselves.
If you recall, the Knights were able to select one player from each of the 30 existing NHL teams. They were also allowed to make side deals where if you didn’t take a certain player from a team, that team would trade you another player and/or a draft pick.
George McPhee skillfully exploited the rules and took a couple of teams to the cleaners, most notably Minnesota and Florida. He got Alex Tuch and Erik Haula from the Wild by agreeing not to take Matt Dumba. He got Reilly Smith from the Panthers along with Jonathan Marchessault.
Ironically, both opposing GMs, Chuck Fletcher in Minnesota and Tom Rowe in Florida, ultimately lost their jobs. (Fletcher resurfaced Monday in Philadelphia as the Flyers’ new GM.)
I’m guessing Fletcher learned his lesson in Minnesota and will be very wary about dealing with Seattle when it comes time for the Flyers to expose their unprotected list. Dale Tallon’s back in charge in Florida and assuming he’s still there two years from now, he’s not going to repeat the mistakes his predecessor made.
And that goes for the other GMs too. You’re not likely to see a lot of side deals made with Seattle. Better to just lose one player and not perpetuate a gaffe.
The exception? GMGM.