Word has been leaking out over the past couple days that the Maloof Brothers are in the process of trying to sell the NBA‘s Sacramento Kings to the Chris Hansen/Steve Ballmer group in Seattle for as much as $525 million, at which point the Kings would be relocated to Seattle in time for the 2013-2014 NBA Season.
While all of the details have yet to be ironed out, one report has suggested that talks are “1st and Goal at the one-yard line,” so the worst-kept secret in the NBA and NHL this past handful of months might finally be close to getting done. So what does this mean for the NHL?
Well, if you are a conspiracy theorist, your ears might perk up at this news because you’ll no doubt recognize that the Greg Jamison/Phoenix Coyotes deal still has yet to be consummated and that the Coyotes, technically, are still in play as relocation candidates. Perhaps that has been the game plan all along.
Could Jamison have gotten involved because he and Gary Bettman suspected this turn of events might take place in Seattle and wanted to do their best to make it seem as though “The NHL did all it could to keep the team in Phoenix”? Maybe it was just a happy coincidence. Either way, it’s hard not to look at all the cloak-and-dagger shenanigans that have been going on with this mess in Phoenix and not be a little suspicious that it has been nothing but a ruse while the NHL waited to see if the folks in Seattle could get this ball rolling.
Now that the new CBA has been agreed to and is expected to be ratified by the players this weekend, and now that we know we are on our way to having NHL hockey to watch again, you cannot help but start looking as well to the somewhat inevitable conclusion that expansion is in the league’s future, but Seattle shouldn’t be involved in that part of the equation.
If the league is smart, they will try and award expansion franchises to Quebec City and Markham (in the greater Toronto area) in the near future so their much talked about realignment plan can include 32 teams instead of 30. Also, they can squeeze far more money out of those areas in expansion fees than they would get from the Seattle area, and with Canadians being as rabid as they are about hockey, they will be willing to continue following an expansion franchise even during their difficult beginnings.
As much as the NHL clearly wants to get into the Seattle market, they know they might be better off relocating an established franchise like Phoenix so they can get off to a positive start in the new market and create a good buzz that will extend beyond the hockey fans who already exist throughout the Northwest.
The NBA looks like it is about to rectify an enormous wrong and give Seattle a team again. So with prospective owners like Don Levin waiting in the wings and considering that bringing the NHL to Seattle has always been the second part of the Hansen/Ballmer group’s plan to make the arena successful, can news of a franchise relocating to Seattle be far off?