The push to bring professional hockey to Seattle is still underway, and we could soon have a better idea of whether the NHL will land in the Emerald City anytime soon.
Tod Leiweke, CEO and president of the prospective NHL expansion franchise, shared a few updates during a Seattle radio interview on Tuesday and is circling Oct. 2 as an important date in the process.
“We are not taking anything for granted. It would be an incredible honour to be the 32nd franchise, so we’re going to be prepared for that day and that test,” Leiweke told hosts Dave Mahler and Dick Fain of his upcoming league meeting.
“We are right now building a spectacular presentation that we’ve been working on for weeks,” he continued, also explaining that prospective owners David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer will be part of this fall’s presentation. “I’ve never prepared like this for a presentation or meeting, and I’ve had a few in my career. This is an important moment because we owe it to the city to do our best.”
Leiweke was named president in April, joining the bid his brother Tim Leiweke (CEO of The Oak View Group) officially submitted along with Bonderman and Bruckheimer two months prior with the intention of icing the league’s 32nd team to start the 2020-21 season.
The group’s bid, which includes the financing of a $660-million renovation of KeyArena, has seen strong support from Seattle sports fans — the group collected more than 30,000 deposits for season tickets, and needed to open a waitlist for others.
Back in May, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there was still “a lot of due diligence” yet to be done but indicated that a meeting between the prospective NHL group and the league could be a possibility in the fall.
“There are a number of bases we have to touch, a lot of due diligence that has to be done, a lot of interaction with the prospective ownership group, David Bonderman’s group, and so we think we’re on target,” Bettman said during his annual state of the league address. “Depending on how everything goes, it wouldn’t surprise me that there is a possibility that in the fall, early winter at the latest, that this could be addressed by the board.”
Should their bid be approved, the Seattle TBDs may not need to look far in their head coaching search. Longtime coach Dave Tippett was hired as Seattle’s senior advisor back in June, a role that has him involved in overseeing all areas of the team. The idea that he could assume head coaching duties isn’t a new one — the Seattle Times‘ Geoff Baker reported as much at the time of the hiring — and Leiweke confirmed on Tuesday that he hasn’t been ruled out.
Tippett, 57, sat out the 2017-18 campaign after spending eight years coaching the Arizona Coyotes. He has a total of 14 seasons of head coaching experience, having also spent six seasons behind the bench of the Dallas Stars from 2002 to 2009.