Tuesday , October 4 2022

Seattle NHL expansion approval brings moods, tears



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The fans had come to Henry Tavern to watch the NHL Network's attention from the NHL Governors Board meeting in the Island of Georgia. Some arrived as early as 6:15 a.m. PT, before the sun, although the doors did not open until 7:30 p.m. and the press conference was not up to 9.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was now on television screens. He had all his eyes and ears. Many held their phones to record a video of the words that everyone was waiting to hear.

"I am very pleased to announce," Commissioner Bettman said, "this morning, the Board of Governors approved an expansion plan that will bring a National Hockey League Team to Seattle …"

The fans attacked to abolish before Commissioner Bettman finished the sentence.

"My knees started to bounce," said John Barr, who has run NHLtoSeattle.com since 2013 and has worked seamless hours leading to an effort to bring a team here. "Eye gets a bit of anxiety looking at it.

"I mean, it was incredible to see that he really said that, those words. We thought it was an unfortunate conclusion, but at the same time, the moment was unreal."

Video: Seattle is watching as they receive their new NHL team

The fans listened quietly for details and gave attention to some things: a competition with Vancouver Canucks, Seattle as the first US city to win the Stanley Cup, Mayor of Seattle Jenny Durkan, lead owner David Bonderman and NHL Seattle Chief Executive Tod Leiweke.

When Commissioner Bettman explained that Seattle would have the same rules in the NHL 2021 Expanding Draft as the Gold Vegas Warriors had in 2017, someone said, "We want T.J. Oshie! "

Oshie was born in Everett, Washington, who played 10 years at the Seattle Junior Hockey Association before moving to Warroad, Minnesota. With the Washington Capitals last season, he became a second-born player in the Washington state to win the Cup after Wayne Hicks of Aberdeen won with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961.

More may not follow.

NHL Seattle passed hats and buttons that said, "RETURN TO HOCKEY," aim at the history of the city's rich hockey.

Fans were wearing jerseys from the Seattle Pacific Ocean Hockey Association of the Seattle Metropolitans, who defeated the National Hockey Association of Montreal Canadiens in 1917, months before NAD was born. Fans wore jerseys from Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League and jerseys from NHL teams.

"I think this shows the depth of support that this team will have," said Durkan.

Some fans were Seattle's mothers. Some were transplants.

Paul Brownlow, 58, from Seattle and has fallen in hockey love here. He used to go to bed with a transistor radio, listening to television from Seattle Totems from the former professional Western Hockey League, and seeing the Totems defeating the Soviet Union in 1974 under the roof iconic where the NHL Seattle team plays in Seattle Arena & Center.

For around 20 years, he had Thunderbirds season tickets. In recent years and beyond, he has got Canucks partial season tickets. Now he will have NHL Seattle season tickets. His wife, Deirdre, had highlighted the No. 19 priority although 10,000 deposits had been made within 12 minutes of March 1.

"I'm not really excited," said Brownlow, wearing an old Thunderbirds wagon that was being used on the game and hat "RETURN TO HOCKEY". "I can not believe it's happening. I've wanted it for 40 years. I've always dreamed about it."

Paul Buxton, 34, moved to Seattle.

"I'm originally from San Jose," he said. "Other people come from other areas that like hockey. They bring their own traditions, but this is a team that we can all get together as a city."

Wait. Read that again. Think about it. He referred San Jose as a hockey sailing area as unfortunate as if it were a donation. She is now. But was it before San Jose Sharks joined the NHL in 1991?

Here is the right-handed expansion power. Buxton's parents took him a game when he was fourth. He was raised when he saw the head of a shark down from the ears and the players skate it, and came to love the speed and skill of the game.

"It was not important that we did not know anything about the sport, there was not necessarily a tradition in San Jose," he said. "That grew organic, and that's directly the result of the NHL taking us a chance."

Now here he was a Metropolitan hat and shirt on the day that NHL had an opportunity on Seattle. He once worked with Top in Microsoft. Like Barr, he had gone to city council meetings to advocate for the NHL team. He had gone to Vegas's opening home opener, last season, wearing a Metropolitan shirt and had a chat with Commissioner Bettman on the red carpet for Seattle's position.

"Now it's a day to celebrate," he said.

As the fans shared the bar inside, Barr stood outside and tried to control his emotions.

"I mean, I believed in the whole community," he said. "But, um …"

He cheated, shaken and laughed.

"It's just an event that ends," he said. "So before I started crying, I'm going to stop there."

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