The Seattle Kraken Signed Some Free Agents

Things are really rounding into shape!

The two drafts – particularly the expansion draft – gave us some insight into what to expect from the Kraken, both in the inaugural season, and as an organizational philosophy going forward: defense and toughness, versatility and flexibility. But, if there were two concerns heading into free agency, it was the lack of proven stars, and wondering where the scoring would come from. I mean, defense is great, but you have to actually score goals to win, right?

Well, with around $30 million to play with, the Kraken got to work settling our concerns by signing three guys who are varying degrees of proven stars, two of which appear to be among our strongest goal-scorers on the team.

Philipp Grubauer is the big “get” for us, a goalie who recently played for Colorado. This was a bit of a surprise, as we’d taken three goalies in the expansion draft, and Chris Driedger signed a 3-year contract to give the appearance of being our primary net man. It seemed like the Kraken were all too happy to go on the cheap with a potential up-and-comer, especially with the strong defensive squad giving him all the help he’d need.

But, Grubauer is legit. He was a Vezina Trophy finalist last year, leading the league in shutouts. He’ll be 30 years old in November, so his six year deal should encompass the vast majority of his prime. Colorado was the best regular season team in the NHL last year, and Grubauer was a big reason why; I love this deal!

That obviously led to an opportunity to trade from our glut of goalies, so we sent Washington Vitek Vanecek – the player we’d taken from them originally in the expansion draft – for a 2023 second round draft pick. Brilliant! I mean, it’s 2023, and that player could wind up being a nobody, but how cool is that? This is the type of deal I think a lot of us expected the Kraken to be making originally (prior to this year’s draft), but I think I prefer having this type of stockpile saved for the future.

Jaden Schwartz is a forward out of St. Louis that we signed to a 5-year deal. He was instrumental in their Stanley Cup run of 2019, and having just turned 29 years old, is also right there in his prime. He’s scored 154 goals in 10 seasons in the league, giving us some punch in the lineup and some veteran savvy. I’m expecting to see quite a bit out of him in the early going.

Finally, we brought in Alex Wennberg on a 3-year deal. He played most of his career in Columbus, but had 17 goals with Florida last year. He’s only 27 years old, and is a center, so there’s room for him to grow and blossom. But, his contract is reasonable, and it seems like he’d fit in nicely with the group of guys we have here so far. We’re veteran where it counts – Schwartz, Giordano, Grubauer, Gourde, Tanev, Eberle, Larsson – but a lot of our guys are kind of fringey who have some experience, but haven’t realized their full potential just yet. If enough of those guys take the next steps in their development, that could set us up for immediate success.

At the very least, after the first season, we should have a good idea of where to attack free agency in year two. But, so far, I’m really happy with the direction Ron Francis is taking this team.

Was The Seattle Kraken Entry Draft Underwhelming As Well?

Boy, I hope not!

With the Kraken selecting second overall (and third in every subsequent round), you’d like to think we’d nab at least one quality player among the seven, but you never know.

Matty Beniers, a center from the University of Michigan, was the big prize for the Kraken. Owen Power – also from Michigan – was the consensus #1 overall player, and he indeed went to Buffalo with the first pick. Beniers eventually became the near-consensus #2 pick, and the Kraken didn’t fuck around. He’s an 18 year old center with one year of college experience (according to Wikipedia, he was slated to go to Harvard before the Ivy League cancelled their season due to COVID), but has shined throughout his amateur career. He’s been touted as one of the most NHL-ready players in this draft, which you can take a couple of ways. He could be the “safe” pick that might not eclipse expectations compared to some higher-upside prospects (but at least we know we SHOULD have a good all-around player), or he could continue his trajectory as one of the best hockey players in the world and really put it all together in the next few years. Either way, there isn’t a lot of downside in taking Beniers.

Ryker Evans went to us in the second round; he’ll be 20 in December. He’s a defenseman who’s considered to be quite a reach as a second rounder. He’s got a lot of experience in the minor leagues, so obviously there’s something in him the scouting department likes. It’ll be disappointing if he doesn’t pan out in the next few years.

Ryan Winterton was taken in the third round. He’s a center who some projected as possibly going higher, which is nice I guess. Overall, he’s seen as more of a depth piece, but that’s not nothing.

Ville Ottavainen is a defenseman out of Finland who was selected in the fourth round. This could be a find for the Kraken, as we’re particularly well set up in our Scandinavian scouting department.

Jacob Melanson is a right winger taken in the fifth round. Apparently anyone drafted below the third or fourth rounds are lottery picks more than anything. I nevertheless find it interesting the Kraken took Semyon Vyazovoi from Russia in the sixth round. Anytime your team drafts a goalie – even in the later rounds – he’s going to be someone to watch. Finally, the Kraken drafted Justin Janicke in the seventh round; he just turned 18 years old and is a left winger.

From what I’m reading, there’s nothing that blows you away with this draft by the Kraken. They didn’t try to get too cute by picking someone else over Beniers; that selection was so easy a caveman could’ve made it. Where we’ll ultimately judge the organization’s scouting department – as well as GM Ron Francis – is how well the players in rounds 2-7 pan out. Just like the drafts in every other sport, we won’t have a great idea about how well they did for another 4-5 years. So, I’ll see you in 4-5 years, when I’m better able to have an actual opinion on matters.

Was The Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Underwhelming?

I guess we’ll see! Obviously nobody has any idea what the future holds. We could look back on this day and wonder what the hell these incompetents were thinking, or we could look back on this day WITH wonder at the start of a great hockey dynasty. Or, you know, any outcome in between.

What I’m getting at the moment – just a couple days removed from the big NHL Expansion Draft, where the Kraken selected an unprotected player from every other NHL team, save Las Vegas – is that there isn’t this sense that Seattle is an immediate juggernaut like the Golden Knights were in their first season. Sure, the Kraken grabbed some good players, but for the most part they left plenty of quality guys on the table.

So, what was the plan? It appears the Kraken focused first and foremost on salary cap flexibility. That means not selecting a lot of huge stars and trying to build some sort of fantasy team on day one. That means not taking on a lot of bloated contracts from past-their-prime players, so there isn’t a lot of dead money hanging over us. I get the sense Vegas did that in their expansion draft, and acquired a lot more draft picks for the amateur draft in the process.

Indeed, the only trade I’m aware of is Tyler Pitlick, who we selected from Arizona, and traded to Calgary for a 4th round pick. But, even he only had a $1.75 million cap hit. That, nevertheless, leaves the Kraken with over $30 million in remaining cap space. This likely means the Kraken will have some higher profile moves up their sleeves in the coming weeks. And, it should start the franchise off on the right foot going forward when it comes to their salary cap and flexibility in tweaking the roster.

It was also noted that there weren’t nearly as many opportunities for steals in the expansion draft. When Vegas had theirs, they took advantage of teams and GMs who had no idea what they were doing. It seems those people have either been replaced in the interim, or have gotten a lot smarter, because they weren’t willing to be fleeced this time around. I think the NHL world at large was pretty appalled at how amazing the Golden Knights were from the get-go, and they did everything in their power to not let that happen again.

The Kraken also appear to be building on the strength of their defense, as most of their best players and biggest stars are either great two-way players, or are just better on defense. I don’t know if it’ll make for the most exciting, high-flying brand of hockey, but at least it’s a plan. At least it’s an identity. And, given the general vibe of sports fans in the Pacific Northwest, I’d say it’s fitting. We love us some defense around these parts! Even those great Supersonics teams of the 90’s under George Karl featured swarming and suffocating trap defenses. On top of that, the Kraken seem to be focused on bruisers. Tough guys. Setting a hard-ass tone on the ice. If we’re not going to be great, we should at least be able to whoop some ass and leave teams feeling it afterward. Northwest fans also love aggressively tough teams, so again, it fits the vibe.

And, even though I talk about the stars they got, the Kraken definitely avoided bringing in too many huge names, at least so far. Mark Giordano is the biggest name of the bunch, but he’s been in the league 15 years and will be 38 years old when the season gets underway. He’s our unquestioned leader and captain, but he’s also on the final year of his contract.

Two of the other bigger names we brought in are Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson, who are both defensemen. These are guys you’ll want to learn about, as they figure to be prominent players this season.

Other guys, in no particular order, who should see a lot of time (assuming they don’t get traded) are Joonas Donskoi (forward), Calle Jarnkrok (forward), Jordan Eberle (right wing), Brandon Tanev (left wing), Vince Dunn (defense), Yanni Gourde (center), and Jared McCann (forward). I would also throw in players like Haydn Fleury (defense), Colin Blackwell (center), and Mason Appleton (forward) who could improve a great deal with opportunities to play and compete for spots.

Just about all of the guys the Kraken took are younger, less experienced players, with room to grow. The sky is the limit, really. I don’t know if there’s a ton of upside, necessarily – especially when it comes to the 2021/2022 season in particular – but I like this strategy over more established veterans who might have injury issues, or might not be as hungry because they’ve already earned the bulk of their career money. We might not be great now, but we’ve given ourselves plenty of opportunity to find some diamonds in the rough. Like this current Mariners rebuild, we can use this season to figure out where we’re good, and where we need to fill in the cracks. If things break right, we might not see the Kraken in the playoffs in year one, but they could be a force in the next 2-4 years.

Whether or not the Kraken follow in the footsteps of the Golden Knights has a lot to do with the goalie situation. We didn’t grab Carey Price from Montreal, who is an established stud (but also maybe more of an injury risk), but we stuck with our plan of going for inexperienced guys with undetermined upside. Chris Driedger was a backup in Florida, who looks like he’ll get a shot to start here. You never know how well these guys will play until they get in front of the net every day, but it sounds like he was effective in his limited duty as a backup, so I have high hopes. Even if he’s not as good as Price might’ve been in year one, if he’s 90% as effective or better, I think that’s a steal, given the salary savings.

Vitek Vanecek figures to be our backup goalie, who is more of a prototypical backup (in that he should be fine in spot duty), with Joey Daccord more of a developmental project. Since the Kraken have built around the strength of their defensemen, that should provide an additional boost to the goalies, and if one of them proves to be better than advertised, you never know! Worse teams have succeeded based on the strength of keeping scoring down to a minimum (I’m assuming; I’m really talking out of my ass on all of this here).

Also, shoutout to Alexander True, who used to play for the Seattle Thunderbirds back in the day. I have no idea if he’s any good or not, but he’s young and returning to where he had some minor league success, so I think that’s fun.

I obviously didn’t list off everyone the Kraken drafted, so there’s a good chance I missed someone who might be solid. But, I’m just trying to do SOME due diligence when it comes to learning about the NHL.

Which is more than I can say for the Seattle fucking Times. I bought the newspaper on Thursday, thinking I’d get some quality analysis on the players we got. There was one article on the front page that took a global view of everything; it had at least some stuff on the bigger names. But, on the actual Sports Page, there were two articles: one about the fans in attendance at the live draft event at Gasworks Park, and one about the local sports celebrities in attendance at the live draft event at Gasworks Park (none of which actually play the fucking game of hockey). In an insert, the Times had a list of the players, with no analysis whatsoever. What a fucking joke.

You have a responsibility, Seattle Times, to educate fans on this team and this game. Stop feeding us puff pieces and give us information we can chew on!

Things Are Happening In Kraken Land

The Seattle Kraken did okay in the NHL Draft lottery a while back, landing the #2 overall pick. They apparently had the third-best odds to get the top spot, so that’s a slight improvement, but I still contend we should’ve just been handed the top pick. We’re a brand new team! We paid however many millions of dollars to join the league, just give us the top player in the draft!

I understand Vegas had the same odds – and actually had to draft 6th in their first-ever NHL Draft – but that’s also bullshit. They too should’ve been handed the top overall pick. The Buffalo Sabres – who were the worst team last season – ended up with the top pick; I’m told they’re projected to still be in worse shape than the Kraken – who will, at least, have the advantage of the expansion draft – but I don’t care. I’m greedy.

Anyway, Owen Power is projected to be the first player selected, so the Kraken should have their pick of everyone else. I don’t know enough to say for certain if it’s just a college draft, or if there are international/independent players who can be selected, but I look forward to learning everything there is to learn as this thing progresses.

The NHL Draft takes place July 23-24. We will pick 3rd in every round after the first (there are seven rounds total).

The Expansion Draft takes place on July 21st. So, that’ll be a pretty huge week!

I read in the Seattle Times this week that prior to the 21st, the Kraken can offer free agents up to 8-year deals (in the NHL, deals max out at 8 years only if you are re-signing your own guys, otherwise deals max out at 7 years), so there might be a big name or two headed our way before any of this takes place.

The next thing to look out for – vis a vis the expansion draft – is that teams can trade their regular draft picks to us in lieu of us selecting one of their unprotected players. So, odds are the Kraken will have a lot more than the 7 picks we’re guaranteed in the regular draft (including multiple first rounders). As a comparison, the Golden Knights – in 2017 – selected 3 players in the first round, 2 players in the second, fifth, and sixth rounds, and 1 player in the third, fourth, and seventh rounds (a total of 12 draft picks).

So, this is all very exciting! The NHL playoffs are currently in full swing, so obviously that all has to play out before we get to anything noteworthy. Once we get into July though, watch out!

Seattle Is Kraken Up!

I love the name of Seattle’s new NHL team! I love any team name that doesn’t end in ‘s’, I love how fucking weird it is, and I love that it’s inspiring really strong reactions one way or another. You either love it or hate it, and I’m FOR THAT!

Is it dumb? You betcha! But, it’s also cool as fuck, and I won’t hear otherwise!

I’m also a big fan of the color scheme. Dark blue and light blue – TWO BLUES! – with just a little bit of red (and, presumably white for the road uniforms). No green, which I’m fine with, since we have the Sounders and those insufferable alternate jerseys for the Seahawks and Mariners.

I didn’t love the Sockeyes. I didn’t want the Emeralds or Evergreens. Seals and sea lions and some of the other animals indigenous to the Pacific Northwest are just, I dunno, boring? Lame? We already have the Seahawks, so I didn’t want another bird name. I honestly did like the name Totems because I thought it sounded cool to say, but come on, what kind of mascot is that? Some top-heavy, awkward piece of Native American artwork lumbering around on the ice? Plus, again the Seahawks’ logo features a bird that’s generally found on many totem poles.

Seattle professional sports teams have weird, unique names/mascots. The Supersonics? What’s that? The Seahawks? Mariners are just drunken men of the sea. And, let us not forget our beloved XFL Dragons! Why wouldn’t the Kraken fit right in?

I’m so happy I could burst! In my old age – pushing past the 40-year old barrier in less than eight months – I was resigned to the fact that I would be annoyed by whatever the franchise chose. I never in my wildest dreams thought they would ACTUALLY go with the Kraken! I thought, “Oh, there’s a funny name to get some people worked up, before they ultimately choose something safe and ordinary.” But, how wrong I was!

Let the rest of the NHL world laugh at us and mock us! They won’t be laughing when we’re hoisting the first of many multiple Stanley Cup Trophies! At least one for every tentacle within the first decade of existence. That’s not too unreasonable!

Is Ron Francis A Good GM?

I don’t know much about hockey, but I’m willing to learn. So, I’ll try to trickle in some posts related to the new Seattle team (still without a name). As such, here’s a little blurb about the Seattle Hockey Guys hiring Ron Francis to be their first general manager.

He’s an NHL Hall of Famer and sounds like one of the greatest of all time. That’s awesome. But, does being an elite player qualify you for the GM job?

He was the GM at Carolina from 2014-2018. At that time, they were coming off of five straight seasons outside of the playoffs, finishing 13th in the conference the year before he started. In his four seasons, the Hurricanes never made the playoffs, with mediocre finishes each year. He was fired in 2018, immediately before they finished 7th in the conference and making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals (getting swept by the Bruins) this past season.

So, obviously I have a lot of questions. First and foremost, how easy is it for teams to turn things around from being dreadful to decent? It sure seems like this most recent Hurricanes team was built by and large by Francis (at least the top three position players by points were holdovers). But, the goaltending looks like it was a total revamp, with a couple of journeymen veterans coming in and playing the lion’s share of the games. Which leads me to the question: how important is goaltending to winning? Like, if you divided up the pie, is it 50/50? Is it more than half? Is goaltending everything?

What I don’t really know, but hope to find out thanks to the hard work of others, is how well did he draft? Does he have a solid plan for team building? Did he set up the Hurricanes to be successful for years to come? Or, did a mediocre team come together thanks to improved goaltending? I mean, I’d be happy to look into it, but I’m getting ready to go on a 5-week road trip at the end of the month, so I don’t have a lot of free time to dig into it.

I guess my biggest question is: how much of it is a total crapshoot? In baseball, it feels like the biggest crapshoot of all the major professional sports. Basketball feels like it’s pretty predictable for the most part (who’s going to be good coming out of the draft, vs. who’s just going to be a role player). The NFL is somewhere in the middle. So, where is the NHL?

We’ll find out, soon enough.

Seattle Officially Has An Expansion Hockey Franchise

On December 4th, 2018, the NHL voted unanimously to give Seattle the league’s 32nd franchise.  In the fall of 2021, we will officially have professional hockey in this city.

Shovels are going into the ground soon (if they haven’t already), and the former Key Arena will be renovated over the next few years.  The idea behind 2021 – as opposed to the 2020 that was floated out there previously – is to ensure we’re ready to host a game from the first day of the season.  If we’d settled on 2020, there’s a very good chance delays in construction would’ve forced this team into a bad situation (where maybe they’d have to open on the road for the first month or more).  When you think about all the pitfalls there would be had we tried to rush this thing, I mean, the options are staggering!  I could envision lighting not working, the ice not being cold enough, consessions being fucked up, and on and on and on.  This way, we know everything is going to be functioning and humming like a bird.

I don’t have a lot to add that I haven’t already said before.  This is obviously tremendous news.  Seattle NEEDS a winter sport that’s more than just Husky Basketball.  No, it’s not the Supersonics – and believe me, they’d be my #1 preferred option by a longshot – but it gets our foot in the door.  It gets this arena project started FINALLY, and when it’s completed, we’ll be able to sit here and point to the NBA, “Look!  We did it!  Now give us our team back!”

Whether the NBA will listen or not is another matter, but that’s not really the point.

Plus, I like hockey.  It’s not my favorite sport; I’m not a superfan or anything.  My brother is more of a hockey fan than I’ll probably ever be, and I’ve watched games with him on TV every so often.  Without a dog in the fight, it just hasn’t captured me.  I’m similar with baseball; I would never watch the sport if I didn’t have a team in Seattle.  Frankly, I’m the same with basketball (though I wasn’t always; I used to LOVE watching non-Sonics games until they stole our team from us).  I’m excited to get into it.  I want to jump in on the ground floor with whatever this team is going to be called.  I want to write about it regularly and learn all the intricacies of the sport through the eyes of an expansion franchise.  As if I didn’t obsess about sports enough, here’s a whole new one!

And here’s the other thing.  Yeah, it’s at Seattle Center, and not at the SoDo spot – which is unquestionably a better location for a new arena – but at this point what do I care?  I don’t live in South Lake Union anymore, so I don’t have to deal with the nonsense of extra traffic and parking hassles.  I can WALK there from my office anytime I want!  You could put this thing in the Space Needle for all I care, as long as it gets built and I get to have some real, actual hope for the NBA returning someday.

Seattle Bought A Bazillion Season Ticket Pre-Orders For Professional Hockey

This is really happening, you guys!

Yesterday, pre-order season tickets officially went on sale for a hypothetical future hockey team in Seattle.  This is standard, apparently, when cities are trying to bring in expansion franchises.  Las Vegas, the last city to enter the NHL, got 10,000 people to pre-order season tickets.  As arenas generally hold around 20,000 people or so, this sounded pretty impressive.  It’s less impressive when you find out it took them well over  a month to get to that 10,000 total.

Less impressive, you see, because it took Seattle approximately 12 minutes to reach that number.  In the first day alone, they apparently got upwards of three times that amount.

So, yeah, I guess Seattle is a hockey town.  Who knew?  More importantly, this all but guarantees Seattle will have the NHL by 2020.  Two little, short years away.

WINTER SPORTS ARE BACK, BABY!!!

I find this tremendously exciting.  I need winter sports back in my life.  More importantly, my blog needs winter sports!  With football season coming to an unceremonious end in early January, there was only so much Seahawks fallout I could write about.  And, with the Mariners suspiciously quiet on the free agent/trade fronts this winter, there’s only so much Husky basketball I can write about, especially when I miss at least half the games because the Pac-12 plays them so late.  My blog work trickled off the last week in January, and was pathetic the entire month of February (7 total posts!).  Sure, March has Spring Training, but this Mariners team makes me sick, so I don’t figure to start writing about baseball until the games start.

That’s a solid 2-month black hole!  A black hole that should feature professional hockey in the very near future.

I didn’t purchase any season tickets, because there’s just no way that would work for me.  While I hope to live closer to Seattle in 2020 (or thereabouts), my work schedule is still pretty prohibitivie when it comes to attending night games during the week.  If I lived in the neighborhood still, it might be another matter (but, again, that neighborhood is South Lake Union, and I’m not a millionaire, so I can’t really afford to live there AND pay for a season’s worth of home games).  Besides, I’m not really an uber hockey fan.  I don’t really know all the ins and outs, and I feel like it would behoove me to watch on TV, with announcers who are sympathetic to the fair-weather Seattle hockey fan such as myself.  I mean, let’s face it, on my list of favorite sports teams, this hockey club will be at a significant disadvantage, behind Husky football, Husky basketball, the Seahawks, the Sonics (whenever they return) and the Mariners.

Though, to be fair, it probably won’t take much for Seattle Hockey to surpass the M’s in my fandom.  Making the playoffs literally one time will probably do it.

If this was the return of the Sonics, I might be singing a different tune.  I could see myself shifting my life around to make NBA basketball work (or, at the very least, buying a significant package of season tickets, if not all 41 games), but I feel like my hockey attendance will be occasional.  Friday/Saturday games, maybe once or twice a month at the most.

Also, not for nothing, but if someone like my brother wanted to go in on season tickets, I’d probably be more inclined that way.  But, his swing shift work schedule is even wackier than mine right now.  Plus, he lives in South Tacoma, which would make it an even longer trip.

But, that’s not important.  What’s important is that Seattle didn’t need me to get this thing to work.  There are plenty of crazy hockey fans here to show the world we deserve this franchise.  The owners are in place (which is more than we can say for the Sonics), the building is in the works, and the league wants us (which is more than we can say for the NBA).  It would be nearly impossible to fuck this up.

Why did that feel like “famous last words”?  If there’s a way to fuck up a sure thing, Seattle could unquestionably find it.

A New Arena And The NHL Are On The Way

There’s been a lot of news in this area lately.  For starters, the MOU for the SoDo Arena has expired.  What a shame.  We had so much hope for that arena, that location, and the impending move of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, and piece by piece that dream was destroyed.

There were ultimately a lot of forces at play preventing the SoDo Arena from ever coming to fruition, but if I’m being honest, as much as I want to rail against the NBA, the shady Sacramento city government, the do-nothing Seattle City Council, the Port, the Mariners, and everyone else who fought tooth and nail to torpedo Chris Hansen’s plan, I would argue that just as much blame falls on Chris Hansen’s shoulders.

Not because he wasn’t a better politician, not because he donated money against the Sacramento arena plan (drawing the NBA’s ire), and not because he couldn’t attract enough local money (particularly when Steve Ballmer dropped out to buy the Clippers).  I blame Chris Hansen because, as crazy as this sounds, he never went far enough.  He never went above and beyond.  He kept trying to pinch pennies when – if he really wanted to get the job done – he should’ve over-paid.

I sound like an asshole for saying that, and I get it:  Chris Hansen is a saint.  He tried to almost single-handedly bring the NBA back to Seattle!  Not because he could make a buck on it, but out of the goodness of his heart.  He was not only going to pay for the arena himself, but he was going to plow a bunch of millions of dollars into improving the city around him, with the Lander overpass and the money earmarked to improving Seattle Center.  Hell, he even cobbled together a last-ditch plan to renovate Key Arena while at the same time building his SoDo Arena!

But, that’s just it.  It seems like it was ALL last ditch efforts.  His initial plan wasn’t to make the SoDo Arena 100% privately funded; that only came about when he was met with push-back and the probability of the city going in another direction with the Oak View Group.  Initially, Hansen was asking for tax breaks or whatever.  Then, when the Kings were up for auction, he put up his bid – which was ultimately met by the bid of the current owners – and the NBA sided with the group looking to keep the team in Sacramento.  It wasn’t until after the NBA made its decision did Hansen opt to tack on an extra $100 or $150 million.  Had he gone above and beyond from his opening bid – essentially making the Maloof brothers an offer they couldn’t refuse, and that couldn’t be met by any other gaggle of billionaires – we would have the Sonics back in Seattle right now.

Ultimately, Chris Hansen was willing to do the most and pay the most; he would always have the final word that went above and beyond what anyone else was willing to offer.  But, it was always too late.  It was always after agreements had been made by other parties.  Had he come correct, from the get-go, things would be very different right now.

It might be smart business – don’t start out with your final offer, have some bullets left in the chamber that you can offer to sweeten the deal – but that’s assuming you’re dealing with other businessmen, and not politicians.  If you’re dealing with businessmen, then yeah, of course they’ll accept the very best deal.  Why wouldn’t they?  With politicians, they’ve got other interests they have to take into consideration.  It’s not right; it’s not necessarily the way I would prefer the world works, but that’s life.

So, instead of having the NBA back and a sweet arena right next door to Safeco Field, we’re getting a renovated Seattle Center arena and the NHL.

If I had my druthers, I’d have the Sodo Arena over the Seattle Center arena, but I feel less strongly about it than I once did.  Most of that has to do with the fact that I no longer live in South Lake Union, only a mile from Key Arena.  So, you know, I don’t have to deal with the bullshit traffic anymore.  And, if I’m being honest, it’s not like I’m going to attend all that many games in person.  I go to less than 10 Mariners games a year, and most of the time those are just excuses to socialize with my friends.  If you go to a sporting event in an arena, you’re pretty much there just to watch the game.  If you’re at Safeco, you can wander around, hang out in the beer garden, chit chat with your friends at your seats; it’s much more casual.  If I go to a hockey game at Seattle Center, I’ll probably just walk from my work on a Friday, or catch a bus or a Lyft or something.  I CERTAINLY won’t drive, or look to park there, because that would be insane.

Parking and traffic aside, whatever man, I don’t care.  Just build the fucking thing and get me a fucking professional winter sport.

As such, a new MOU was signed this month.  And, the NHL has already set in motion a process that should one day put a team in Seattle.

October 2020 is the estimated completion date.  But, considering they have to dig down to open the thing up – because the stupid roof is a historical landmark for some reason – I highly doubt this thing is going to finish on time.  Nevertheless, here we go!  The next few years should be fun!

Assuming, of course, the whole thing doesn’t get derailed by lawsuits, or the politicians getting cold feet.  Have I told you how much I hate this city?  Seattle sucks SO HARD.

I will say this, though:  I’m looking forward to professional hockey.  I’m not the biggest hockey fan in the world right now, but my brother is, and I’ve socked back a few beers and watched some games with him on TV, so I kinda sorta get the gist.  Assuming everything works out, and Seattle gets a team, you better believe I’m getting in on the ground floor!  I plan on familiarizing myself with the ins and outs and whathaveyous:  the rules, the history of the game, all of it.  I am BUYING in, big time!  And not just because I need more sports to write about on my blog between the end of football season and the start of baseball season.

I like hockey!  I don’t love it; as I said, I’m not a super fan or anything.  But, I feel like that’s because I’ve never had a team.  The closest team to me is in Vancouver BC, but that might as well be in Timbuktu.  When the shit do I ever go to Canada?  I’m pretty sure the last two times I’ve been to Vancouver, it was for Pearl Jam concerts.  It’s a pain in the ass just getting to Seattle, or Lynnwood, or God-foresaken Mill Creek; the rest of that stretch, up through Bellingham and on into Canada is the slog of all slogs.

And considering it’s not like the Canucks are featured on local television, I’d have to wait to see them on Hockey Night In Canada.

With a team in Seattle, with the games on Root Sports or whatever, being able to watch them on a regular basis, I feel like I could really get into the sport.  And, if they ever get good enough, who knows?  Maybe I’ll like them just as much as I did the Sonics!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still hoping we get the NBA back someday, but hockey is more than a good-enough substitute.

It’s Looking Like Key Arena Or Bust

It’s been pretty quiet on the Seattle arena front ever since the City Council denied the street vacation.  Since then, Chris Hansen has taken another stab at trying to get things to go his way by making his arena deal fully privately financed.  Again, seems like a deal he could’ve brought to the table initially to get this thing going – just like he could’ve offered above-and-beyond what the Kings were worth, when they were on the open market, to force everyone’s hand in backing down – but I guess I sort of understand.  You hold some concessions back in the event your opponent asks for a little more, so they can feel like they got one over on you.  But, again, feels like it’s too little, too late for Hansen.

The city has opted to go another direction; they want a renovated Key Arena.  It’s a city asset, and they want to maximize its potential financially, so you can see where they’re coming from.  Is it good for the local sports fans?  Absolutely not.  Is it good for the neighborhood – already maxed to a breaking point with residents and traffic congestion?  Absolutely not.  Is it even good for the city?  That remains to be seen.  But, the city went and solicited plans to renovate the Key, and they’ve sided with the Oak View Group.

OVG is saying all the right things, of course.  They’re going to build a world-class arena.  It’ll be top notch as far as acoustics are concerned, which is a good thing, because the Key is severely lacking at the moment.  They’re also going to make it work with the current roof – being protected as a historical landmark or some damn thing – by digging down into the Earth to retrofit it for the NBA and NHL.  And, good news!  They’ve already got a potential ownership group ready and willing to bring the NHL to Seattle.

This is absolutely critical to the whole thing; of course, I’ll believe it when I see it.  OVG is supposedly building this thing to be a concert venue first and foremost; that’s how they can justify starting with construction without an anchor tennant attached.  This thing will apparently be financially viable even if there’s no NBA or NHL team.  That scares me a little bit.  Because where is their motivation?  Is OVG going to be part-owners of any team we bring in?  I’m not totally sure I know all the ins and outs of this thing, because I know the city gets a slice, and the prospective team ownership group gets a slice, and now OVG gets a slice; how many ways can you slice this thing to where it’s profitable for all parties involved?

The only thing that matters to me is getting the ol’ foot in the door.  Let’s get a winter sport attached to this thing and go from there.

If I had my choice, if it were all up to my decision, obviously I’d do away with this Key Arena nonsense, approve the SoDo plan (and its fucking street vacation), and work things out so if the NHL has to be first, then so be it.  With SoDo, there’s no wait; with the Key, I believe they won’t be able to start construction until 2019 or 2020.  With SoDo, we’ll be able to build the type of palace that the leagues can be proud of; with the Key, it’s still going to be one of the smallest buildings in either league, and it’ll likely be out-dated as soon as it opens.  What happens when we have to renovate the Key yet again in another decade, to put in more suites or seats or a bigger jumbotron or whathaveyou?  On top of that, the SoDo area can handle the traffic; the new Key will absolutely cripple South Lake Union on gamedays.  In SoDo, you’ll be able to take a bevy of public transportation options; in SoDo, you can actually park if you want to drive.  At the Key, you can really do neither.  There are bus lines, but no light rail.  The Monorail is a stupid joke that the Seattle Times is trying to pass off as viable (even though, DUH, there’s nowhere to park in downtown Seattle either).  Also, don’t be surprised if the average fan is priced out of the Key; how else are they going to recoup costs and what will almost certainly be construction cost overruns?

It’s frustrating because the city of Seattle is, once again, making the wrong choice.  The Seattle Way is also The Way Of The Moron.  Seattle loves to look a gift horse in the mouth while it’s getting buttfucked by an STD-riddled Trojan Horse.  I can’t wait for this to blow up in everyone’s faces so all of us fans of the SoDo Arena can tell these cunts, “I Told You So!”  Except, of course, by that time, the SoDo land will have been sold for office buildings and condos, and we STILL won’t have the fucking Sonics back in Seattle.

It’s really starting to dawn on me that I’m never going to have the Sonics back in my lifetime.  Even if I have a good 30 years left in me, which is probably being pretty generous, where is the path to getting the NBA back?  Getting the NHL will be cool, and I’m sure I’ll embrace it wholeheartedly once it comes, but does that mean an NBA team isn’t far behind?  I wonder.

I keep hearing about how the NBA wouldn’t want to be a second-class citizen in a town that got the NHL first.  I don’t think that’s necessarily true, because I think this is a Sonics town through and through, but you could understand why they’d think that.

The fucked up thing is that Seattle is growing like crazy.  It’s got all these tech dollars here just burning holes in pockets!  These leagues should be busting down the doors to come to Seattle!  And, quite frankly, with how this city is pricing out the common man, thanks to the growth of Amazon, among others, we DESERVE to have these sports in this city.  We should get SOMETHING for how our city is being overwhelmed by the elites.

But, in the end, we’ll probably just get screwed over like we always do.  If you ask me, THAT’S the real Seattle Way.