Pushes to get an NHL team in Seattle have been circulating for decades. Groups have been trying to get a team in Seattle for ages, with failed attempts to expand to the city in 1975 and 1990.
It’s not like hockey is completely foreign to Seattle either. In 1917, the PCHA’s Seattle Metropolitans were the first U.S. team to win the Stanley Cup. The Seattle Totems played minor-league hockey from 1944-1975. Seattle even has a Western Hockey League team, the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The presence of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics was a challenge for an NHL team in Seattle, not only because of the market, but also because of the fact that the KeyArena, Seattle’s major stadium, was built for the SuperSonics, not for hockey.
When the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma, the NHL’s interest in a team in Seattle increased.
In 2017, it was go time. A group led by Tim Leiweke, the former president and CEO of MLSE (owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs) and AEG (part-owner of the Los Angeles Kings) were set to start work at KeyArena.
Seattle’s ownership group began work with the NHL, the league agreed to a $650 million expansion fee, and the rest was history.
On July 23rd, 2020, the team finally announced their name: the Seattle Kraken.
KeyArena was renamed to Climate Pledge Arena, a partnership between Amazon and the Kraken to create a zero-carbon arena.
The Seattle Kraken don’t have any players… yet.
Ahead of their inaugural season, the Kraken will participate in an expansion draft. The draft rules will be very similar to what the Vegas Golden Knights had in 2017.
Here are the rules:
30 NHL teams (the Golden Knights are exempt from the draft) will be permitted to A. Protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and a goalie, or B. Protect 8 skaters and a goalie.
Players with no-movement clauses must be protected unless they agree to waive that clause.
Players with two or less professional seasons, as well as unsigned draft choices, are exempt from being picked.
Teams must expose: two forwards and one defenseman who are under contract for the 2021-22 season and have played in 40+ games the last season, OR 70+ games in the last two seasons. They also must expose a goalie under contract for the 2021-22 season or is a pending RFA in 2020-21.
This ensures that Seattle can ice a somewhat competitive roster. Seattle must draft a minimum of 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goalies. Their team must be within the NHL’s salary cap.
President & CEO – Tod Leiweke
Tod Leiweke was a huge hire for the team from the get-go. His resume is up there as one of the best in sports. Leiweke has been: The CEO and Minority Owner of Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment (owns the Tampa Bay Lightning and owned the Tampa Bay Storm), president of the Minnesota Wild, acting president of the Portland Trail Blazers, the CEO of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC, COO of the NFL, and he’s held positions with the Vancouver Canucks, Golden State Warriors, and the PGA Tour. Those are just the major stops. Leiweke is not to be confused with older brother Tim Leiweke, who runs the group preparing the arena for the Kraken (and their AHL affiliate in Palm Springs).
Owner – David Bonderman
David Bonderman doesn’t have a hockey history, but what he lacks in hockey experience, he makes up for in money. Forbes puts Bonderman’s net worth at a whopping $4 billion. Bonderman is an investor, he’s on the boards of numerous companies, and is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics.
Owner – Jerry Bruckheimer
Jerry Bruckheimer is one of the biggest names in Hollywood. He’s been a producer for some of the biggest franchises in Hollywood, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Top Gun, and Bad Boys, as well as notable T.V. series such as CSI, Lucifer, and The Amazing Race. Bruckheimer was a Red Wings fan as a kid and considered buying the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins in the 90s. He and Bonderman worked together to try and buy the Vegas franchise, but instead, they’re owners of the NHL’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken. Bruckheimer has a net worth of $900 million.
General Manager – Ron Francis
Ron Francis is best known as an NHL legend, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and was named one of the NHL’s Top 100 Players of All-Time in 2017. However, Francis’ GM career hasn’t been as stellar as his playing career. After 8 seasons in a variety of different roles for the Hurricanes, Francis was named GM in 2014. However, after four seasons in which the Hurricanes struggled, but not enough to land a high pick, the decision was made to let Francis go in 2018. In Seattle, Ron Francis gets his fresh start, in which he has plenty of time to turn his managerial career around.
Assistant General Manager – Rick Olczyk
Coming with Francis is a man who has worked with him before. Rick Olczyk. The two worked together during their four years as GM/AGM of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Olczyk has been an AGM for 10 years and counting, Kraken fans won’t have to worry about his experience.
Coaching Staff – Vacant
The Seattle Kraken have yet to name a member of their coaching staff.