If you were to ask many hockey fans which American city was the first to claim the Stanley Cup, they might not arrive at the correct answer right away.
That’s because Seattle hasn’t fielded a team capable of doing so since 1924 when the Metropolitans were dissolved. Since then the short-lived Seattle Totems and currently the Seattle Thunderbirds, a junior hockey team, are the only clubs that have called Washington's largest municipal area home.
Luckily for the Emerald City, that’s about to change.
The National Hockey League officially announced Tuesday afternoon that Seattle would be the location of its latest expansion team.
That will bring the total number of active NHL clubs to 32 and level out the Western and Eastern conferences which have been uneven since the league underwent major realignment in 2013-14.
That’s surprisingly big news for NHL betting as presumably the balancing of conferences should have an impact on a wide variety of betting markets, particularly Eastern and Western conference futures odds.
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The decision came after a vote by the NHL’s Board of Governors, and commissioner Gary Bettman revealed the result of the committee’s deliberations to a crowd of reporters and the rest of the hockey-verse.
“I am delighted to announce that this morning the Board of Governors unanimously approved a plan of expansion that will bring a National Hockey League team to Seattle, Washington, to play beginning in the 2021-22 season. Seattle, the NHL is thrilled to welcome you.”
Needing three-quarters support from the 31 owners, the motion was reportedly passed unanimously much to the delight of Seattle Hockey Partners, the new ownership group purchasing the team.
The group is owned by David Bonderman of TPG Capital, Pirates of the Caribbean Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and future team CEO Tod Leiweke. SHP will pay the NHL $650 million to join and begin the process of arena development and brand building.
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The proposed realignment will simply move the Arizona Coyotes from the Pacific to the Central Division of the Western Conference.
The Seattle franchise will begin play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and the @ArizonaCoyotes will realign to the Central Division. https://t.co/gYSiUWAreM#NHLSeattlepic.twitter.com/bT9myflZLF— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 4, 2018
The NHL has undergone plenty of expansion and realignments over the years, but for the last five seasons the Eastern Conference has encompassed more teams than the Western.
Vegas cut the deficit from two teams to one last season, so Seattle’s addition in 2021 will finally finish the balancing act with 16 on each side.
How this change will officially impact futures odds involved in Stanley Cup betting remains to be seen. At a macro level, it’s interesting to consider how expansion truly effects the league and the product it produces.
Many fans are concerned with a stretched out, watered down talent pool and the concept of another expansion draft that will result in the taking away of players from their favorite teams.
On the other hand, the Golden Knights were able to put together a phenomenal team thanks to a plethora of shrewd moves complementing the draft and in turn pull off one of the more entertaining runs to the Final in NHL history.
It appears as a collective that the NHL is willing to take the bet that a bigger league is a better league, and whether or not that’s true, there will surely be evidence to observe regarding a hypothetical increase in parity.