We’re drawing closer to having a team name and uniform colors as well as ticket prices unveiled, so naturally there are questions flying about that process. Also about how the non-expansion part of next year’s draft will work for NHL Seattle. Let’s get to it.
A: Never too early for draft questions. The answer is a resounding “Yes’’ – NHL Seattle gets the same draft slot odds the Vegas Golden Knights did in 2017.
I should specify that we’re talking about the regular entry draft here, not the expansion draft in which NHL Seattle selects all by itself. For the regular draft, Seattle enters the first round lottery with the same chance as the team with the third-fewest points in next season’s standings.
Back in 2017, that gave Vegas a 10.3% chance at the top overall pick. New Jersey wound up getting it and selected Swiss center Nico Hischier from the major junior Halifax Mooseheads. Hischier has 50 goals and 82 assists his first three seasons – including this one – while becoming an alternate captain.
There are lottery draws for the first three overall picks. NHL Seattle picks no lower than No. 6 overall. Vegas fared the worst possible in 2017 and picked sixth, taking center Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks.
After the first round, NHL Seattle gets the third-highest pick in each subsequent round.
A: Yes, the team will release prices for general season tickets next Tuesday and begin inviting smaller, select groups of deposit-holders — based on priority list ranking — to their preview center for the full-on guided tour. The team expects to complete sales by mid-summer. That group thing at the preview center went over well for club tickets, which sold out despite some pretty hefty pricing. So, they’re taking their time with this next round, which leads me to believe prices will again be steep.
More interesting — for me, at least — will be whether NHL Seattle seeks mandatory commitments of multiple seasons like on club seats. That’s uncharted territory in the NHL. Club insiders are being very tight-lipped about pricing and related matters and have taken time to figure it out.
A: About the same as Seattle Two-Headed Robo-Seals. Sorry!
Sure, “Pilots” is a part of our sports history. But like I’ve always said about the difference between stockpiling quality young players and having a bunch of guys merely with more recent birth certificate dates, there’s a huge gap between meaningful history and — um — garbage history. There’s almost nothing meaningful about the 1969 Pilots season as a Major League Baseball team here, beyond Jim Bouton’s tell-all book. And a big reason Ball Four resonated was because the Pilots were horrible and a financial disaster — a perfect recipe for a lurid, gossip-filled tome. But not exactly quality history worth tying a new team’s name to, as opposed to, say, Totems or Metropolitans. I’m all for historical romanticism and I practice it plenty, but this ain’t the hill to die on.
On the aviation aspect, Boeing’s reputation was far better locally and nationally in 1969 than right now. And in marketing, that drives any decision. The original team trademark was abandoned in 2005, but the Milwaukee Brewers — formed when Bud Selig relocated the Pilots there — registered a new one in 2006. It covers all Seattle Pilots clothing like T-shirts, baseball uniforms and caps. So, too big a headache for an already-loaded name.
A: Yes, the NHL must give formal approval on that. Sure, this is an independent team. But pro sports are more akin to branch offices of the same company. In Major League Soccer, it actually is financially structured like a branch office but that’s for another day. NHL Seattle has run everything by the league’s head office and that’s largely why the team name announcement has been delayed until April. From what I know, the league was insisting on extra trademark diligence. Also, I know NHL Seattle wasn’t crazy about “Orcas” as a name largely because the Canucks have an Orca within their logo. But anyhow, the league approves all naming, logos, uniform design and colors to head off such disputes beforehand.
As you noted, the Bruins and Penguins butted heads 40 years ago. Boston president Harry Sinden claimed the Penguins had stolen his team’s uniforms when they announced a pending January 1980 switch to a black and gold motif akin to Pittsburgh’s Steelers and Pirates. Sinden — always good for a fight or three — tried to claim the Bruins for decades had been the NHL’s black and gold team.
“There’s no way we’re giving permission for them to adopt our colors,” Sinden told the Boston Globe. “Those colors are part of our tradition and heritage. We’re going to fight it if Pittsburgh tries to do it,”
The NHL told him to take a hike — that they have no exclusive color rights within the NHL itself. Besides, the Penguins were terrible and their uniforms even worse from 1967 through 1980 and they wanted a franchise do-over. A do-over that’s gone quite nicely since switching colors and drafting Mario Lemieux from my hometown Laval Voisins junior team in 1984.