The masses have spoken and want to know how KeyArena’s rebuild is shaping up. Plus, something about a team name and maybe a coach’s name coming soon? We’ve got info.
A: Well, it looks roughly the same from the street. You can see the roof, but the construction fencing blocks views of the temporary posts holding it up. Dozens of feet below ground, though, crews have been pouring foundation and footings in the site’s northeast quadrant.
They’ve also started building the rebar-filled permanent concrete posts back up at the building’s northeast corner and moving west and south along the roof’s edge. Dozens such posts will be reattached to now-dangling “Y” columns that usually hold up the roof.
Later, that work moves to remaining quadrants until the roof is entirely reattached. Only then can walls be rebuilt, windows reinstalled and the interior redesigned. This “build up” could start by May and takes about a year, weather permitting. That’s why a June 1, 2021, completion goal remains iffy.
The work appears to be slightly ahead of the schedule outlined in last month’s media update.
A: It depends on how quickly that roof gets reattached. If they start building up again by May and you budget six weeks for delays, that’s completion by mid-June 2021. The draft is a week later. So, having it here depends on the NHL’s appetite for close finishes. You theoretically could have the bulk of the arena ready to host executives drafting players, and that’s different from being NHL game-ready.
But you asked my opinion: I doubt the NHL and NHL Seattle want to welcome the world to a partially completed billion-dollar showpiece. From my layperson’s knowledge of arena-building and firsthand experience overseeing a major house rebuild here, the timeline seems awfully tight knowing all that can go wrong with construction projects. And with the NHL decision coming within four months, I can’t envision them stomaching that uncertainty.
Q: Next to William Shatner (of course), who do you consider the greatest living actor to be?
A: Ah, the great Captain James T. Kirk from my Starfleet Command home of Montreal. Aside from him, any other Montreal actor. No, just kidding. For me, it’s Robert De Niro. “The Deer Hunter” is my all-time favorite movie, but besides that, his “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” performances are a study in method acting. Daniel Day Lewis is runner-up.
A: Well, there can’t be open chatter because that’s “tampering” and a big no-no. Gallant has one season left on his contract after 2019-20, and it’s doubtful Vegas wants to pay that with other suitors around. NHL Seattle probably doesn’t want to pay that in full either, so discussions need to happen. Remember, Detroit and general manager Steve Yzerman — who played with Gallant — might need a new coach this summer and could be negotiating as well.
NHL Seattle will likely wait to see how that plays out and whether other coaches become available. A big shoe dropped Wednesday when Winnipeg inked Paul Maurice to a multiyear extension. Maurice would have made an intriguing option for NHL Seattle GM Ron Francis who knows him well from Carolina.
Keep an eye on Peter Laviolette and whether he gets snatched up. We should know a lot more by May — starting with whether Detroit fires coach Jeff Blashill — but these are all factors.
A: Likely March, but maybe April, I’m told, due to extensive trademark research that’s been needed. Why is it needed? Let’s say “Kraken” gets chosen. You’ve got “The Kraken Wakes” novel by John Wyndham — which I’m told may have turned NHL Seattle on to the name when it was mentioned to some team executives by a local bookstore owner a while back. There’s also Kraken Rum. And movies depicting Krakens.
None of that is about sports but the important thing with trademarks is avoiding brand confusion. I’d never thought parachuting a sport until the U.S. Army and its “Golden Knights” parachute team made problems for the Vegas NHL squad. All names have minefields: “Steelheads” is used by an ECHL team, “Metropolitans” by an MLB team, “Sasquatch” is a local book publisher and there’s even an “Evergreen” cannabis house. So, it’s pretty dope to be cautious.
A: The no-name thing has actually been done — beyond soccer “FC” initials before or after city names. In 1996, my first daily sports assignment was covering the CFL’s reborn Montreal Alouettes. They’d relocated from Baltimore after the league’s two-year cash grab … er, aborted U.S. franchise experiment. Baltimore joined the CFL in 1994 and dubbed themselves “CFL Colts” but the NFL blocked that (see trademark issues above) last-minute.
So, they were stuck using “Baltimore Football Club” — colloquially dubbed “Baltimore CFL’s” — and nearly embarrassed everybody by winning that year’s Grey Cup championship with no name until a final-play loss. They actually won the Cup in 1995 as “Baltimore Stallions” then relocated in 1996 and — assisted by a young Montreal lawyer named Mitch Garber, now an NHL Seattle owner — assumed the name of a longstanding Alouettes franchise previously disbanded in 1987. And no, NHL Seattle won’t be replicating that.