While plans for an arena in Seattle are probably contingent on being able to secure an NBA team and getting them to move up to the Pacific Northwest, it wouldn't hurt if they could find an NHL team as well. Putting two teams in the same arena would go a long way toward getting the arena the team is looking for.
Craig Custance, an NHL reporter for ESPN.com, wrote in his Insider blog (note: you must have an ESPN Insider account to read the article) on Friday that "if there were any doubts" Seattle has moved to the front of the NHL's relocation wishlist "they were erased when Seattle announced Christopher Hansen's proposal to build a new arena." While cities like Quebec City and Toronto have been cited as possible destinations for a new NHL team, Custance thinks Seattle has jumped to the top of the list for a relocated franchise.
"Having moved the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, I don't think the league is necessarily that thrilled with the idea of sending another team north of the border," Custance told the "Brock and Salk Show" on Friday.
"If you're the league you have to look at the big picture, and you still want to teams in these strategically placed American-based markets. I think that's important to the league and I think that's important to [commissioner] Gary Bettman, and I think that's why Seattle is in the drivers seat."
Seattle always seemed like a natural fit for an NHL team. It's in a cold-weather town, it's a city full of hungry sports fans that will attend everything (they fill up MLS games in an NFL stadium!), and they have a potential budding rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks that could really blossom over time. There's a lot to like about the NHL setting up shop in Seattle if they do end up finding the team, although it's no guarantee they can get one since it's unclear if there are any candidates to take them.
The Phoenix Coyotoes are the likeliest team, although they're probably being sold to people who want to keep them where they are.