NHL Seattle hints new team may not start play until 2021

Tod Leiweke arrives at NHL Board of Governors meeting on Sea Island, Georgia.

NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke hinted to KOMO News the new Seattle hockey franchise might not begin play until the 2021 season, not 2020 as originally planned.

Just last month, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly raised doubts the remodel of KeyArena might not be finished for the start of the 2020 season. If that’s the case, it’s possible that Seattle might have to wait another year to host pro hockey. The $700 million renovation can't begin until the city is awarded a team.

That will most likely happen Tuesday at the NHL Board of Directors meeting on Sea Island, Georgia.

On Monday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman remained tight-lipped on the expansion telling reporters, "No, nothing at all" on the expansion. "That will be tomorrow."

But Leiweke seemed to be preparing everyone for the start of play in 2021. He told KOMO's Matt Markovich that will give the team more time to recruit, to finish the practice facility and to make sure fans will be going to games in a completed stadium.

He added, the later start would avoid potential problems with the NHL players union.

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