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Seattle NHL expansion team 'going to be ready' despite pandemic
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The general manager of the NHL's newest team, soon to be called the Seattle Kraken, gathered the scouts in Seattle so they could get to know each other and start preparing for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.They had no idea what was to come.Francis hasn't been to Seattle since. Uncertainty surrounds the expansion draft and 2021 NHL Draft too, including when and where they will take place.Seattle wanted to host the drafts at its new home, a project now called Climate Pledge Arena with a price tag of about $1 billion, in June."Our hope was we could unveil this building and this team with the rest of the League here in Seattle," Kraken president and CEO Tod Leiweke said. And I think we're realistic."The Kraken have kept perspective and adapted to the situation."Those were a year ago really big issues," Leiweke said, referring to the drafts. "It's funny how things change."It has been two years since the NHL announced expansion to Seattle on Dec. 4, 2018, and the team has made remarkable progress during the past year, despite the pandemic, in building an arena, a training center, a brand, an organization and a fan base.Enthusiasm has not waned amid the pandemic. Since then, they are second in sales to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Stanley Cup champions, on even though jerseys haven't been available, according to Brian Jennings, NHL senior executive vice president of marketing.After completing the club seat selection in person before the pandemic, the Kraken were to start general seat selection in March. People have desperately wanted things to look forward to, and I think that we're a symbol of that hope that at some point in time the world will return, and we will get back together, we will cheer, and this is a pretty cool thing in Seattle's future."About 10 months remain until the Kraken will begin play, assuming the 2021-22 season begins on time. That's about it."I often think about what that first staff meeting is going to be like," Leiweke said.The Kraken now have more than 120 employees; Leiweke has not met many in person. But it's really making people feel connected, feeling they're part of this team, and we've got a lot of work going on."The Kraken didn't have a set date to launch their brand, because they were waiting for the trademark resolution, but had tentative plans that included experiences for fans and large gatherings. Though teams will be tight against the cap or internal budgets, the Kraken will have a clean slate."I do think a lot of the other teams and the GMs have had maybe more time than in the past expansion draft [for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017] to sort of prepare their teams and the roster for it," Francis said."But I think the biggest thing for us is coming in with the cap space and how this is going to play out moving forward, not just for Year One but also looking down the road. I think it's important to look at Years Two and Three and make sure we manage that in the right way."* * * * *Two years ago, NHL Seattle's slogan was "RETURN TO HOCKEY." It recalled the rich hockey history of the city.

As said here by Nicholas J. Cotsonika