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Is Quebec Snub Open Invite for New Seattle NHL Team?

National Hockey LeagueWith Quebec City’s NHL bid put on hold because of geographic and financial decisions, insiders are saying the snub is directly related to the issue of a new Seattle NHL team — but any bid has some huge challenges.

It’s no secret that developer Chris Hansen envisioned a new Sodo arena as home to a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise — the replacement SuperSonics, as it were. It’s no secret that his project hit the wall when the Seattle City Council narrowly rejected a plan to sell part of a city street to Hansen, effectively killing a proposed new NBA/NHL arena in the city’s Sodo area for now. And it’s no secret that the clock is ticking on Hansen’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the city and King County for $200 million in public bonding — it expires in November 2017.

It’s also no secret that the NHL looks kindly on a franchise in Seattle. That’s a stance confirmed by the decision to approve just a single expansion franchise for Las Vegas instead of following tradition and awarding two expansion franchises. As noted, the NHL’s rationale for putting Quebec City’s bid on hold related to the League’s geographic imbalance, the difficulty of bringing two new teams in at the same time and the struggling Canadian dollar.

But, of course, bringing in two new teams isn’t really more work than bringing in one. And while there are legitimate concerns about the Canadian dollar, the big consideration at this time was geographic imbalance.

Which, of course, is a wink and nod to Seattle.

But that’s just the start of the discussion; besides Hansen’s arena plan, a study indicates KeyArena can be upgraded to meet modern fan expectations for $285 million. But until Hansen’s MOU expires or is declined, the city can’t move forward with any KeyArena plans. From the Seattle Times:

One thing is certain: Nothing will happen with an arena in Seattle until Hansen decides his next move.

“Chris and his partners are evaluating options and will have more to say when that process is completed,’’ Han­sen’s spokesman, Rollin Fatland, told me Wednesday via text message….

Hansen’s best arena chance could involve bringing a hockey team here first. He has already resisted two previous NHL opportunities.

He left it to Bartoszek to try to bring the Phoenix Coyotes here in 2013 when they were threatening to leave Arizona. And when the NHL launched its expansion process a year ago, Hansen and Los Angeles real-estate magnate Victor Coleman failed to reach a financial arrangement to bid for a hockey franchise.

But don’t expect the NHL to wait forever for Hansen to decide how much he loves hockey. That’s why the November 2017 MOU deadline places a natural deadline for the open invite.

RELATED STORIES: It’s Official: Las Vegas NHL Team to Launch in 2017-2018; Location for Las Vegas Practice Facility is Undecided; More on Las Vegas NHL Expansion Team; Report: NHL Selecting Las Vegas for Expansion; Seattle Rejects Street Closure — And New Arena in Process;

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