This Vast Abyss

I tried to find something topical and witty to start things off with, but nothing seems funny these days. I have a feeling you understand.

So, to the point, it’s been a while since we all were watching or talking or thinking about hockey, and I’m glad you dropped by. There was a little movement in our Seattle NHL world over the last 48 hours, and I thought I would let you know what’s going on.

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Due to the coronavirus outbreak and the dangers inherent in having large groups of people together in even moderately enclosed spaces, construction on the Key Arena renovation is — to nobody’s surprise — behind schedule. The delay this time is announced as “several months”, but the word is that being ready for the start of the 2021-22 season is still well within reach.

What it definitely does mean, however, is the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft will not — repeat, will not — take place in the renovated Key Arena. That can now be etched in stone. Regarding the start of the 2021-22 regular season, there are a number of known-unknowns that we can address quickly, all of which work in Seattle’s favor.

The professional hockey world runs on a calendar that occupies 11 months out of the year — September through July. The order is as follows: Training camp, pre-season, regular season (with an all-star break in there somewhere), draft position lottery, playoffs, Stanley Cup Championship, scouting combine, amateur draft, and the start of free agency. There are other milestone dates in there for things like contract buyouts, last day to report for restricted free agents, and so on.

And, presumably, next spring there is the added variable of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft thrown in there between the end of the playoffs and the amateur draft.

Here’s the thing: in nearly every instance any item on the calendar is dependent upon the completion of its predecessor. You can’t start the regular season without training camp. You can’t start free agency until you know what kind of rookies you drafted. These things take a prescribed amount of time and a rigorous amount of preparation on the part of the teams, so messing with the order or the timeline is (in most cases) just short of impossible.

So: this year, with a 4-month break (that may get extended for an unknown amount of time if the COVID-19 outbreaks in hub cities become overwhelming) in between the (ir)regular season and the equally irregular playoffs, everything is pushed back. Assuming the 2019-20 playoffs start in July (!!!), they end in September, which means 2020-21 training camp won’t start until October at the absolute earliest, meaning a November start to the 2020-21 regular season, ending in June, etc.

This means the start of Seattle’s inaugural season in the NHL will most likely be shoved back at least a month and maybe more, which gives construction crews, designers, plumbers, electricians, inspectors, and everyone else even more time to get Key Arena ready for opening day.

As an aside: I have heard a number of these proposals for how the schedule is going to get jimmied for the next 2 years. But the one I think is the most reasonable is the one nobody has brought up: shorten the 2020-21 season to 48 games, a la 2013. Start in January, play through April, playoffs start on time, everything else has a chance to get back in sync. We’ll see what they decide.

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The other matter that came up is that of the long-awaited team name/mascot/logo/colors announcement. Spoiler alert: it’s been delayed again. (*GASP!*)

Now, with what’s been going on in our fair city, it’s no bloody wonder they decided to put it off. They’re right, it isn’t the right time. I’m not sure the “right time” is going to be here for several months, and they seem to agree with me — Tod Lieweke suggested “fall” as a potential announcement time frame. That’s all fine, and completely reasonable.

What I see as unreasonable is the glaring lie that NHL Seattle continues to roll out about copyright issues, due diligence, “dotting all the i’s”, blah blah blah.

Tod, nobody’s buying it.

Months and months and months ago NHL Seattle announced quite proudly that they had made their presentation to the NHL Board of Governors, from whom they must get approval for any name/mascot/logo decision. The presentation was completed, the Board approved, smiles and handshakes all around; everything was final, it was all in the can. It had to be: you don’t go into your boss’s office and say, “Well, we might do this, or we might do this, or if the lawyers say we can’t then we’ll do one of these other things…” And you certainly don’t do that with a decision upon which billions of dollars in merchandising revenue is riding.

Now: is it possible that all of that was done, the Board’s approval was given, and then something popped in from clear out of the blue and scuttled the whole thing, causing NHL Seattle to go back to square one? Yes, in theory it’s possible. But if the lawyers did their jobs, the likelihood of that occurring is one in millions. If an actual member of the Board of Governors wants to set me straight with the facts, hit me up.

Otherwise, Tod, knock it off. We understand that in the midst of a worldwide epidemic and national crisis of conscience in our governing entities and first responders you want to steer clear of the chaos for several months. We get it: you do not want your franchise-defining announcement scheduled for the same day that the headlines do nothing but blare gloom and doom across everyone’s home page. That’s perfectly understandable, and the public will not hold that against you.

But you do yourself no favors by continuing to lie about the situation. You have a name, logo, colors, it’s all ready to go. Everybody knows this. They also know that this cover story is a load of bull, and I’ll continue to say so as long as NHL Seattle continues to lean on it.

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It’s been three months since you heard from us, and it may be three months before you hear from us again. That’s one of the guiding principles here at Jet City Ice: no filler.

As we all do what we need to in order to keep ourselves healthy and our households on stable footing while floating in this vast abyss, the last thing you need is more moronic click-bait distracting you from what’s important. As such, we will continue to refrain from hammering you with mindless drivel along the lines of, “The 50 Best Playoff Overtime Goals Scored By Left Wingers Born Between Noon and 6pm On A Monday, Wednesday, Or Friday.”

That’s not who we are; that’s not what we do. Content for content’s sake is idiotic, so you’ll hear from us again when there’s something worthwhile to say.

So until then, stay safe, take care of you and yours, and we’ll see you when we see you.

Author: Tim Currell

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