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Report: Gretzky joins group wanting NHL team in Seattle

Jul 4, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

Wayne Gretzky AP

The movement to bring National Hockey League action to the Pacific Northwest may have gotten a big boost.

Wayne Gretzky has reportedly joined a group aiming to bring an NHL team to Seattle, per the New York Post. The report comes just months after the NHL downplayed a visit by commissioner Gary Bettman to Seattle, as the commish said he and Bill Daly were only there to “find out what the building story was.”

Here’s more on the Gretzky angle, from the Post:

It is not known if the Gretzky group or either of the other two groups are eyeing an expansion team or hope to move an existing team to the Pacific Northwest.

A move to buy a Seattle team would mark at least the second time the 53-year-old Hall of Famer tried to become an NHL owner.

In 2011, Gretzky partnered with Providence Equity Partners, a New York private-equity firm, in a $1.5 billion bid for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA Toronto Raptors.

However, the NHL rejected the group’s offer because it would have been structured as a leveraged buyout with debt levels higher than 50 percent of the franchise value — which is against NHL rules.

The arena situation in Seattle is fuzzy, to say the least. Following his visit in May, Bettman said the following:

“We weren’t there campaigning, we weren’t asking for anything, and that’s been misreported. Based on the level of interest we’re getting from lots of people in Seattle and a fair amount of uncertainty and confusion about the building, we decided ‘Let’s go find out for ourselves what the story is with the building.’

“And there’s no prospect of a building right now.”

The guy behind the proposed building is investor Chris Hansen, who currently holds the rights with the city of Seattle to build a new arena. Hansen, however, said he isn’t going to move forward with the building until he gets an NBA franchise.

Following the Bettman visit, there was another development on the arena front — Steve Ballmer, one of Hansen’s biggest financial partners, successfully bid to purchase the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers*. Despite that perceived setback, Hansen insisted he remained committed to building in Seattle.

“I would also like to assure Seattle fans that my remaining partners and I remain committed to bringing the NBA back to Seattle,” Hansen explained, per KING5 News. The environmental review process for the Seattle Arena is nearing completion and we will soon be in a strong position to attract a franchise back to the Emerald City.”

It’ll be curious to see what Gretzky’s influence will play in this situation — if it plays at all (or, if the reports of his actual involvement prove accurate.)

*This bid is now tied up in something of a legal mess, of course.

  1. packerswin96 - Jul 4, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    Go away already!

    • imleftcoast - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:49 AM

      The Seattle City Council only approved building if there is an NBA franchise. It’s not a Hansen decision as the article indicates. A group tried to get them to change the approval to allow for only an NHL franchise a couple months ago, and they wouldn’t. But if Florida were moving and played in the Key for two years, I think they would bend to recover some of the cost of that arena upgrade.

  2. pj608 - Jul 4, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    There is no hockey team in the North west. Two closest are Vancouver and LA. Between that there is nothing. Would be a good move. Find another spot too and we can have 32 teams. 16 on each in stead of this lopsided 14-16.

    • timmyp716 - Jul 4, 2014 at 8:09 PM

      Between that is San Jose…..but i agree Seattle does need a team

      • desertfan - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        Seattle and Portland-

        forget Vegas and commie QC!!!!

      • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:46 AM

        Yeah sorry. I thought SJ was south of LA.

    • critter69 - Jul 4, 2014 at 10:08 PM

      ‘pj’,

      Add a team in Quebec City, move an Eastern team to the West, and with Seattle, the NHL would be a 32 team league with 16 teams in each conference.

      • pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:47 AM

        either way it should be 16 and 16. Not 16 14. Montreal is enough of you QC baboons though if you ask me

  3. bullwinkle88 - Jul 4, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    Go to Portland. Leave Seattle to the NBA.

  4. clayman61 - Jul 4, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    Portland would be a better choice..

  5. maverickstar - Jul 4, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    I would think as soon as someone gets a deal done for a team and an arena in Seattle for NBA or NHL team, a team from the other league would be joining them very soon after that.

  6. thailer35 - Jul 4, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Gretzky wants to get his hands on another team to run into the ground? Oh “great one”, you were a great hockey player, an entertaining showboat, and a fantastic actor (see Edmonton/LA trade) but your arrogance hides the fact that you clearly know nothing about running a team from yourself.

    Go away. Sincerely, Arizona.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:30 PM

      Indeed, thailer, despite being handed the greatest assemblage of hockey talent ever to take the ice in an NHL arena, Gretzky was still somehow unable to coach them to the Stanley Cup. Truly pitiful. And falling short on the coaching front tells us all we need to know about how the most productive player of all time would fare as an owner, because obviously the skills required are the same.

    • blomfeld - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      WELL SAID TRAILER ! :)

      Wayne Gretzky was a great hockey player and that’s where it ends. He was never more than a B-grade coach at best, his verbal communication skills are positively atrocious, his acting skills are borderline ‘childish’ and his business acumen appears to be consistent with that of a cave dweller. I loved Gretzky during his Oilers and Kings days, but then my opinion of him changed 180 degrees during his Blues and Rangers days. Today sadly, I view him as being nothing more than a wealthy, parasitic, namby-pamby who lives off ‘historical’ credit alone. And I can never forgive him for the ‘great’ harm he did to Bettman’s desert enterprise.

      “hey Wayne, you better get going man … Janet’s calling you !”

  7. WillIEverSeeACupInMyLife? - Jul 4, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Get rid of at least 4 teams then you can add Seattle

    • chief361 - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      i know the one panthers fan here will disagree with me but that franchise has to go (and yes, i know they have a lease with the city for about the next 20 years). i’m with the relocation before expansion party on this argument. adding another team before moving a failing one would be insane.

  8. phtjoey - Jul 4, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    Go Wayne! You’re more credible than thailer35 no doubt.

  9. titansbro - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Seattle > Portland.

    • justinhbhb - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      The only reason they should choose Seattle over Portland is the Metro area size which may equate to fans and television ratings. Other then that, Portland has an arena and an interested owner with an NBA team which gets great attendance..

  10. joejacks - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    NHL needs to wise with anything Gretzky gets into. Didn’t Bettman already learn that several years ago with the wife and friend Tocchet taking the fall.

  11. justinhbhb - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    The NHL won’t be getting a team until the government of Seattle realizes that the NBA will not expand for awhile. They probably think cause the NHL has had lockouts that they are a liability. When the NHL shows a few more years of sustained revenue growth and after any remaining franchise “fires” are settled, the government will change their mind and let the NHL get involved. I estimate around the 100 year anniversary of the league…

    • sw19womble - Jul 4, 2014 at 10:25 PM

      The NHL (or rather Bettman) will find someway to shoot themselves in the foot…. and the bullet will likely ricochet into the fans’ collective face too.

      2 lockouts in 8 years: the last one a mulligan because the owners couldn’t manage to help themselves.

      At least 4 franchises still in an enormous hole.

      Even the incompetence of the 14/16 East/West split…. Not to mention Detroit being in the Atlantic… I’m surprised these bozos can run a bath.

      I’m a hockey fan, but there’s only so many times you can fool me.

      Good luck tho, Seattle (or Portland) You’re going to need it.

  12. thailer35 - Jul 4, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    Was actually talking more about his plan with Moyes to financially ruin the team, but that’s fine, didn’t expect man of you to follow anyway.

  13. 34defense2014 - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    That’s funny packerswin96!! I was thinking the same exact thing when I read this post!!! Yes! Go away already! PLEASE! Pretty please!!

  14. blomfeld - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    ‘YES’ to cities such as …

    – Seattle
    – Portland
    – Kansas City
    – Saskatoon
    – Quebec City

    and ‘NO’ to cities such as …

    – Miami
    – Tampa Bay
    – Long Island
    – Anaheim
    – Dallas

    • nflnhlrulznbasux - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:26 AM

      YES to:

      The Stanley Cup playoffs
      To the only sport that allows for true emotionalism
      To a 100 year organization that has unbelievable potential to grow

      NO to:

      Mr. Bean and Whoppie Goldberg movies
      Pierre McGuire and Joe Buck halloween costumes
      Blimeburg’s stupid comments, irritating unwatched videos and his erroneous self-inflated sense of knowledge with all things hockey

    • 22yearsagotoday - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      Long Island ain’t a city.

  15. greatmiamisportsmind - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    -Moving Florida (Miami in your case) isn’t fair due to the fact, the Panthers haven’t had a relative team since 1996, as evident by the fact they have made the playoffs once since 1999-2000 (or when the now defunct Atlanta Thrashers were an expansion team). Not many markets would draw well with that crappy product on the ice. It’s been run into the ground by the past couple owners. With new ownership in town and is willing to let Tallon spend to the cap ceiling, as opposed to the cap floor, let’s wait a few years and see what happens.

    -Tampa Bay shouldn’t move. They were top 8 in attendance the past 2 seasons and 13th 3 years ago. So clearly attendance isn’t an issue their.

    -Long Island has been possibly solved as after next season they are moving to Brooklyn into the Barclays Center, and changing their name to the Brooklyn Islanders and probably changing their logo to black and white to coincide with the NBA’s nets.

    -Dallas has always been a terrible idea, but I’m probably being impartial since they stole my hockey team while growing up, and will never be forgiven for that.

    -Anaheim has never drawn well, despite stable ownership.

    The last 2 I could see being moved. Arizona could also be moved as well.

    No current team in the east is going to want to go to the western conference. Expansion is clearly going to happen within the next handful of years.

  16. pj608 - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    Top 4 states where i think then NHL should put a team on the west is Oregon, Washington, North Dakota or Montana. WAYYYYYYY TO MANY LA BANDWAGONERS. Get some hockey up north. North Dakota and Montana dont have any professional sports team so why not get some Hockey flowing through their veins?

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:23 AM

      Does anybody live in Montana?

      North Dakota is a great college hockey market, nothing else.

      • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:32 AM

        Yeah people live in Montana…. and North Dakota. Exactly….. Great College hockey market so what makes you think an NHL team wouldn’t hold up there? Put one in Seattle and one in Fargo, North Dakota.

        Fargo has a higher population than Greenbay and Berkeley, Calif…. there is not a single Professional sports team in North Dakota…. Look at the success the Green Bay Packers had in the NFL. Now your telling me a state that loves college hockey wont want an Professional NHL Team in their state? That could be a major hit….

      • 22yearsagotoday - Jul 7, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        Florida’s one big tampon. Montana’s and North Dakota aren’t.

  17. pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:36 AM

    No one thinks out side the box… Maybe you should get another team in California so you will have 3 teams there just like you do in NY. Buffalo, Islanders and Rangers. Hey guess who has the biggest fan base? The Rangers! They were there first…. and it already shows that the San Jose Sharks are becoming like the Islanders (talking about the fan base)…. Get Hockey into a new state that has nothing and it will give you everything. Especially one that shows they love hockey.

    • pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:51 AM

      Even if you put one in south Dakota it would be the same as the Carolina Hurricanes starting out in South Carolina then moving to North Carolina… The message being that fan base is ALL OF CAROLINA. Not just North Carolina. You will gain viewers from the states that surround it. If you put teams to close together it restricts the about of viewers you have….

      Look at it this way. Lets say Colorado didnt have a hockey team….Nevada, Utah,New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska along with all the states up north would either be Dallas stars, SJ or LA fans or even wild fans….. or they wouldnt care about hockey at all because its too far away.

      Now you put the Colorado Avalanche in there…. Now you immediately gain viewers from Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Wyoming, and Utah. It is something new just a state over. Put one team in Seattle Washington and a team over in North or south Dakota and you will gain viewers from all the states surrounding those. Especially the states that don’t have a professional sports team representing their state. Its very simple if you aren’t narrow minded.

    • patthehockeyfan - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      Just an FY, pj. California HAS 3 teams: LA Kings, SJ Sharks and Anaheim Ducks

  18. pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:57 AM

    Green bay has less population than any city that an NHL team represents and i can almost guarantee you that the Green Bay Packers organization has brought in at least 5 times the amount of money that any one single hockey team has done. But those fans love their football…. that’s for damn sure.

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