Seattle is going to have a team in the National Hockey League, and for Alaska hockey fans, it’ll be the closest U.S.-based team and one of only two in the Pacific Northwest.
Alaska’s ties to Seattle are already strong in many ways, and former NHL player and coach — and now NHL Seattle senior advisor — Dave Tippett talked with Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove about how hockey could be yet another connection.
Grove: So you were hired before this announcement was made that it was actually going to Seattle. What was that like?
Tippett: It was interesting. I had some people that I knew through my years in the game that had contacted me and talked to me about the project and trying to bring an NHL team to Seattle. I jumped on board and been working towards finalizing that agreement with the NHL and we finally got that the first part of December, so it’s an exciting time.
Grove: What do you think it says about hockey in the Pacific Northwest that Seattle is getting this franchise?
Tippett: I think it just shows the growth of the league. The league, the game of hockey has probably never been played at a better pace or with more skill. Very enjoyable to watch. You know, the NHL is growing like crazy right now in a lot of different markets, and it’s not just your traditional hockey markets, it’s markets that haven’t had NHL. I’ve been a part of Dallas and Arizona, they’re both markets that are growing very, very quickly, and I think Seattle will do the same. And Seattle probably has more of hockey roots with it because they’ve had teams here before. Not NHL teams, but two good junior teams and then had some some minor professional teams in the past. So it’s going to be a great market for the NHL. We’ll have a great rivalry with Vancouver. And, you know, hopefully we can be a team that people in Alaska can jump on board with also and cheer for a team in the Pacific Northwest.
Grove: You know, Alaska has this connection to Seattle sports just generally, and I wonder what you think it means to have a hockey team now this close what it means to Alaska hockey fans.
Tippett: I think it will… we talk about how it’s going to grow the game in the Washington region here, but I think that will continue to grow into the Alaska region, and I know they have some good college hockey. They’ve had some minor league hockey up there, but I think you’ll see that same connection between Seattle and Alaska that in the do you have another sports. I know there’s a ton of Seahawk fans up there and we’d like to do the same and, you know, eventually we’d love to see getting a situation, whether you play an exhibition game up there or a couple days of training camp up there, and really solidify that bond.
Grove: What’s the name going to be? Could it be the — we used to have our minor league team that you mentioned — could it be the Seattle Aces or something? Do we know what the colors are going to be?
Tippett: You know what, if I had a dollar for everybody that’s asked me that, I’d be a wealthy man. They’re still still lots of discussions going on and started with, I there was upwards, you know, over 500 names that were submitted, and I think they’re down, you know, probably between 10 and 20 now, but there’s a whole process you go through, branding, and our ownership, they continue to work through it and try to listen to the fans opinions, and eventually will come to the name you think fits best for everybody. So, if I knew it I’d tell you, but I don’t have a clue right now. So we’ll have to wait for that for a while longer.