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Seattle will host NHL draft and All-Star weekend, commissioner says

The NHL's top leaders were in Seattle Wednesday for the first time since the city was awarded a franchise. It was a barn storming tour around the city that included some key hints about the future of hockey in Seattle.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman strongly hinted Wednesday that Seattle will host the All-Star Game and NHL draft within the next seven years.

They were just two of the items he discussed in a barnstorming tour of Seattle, his first since the league awarded the city an NHL franchise last month.

Bettman met with NHL Seattle's ownership group, led by CEO Tod Leiweke, along with Seattle Center staff, Mayor Jenny Durkan, and Seattle City Council members Debora Juarez and Sally Bagshaw during the day-long event. He also toured a suite sales center and looked at the plans for a Northgate training facility and headquarters

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Bettman addressed the media after a lunchtime meeting with potential suite buyers and stakeholders.

The Commissioner, flanked by Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and Leiweke, was in an unusually playful mood, kidding with reporters and media members about a potential team name.

If your'e on the KING 5 mobile app, click here to watch Wednesday's press conference.

"I'm going to reserve judgment," Bettman said with a wry smile when asked about the team name Kraken, and "never say never" on the Metropolitans team name. 

However, it was clear inside the room, the latter is losing support, and the Totems, a one-time Seattle-franchise, appears to be off the table as well.

"Trademarks even in sports - but anywhere there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through to get the trademark," said Bettman, when discussing the franchise name. "This is going to be a process."

Leiweke indicated season ticket depositors will have a say in the team name and they hope to make an announcement by mid-2019.

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Bettman and Daly did acknowledge that they've "promised" to bring an All-Star Game to Seattle within "seven years of playing, doesn't mean we're going to wait seven years."  But added, the "(NHL) Draft, my guess will be sooner than an All-Star Game."

They seemed to rule out a Winter Classic or Outdoor Series event, even at the newly christened T-Mobile Park, because of rain.

The League leaders raved about the planned Northgate facility, and repeatedly mentioned "District 5" or "D-5,” where it will be built. That district's council representative, Debora Juarez was in the room.

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"I've learned about the geography of politics in Seattle. D-5, very important," said Bettman. "The plans I've seen and the vision in terms of the three sheets of ice, and having 1,000 seats, and principal rink, training facilities, team offices, and all that, this is going to be a state of the art facility for the community because the team isn't practicing on all sheets 24/7."

Leiweke added that he's already talking about hosting young adult leagues and a first nations league at the new facility.

Mayor Durkan said she made her own pitch during their brief meeting Wednesday.

"I talked about the Kraken. I'm not sure I'm getting a lot of traction on that," she said with a smile.  "I think the commissioner coming here shows how invested the NHL is."

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Durkan didn't give an exact timeline of the demolition of KeyArena at Seattle Center but said "the work will be internal first, as you know we have to dig down," and it will happen soon.

Bettman said, as far as he's concerned, after today Seattle's future hockey vehicle appears to be on the right road.  

"In terms of kicking the tires, the tires are in great shape, and we couldn't be more excited,” said Bettman.

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