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Tod Leiweke leaves NFL: Is Seattle NHL next for him?

Leiweke is the man responsible for hiring Pete Carroll with the Seahawks, and has had success running an NHL team.
Credit: Otto Greule Jr
CEO Tod Leiweke of the Seattle Seahawks presents new head coach Pete Carroll a Seahawks helmet during a press conference on January 12, 2010 at the Seahawks training facility in Renton, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

One time Seahawks and NHL team executive Tod Leiweke has left a high ranking position at the NFL. That has prompted immediate buzz of his potential move back to Seattle as the city tries to land an NHL team.

Leiweke is the brother of Oak View Group (OVG) President Tim Leiweke and is well-regarded in the Seattle civic and business community. He presided over Vulcan Sports and Entertainment from 2003-2010, helping to run the Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, and the expansion Seattle Sounders FC.

He left the group to help run the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning before becoming the chief operating officer at the National Football League. Leiweke was No. 2 in the NFL's league office under Commissioner Roger Goodell and was seen in some circles as a potential successor.

Goodell signed an extension, leading to some speculation that Leiweke would leave for another opportunity. It was made official Friday when Goodell sent a letter to all chief executives, club presidents, and general managers that Leiweke had decided to leave after proving "instrumental in guiding our long-term strategic process."

Tod Leiweke could not be reached for comment, but John Shannon, a long running reporter on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada tweeted, “Can confirm that Tod Leiweke has left the NFL with the intention of returning to the Pacific Northwest and joining the Seattle NHL bid.”

It would come at a time when the Seattle NHL group, led by Tim Leiweke, David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, are trying to convince the league to award an NHL expansion franchise. The group has said it believes a new arena at Seattle Center can be ready for a team to begin play in 2020. Earlier this month, it sold more than 33,000 season ticket deposits.

The moment OVG won the KeyArena redevelopment bid, there has been talk Tod Leiweke could return to Seattle. While in the city, he was credited with helping the successful launch of the Sounders and bringing in Pete Carroll to helm the Seahawks and their unprecedented run of success. But he also was civically minded in Seattle, leading a United Way campaign to fight family homelessness.

He has never hidden his love of hockey, noting how he played in an adult men's league while living in the area. He's played coy about helping his brother, saying at a GeekWire conference last year that "Seattle is truly in an amazing place in sports."

In January, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik told KING 5 how impressed he was with Tod and his impact in Seattle.

"I love Seattle. It is one of the hottest cities in the country right now,” he told KING 5, adding "You know Tod Leiweke had a lot to do with the Sounders and the Seahawks back there and I think it's a great sports city and I think hockey is going to be fantastic there."