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NHL Seattle expansion team hopes to announce nickname soon

GM Francis says must 'look at how our community is doing, when is right time' with coronavirus pandemic

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

The NHL Seattle expansion team hopes to announce its nickname "sooner rather than later," general manager Ron Francis said Friday.

"We're still going through that process with the League, working hard on the trademark and the legal process," Francis said on a live Twitter broadcast arranged by NHL Seattle. "Trust me when I say it, our people are really working hard, and as soon as we've completed it, we'll look at how our community is doing and when is the right time to announce that name."

Seattle became the NHL's 32nd team Dec. 4, 2018, and is scheduled to begin play in the 2021-22 season.

NHL Seattle initially was hoping to announce the nickname and unveil its logo designs and colors in February or March, president and CEO Tod Leiweke said at the Board of Governors meeting in early December.

But the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, and Francis said NHL Seattle needs to think about the health and well-being of the community before unveiling the nickname.

"We know there is a lot of people who are super excited about the name," Francis said. "We hear you. We're excited about it as well. We also know at the same time there's a lot of people in our community experiencing some challenges. We certainly want to be very respectful and sensitive and think about when is the right time to share our name with everybody."

Francis said all NHL Seattle employees have been working remotely and holding videoconferences three days a week. He said the team also is looking to hire more staff, including amateur scouting staffs, athletic trainers and equipment managers.

"There's still a lot of work to be done with our organization," Francis said. "We have executive-level meetings, talking with our pro scouts and summing up the season and their work, looking forward and trying to figure out what the pause in the NHL season means to us in regards to the (2021 NHL) Expansion Draft, the [2021 NHL] Draft, the hiring process and all those things."

Francis said a lot of what he is planning and wants to plan before the expansion draft could be influenced by the pause in the NHL season and when it could resume.

"There's a lot of things that could affect us in regard to (the NHL salary) cap, where that level is at," Francis said. "Players have to play 40 games in the previous [season], or 70 in the previous two [seasons to be eligible for the expansion draft]. If guys don't qualify, are they going to be prorated? How are those going to work out? A lot of things will be interesting to see how they play it out over the next few months, let alone the schedule. If they're able to play again and it happens in August and September, then they take October off and start in November, that season is going to be crunched and we're going to be getting some tired hockey players in the expansion draft that played a lot of hockey in a short period of time. A lot of things that we're trying to stay on top of and watch closely to see how they play out.

"The people we have on board have done an excellent job to this point, and we'll hire some more people moving forward to give us the best opportunity to be successful when that time comes."

Part of Francis' process will be hiring NHL Seattle's first coach.

"I think it's certainly easier to have somebody with some experience at the NHL level," Francis said. "As you're getting players together and blend players that don't know each other to become a team as quick as possible, it's important to know you have a coach who has some experience. I think in today's game you need a communicator, somebody who can relate to the players and have that communication. The game has changed over time in how players respond and how they like to be treated. Experience and communication will be key part of what we're looking for."

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