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TSN’s Pierre LeBrun cautions NHL Seattle fans against expecting success of Vegas

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman formally announced an expansion team for Seattle Tuesday. (AP)

Hockey fans in the Pacific Northwest got the news they’d been waiting for Tuesday morning when the NHL officially awarded Seattle an expansion team. The only damper — albeit a small one — on the highly-anticipated announcement was that the team’s inaugural season will be played in 2021, as opposed to 2020.

NHL Seattle primer: What fans need to know about expansion team

TSN hockey insider Pierre LeBrun says NHL’s decision to postpone to the 2021 season is mostly a positive for Seattle, but has one potential drawback.

On the one hand, Seattle will be given a longer lead-up than the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the league’s most recent expansion franchise who were the surprise of the 2017-18 season, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season. On the other, teams will be wiser when it comes to the expansion draft this time around and will have plenty of time to prepare.

“It cuts two ways,” LeBrun told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard and Mike Salk Wednesday morning. “I think on the one hand, especially if the Seattle group decides to hire a general manager as early as two years out, and Vegas hired their general manager 15 months out, that should be an advantage for Seattle. But on the flip side, in talking to some general managers from other teams… they think it’ll be an advantage for them to sort of navigate around the expansion draft and make life a bit harder for Seattle as far as trying to strategize and not give away as good of players…

“But I can tell you this: the NHL for a long time has wanted a team in Seattle. I mean, more than 10 years ago. And frankly, I think the league was disappointed when it opened the expansion process up (to add a team for 2017-18) and Vegas and Quebec City applied and Seattle did not. Privately I think that was disappointing for the league because they really wanted Seattle. But we know why and we know the political ramifications of trying to get KeyArena and the renovation done. They just needed more time.”

The unprecedented success Vegas enjoyed last season might seem like a reason to be hopeful Seattle’s NHL team could also quickly be a contender, but LeBrun cautions against assuming a similarly short path to the playoffs.

“The rules are in place for Seattle to have a decent team right out of the gates,” LeBrun said. “Listen, they’re not going to the Stanley Cup final like the Golden Knights did, let’s make sure everyone understands that. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But they are going to be a decent team, a competitive team right out of the gates because of the players that are going to be available to them. And because of that, I think those games with Vancouver right from the outset will be competitive.”

LeBrun also talks about the Canucks’ support for an expansion team in Seattle and gives his own recommendation for a team name. Listen to the entire interview in the audio clip embedded above or at this link.

Listen to Brock and Salk weekdays 7-10 a.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle. Subscribe to the podcast here. Download the 710 ESPN app here.

Seattle moves into next phase after NHL expansion approval