Seattle expansion team expects nickname early in 2020, before coach

The Seattle NHL expansion team is likely to have a nickname before it has a coach, general manager Ron Francis told SI.com on Monday.

“There’s a meeting every week on it,” Francis said of the nickname. “The plan is to have a name as we get early into 2020.”

Seattle was approved as the NHL’s 32nd team on Dec. 4 and Francis was hired as general manager on July 18. He said it is likely to hire a coach sometime from January to June 2020, but it’s possible a desired candidate could accelerate that timetable.

Francis will have input on the coach but is avoiding being involved in choosing the nickname, despite the efforts of Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke.

“Tod keeps trying to drag me into that one, but I’m trying to stay out of it,” Francis said. “They have a firm that’s working on that.”

Seattle is expected to select players in the NHL Expansion Draft and NHL Draft in June 2021 and is scheduled to begin play for the 2021-22 season. The expansion draft is expected to have the same rules as the Vegas Golden Knights did when they joined the NHL for the 2017-18 season.

Francis said he has sought advice from Vegas executives George McPhee and Brad McCrimmon, and Nashville GM David Poile.

“They all said the same thing,” Francis said. “It’s a lot of stuff. It’s a lot of work, but just an incredibly gratifying process to go through.”

Tweet from @SInow: Why did Ron Francis return to hockey to steer Seattle’s expansion franchise? https://t.co/mzO1vfK4Md

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