The NHL’s newest franchise dominated a 32-year-old club in its first meeting, a 7-0 victory over the Canucks on Friday night.
Even before the NHL announced that Seattle would be taking over as the league’s 29th team in September, the demand from the franchise’s target city has been fairly intense and unanimous. Attention swung to the city two nights before the news of the award, when the NHL Prospects Combine in Dallas was denied an expansion franchise that qualified.
Seattle backers on social media rejoiced, mockingly declaring, “Score one for the Human Resource Department.” With two major events, Geekwire, The Seattle Times and the principal newspapers in the area all going public with their support, the NHL’s decision to go forward with the franchise was made easy. The media was positive, but did not cover the local angle quite as intensely as the social media panhandlers. But then a little more than a month later, the Seattle Storm, the city’s WNBA franchise, won the national championship. During the season, a celebration has been going on at the Space Needle in Seattle, featuring musicians Snoop Dogg and Andre 3000, as well as Director Spike Lee.
The first real local advantage the city holds, however, was highlighted by a breakthrough offseason: the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, the Sounders won their second MLS Cup, and the Mariners finished the season with a wild-card playoff berth. More recently, former NFL quarterback Russell Wilson got married and Amazon opened its own headquarters in Seattle.
With the Sounders and Mariners playing their home games at CenturyLink Field, which have some of the best turf in the league, and the Storm winning the WNBA championship, Seattle is a bright spot in what has been a pretty bad 12 months for the local sports scene.
The NFL has a problem here. Seattle has had 11 starting quarterbacks since Pete Carroll took over in 2010, including each of Seattle’s head coaches — Mike Holmgren, John Schneider and Pete Carroll. Holmgren’s quarterbacks were Shaun Hill, Matt Hasselbeck, Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson, John Beck, Kellen Clemens, Wilson, Jermaine Kearse, Brady Quinn, Tarvaris Jackson, Russell Wilson and Alex McGough.
The coach behind the majority of those quarterbacks has been Carroll, who took over during the end of Holmgren’s tenure and who has used the same philosophy, both on the field and in the locker room, even after going through two general managers and two coordinators. Under Carroll, three of the 11 quarterbacks have been drafted, including Wilson, first overall in the 2012 draft, who led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl. Seattle has had eight back-up quarterbacks who saw more than a few games, with an average career completion percentage of 58.2 percent. The total of quarterbacks who have played under Carroll since 2010 is more than any other coach in the league.
Seattle and the NFL could have reached a deal on a new stadium in 2015 and may have done it in 2016 or even 2017. Instead, there was political wrangling over a potential project that never happened. After that, fans of the Seahawks didn’t hold out hope for the team staying in Seattle after its lease with Qwest Field expired after the 2017 season.
In September, the Oregonian reported that the Seahawks were turning the field at CenturyLink Field into a midfield. The idea was that the field would be not the same size as NFL standards, though it was originally meant to be a smaller field because the rest of the retractable roof and the special technology that holds it shut can be compromised in adverse weather. Also, a report in October claimed that Seattle had rejected a pitch to install larger nets in the facility to give the the Seahawks more room to work during football practice. So the team will be starting the 2019 season with only a different interior surface, from about 2.5 years ago, but a slightly wider one.
Since then, fans have come to expect anything from the team. In November, general manager John Schneider said that quarterback Russell Wilson “might sit a little while” with an injured knee, but Schneider would “never” bench him and “he’s not even mentioned” for the Hall of Fame.
Much like those summers of 2006 and 2007, when Wilson was experiencing a wave of sudden success and fans grew anxious for him to kick off his career in the NFL, Seattle fans feel the same way today: We need our team to be a winner.