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caption: Ron Francis, the new general manager of Seattle's NHL team, stands atop the Space Needle
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Ron Francis, the new general manager of Seattle's NHL team, stands atop the Space Needle
Credit: NHL Seattle

No income tax in Washington will help Seattle's NHL team, general manager says

Seattle's new NHL team formally introduced Hall of Famer Ron Francis Thursday as the general manager of the expansion team.

Francis won the Stanley Cup as a player for Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992. More recently he was the general manager for the Carolina Hurricanes for four seasons.

Speaking at a news conference at Seattle Center on Thursday, Francis said his goal is to help create a world class organization and a successful team. And he said Washington state’s lack of income tax will help.

“I think we'll [NHL Seattle] be one of only six teams in the entire league that has no state income tax. So that's going to be appealing for players to want to come and play here. And I think when you put everything together and see what the ownership group and [team president] Tod [Leiweke] want to build here, people are going to want to play here and that's going to help us."

Sidenote: the City of Seattle has passed a 2.25 percent tax on individuals who earn more than $250-thousand and on married couples who make more than $500-thousand, but that tax is being challenged in court.

Back to hockey, as general manager Francis will be in charge of the team’s hockey operations, including player personnel, coaching staff, scouting and analytics.

He said his first job will be honing the roles for all of the departments and doing a lot of hiring. He said Seattle is an excellent market for hockey, noting how there’s already a wait list for season tickets.

Francis praised the ownership group for how it’s building the organization with an eye toward growing the popularity of hockey--and doing things such as building additional ice rinks that the public can use at the team’s practice facility.

Francis seemed to acknowledge that Seattle’s hockey fan base will have high expectations. The most recent expansion team to take the ice, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, went to the Stanley Cup finals in their first season.

"I used to joke you want to be the second GM in Seattle based on what Vegas did. But I think this is an awesome opportunity we've got some time here to get our scouts together and get our homework done," he said.

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