With the Houston Rockets now for sale, the possibility arises that the NHL could again look at that market. The Rockets owner remained unwilling to consider sharing the arena on any terms that would have been acceptable to NHL partners throughout his ownership of the franchise (though minor league hockey was played there). And during his ownership reign, the NHL continued its sun belt market focused strategy. It’s fair to conclude that given Houston’s size, wealth and location, the city would have appeared near the top of the list with a more welcoming arena partner.
Houston’s strengths as a market still apply, which could impact Seattle’s NHL hopes. The Toyota Center is NHL ready, a franchise there could be placed in either conference, or allow another Central time zone club to switch conferences. That lessens the need for Seattle as an addition to the shorthanded Western Conference. It probably also helps to have a ready made rival nearby in the Dallas Stars. And Houston has a surprisingly robust hockey history, ranging from the WHL to various minor league teams.
This all goes to show that those who claim to want a modern arena developed within Seattle, along with their involvement in the excruciatingly slow process, best get moving. Events far from here, and outside local politicos reach, can have just as much impact in determining whether the city gets to suit up in the NHL or NBA (again) in the future.