How pricey practice pads and locker rooms are reshaping the fight for free agents – [Update News]

Macy’s previously occupied this particular spot at Northgate Station, a mall that has stood in Seattle for more than half a century.

This space today is home to a modern 167,000-square-foot contemporary behemoth. It includes corporate offices, three NHL-sized hockey rinks, and a 5,500-square-foot workout area. There’s also a bar, restaurant, and a full-service bar. An on-site Starbucks is another Seattle landmark.

This is the Kraken Community Iceplex. When they’re not at Climate Pledge Arena, it is their primary home.

Seattle’s planning and prioritization of a top-of-the-line practice facility in its first season highlights a growing trend in the NHL.

The race to build the best facilities for players and staff has evolved from a competition among the richest teams to a necessity for all — a battle to boast the most comfortable lounges, the most convenient locations and the highest tech in sports and medical science. All this is done to retain and attract the best players, strengthen relationships with the communities in which teams play and promote their brands.

The league’s efforts have been noticed by players, agents, and other teams, especially in newer buildings.

“When we had the (Edmonton bubble), other teams got to use our dressing room,” Edmonton Oilers CEO and president Bob Nicholson said. “I know how impressed players and teams were when they saw it. Daryl Katz, owner of the Oilers made the facility special for fans. He wanted players to enjoy the dressing room. It’s not just for practice or training; it’s also to have fun.