NHL Column: Seattle Welcomes the NHL

Gov. Jay Inslee, center left, tosses a chunk of frozen sand as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan looks on from his left and former Seattle SuperSonics head coach Lenny Wilkens stands on his right with other officials during a ceremonial groundbreaking of a renovation of the arena at Seattle Center Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Seattle. The NHL Board of Governors gave final approval to Seattle's bid to add the hockey league's 32nd team a day earlier and play is expected to begin at the arena in 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle. It is the home of Starbucks, Amazon, rainy days, grunge and a space needle. And now, it is home to hockey. The NHL approved the city’s bid for an expansion team on Tuesday, officially signaling the arrival of the leagues’ 32nd franchise. The puck is set to drop for the city at the start of the 2021-22 season.  

 The return of winter sports to Seattle fills the void left by the departure of the former NBA team, the Sonics. At last, sports fans in the city can relinquish the loneliness that winter brings.  

 With the arrival of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in 2017, it was only a matter of time before the league evened out the number of teams to 32. While it may be impossible to duplicate the success Vegas had in its first season, the future looks bright for Seattle.  

 The organization secured 10,000 season ticket deposits in just 12 minutes during its ticket drive back in the spring. They wanted to gauge people’s interest, and they were blown away by the results. With that, they were well on their way to their official entry.  

 The team’s approval on Tuesday signaled for certain that there will be hockey in the city soon. The rest is up for dreaming. The players, team name, logos and colors will all become evident gradually over the next two and a half years.  

 First up on the checklist is selecting the team name that will define the franchise forever. How they will go about choosing their brand is still unknown, but various names have been rumored. Here are some of the ways that they can go:  

 Coffee, Coffee, Coffee  

 Seattle is famous for the vital liquid, with coffee houses and Starbucks filling the streets with caffeine. But would they really turn their love for coffee into a team name? Probably not, but people have made a couple of clever suggestions.  

 “Grinders” has been thrown around as it toys between coffee and a common hockey term. But really, the term sounds awkward for a team name, not to mention its association with drug paraphernalia. But hey, Washington was one of the first states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis back in 2012. Really, it is not a good idea. All I think of when I hear the name is Connecticut's silly nickname for sub sandwiches.  

 Some pun enthusiasts have cleverly thought of the name “Starpucks” in reference to the powerful coffee chain that originated in the city. They could even make some sponsorship dollars off of the name. Look at the New York Red Bulls from the MLS for example who use the popular energy drink as its team name.  

 Of course, Seattle fans are still bitter about the fact that Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz, sold the Sonics away to Oklahoma City. They certainly will not want any association with this enemy figure. Besides, many people from Seattle stay away from chain coffee brands, choosing coffee houses for “real” coffee instead.  

 Creatures  

 The “Kraken” has become one of the more popular options for a team. It would give them a unique look that is not replicated anywhere throughout sports. This also gives them the ability to really get creative when designing logos and jerseys. The mayor of Seattle has also expressed excitement over this name, stirring gossip that this could be the one. Any team name without an “s” at the end seems to have a special ring to it too.   

 “Sasquatches” could be a possibility as well, with the mysterious creature being a legends’ tale for the state of Washington. This one would be reminiscent of the New Jersey Devils name, as the name pays tribute to the state’s mythical tales.  

 Some of the other ideas include Sea Lions, Seals and Firebirds. These would provide the franchise’s marketing team flexibility, and still give them some originality.  

 Historical  

 The “Metropolitans” were the first ever professional hockey team to play in Seattle, playing in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915-1924. They also became the first ever American team to win the Stanley Cup in 1917. Might they pay homage to hockey history in the city? 

 “Totems” seems to be popular among new fans too, paying recognition to the Native Americans that settled in the northwest. The name has a ring to it, but they may try to avoid it as it could be considered offensive. The organization could fear being associated with criticism of names like the Washington Redskins, Chicago Blackhawks and Cleveland Indians. The name seems to be on the right side of this boundary, but still, they might go in another direction. Nonetheless, Totems has been a popular selection in various polls.  

 Geographical  

 Fishing is huge in Seattle and Washington state, so will they try to reference some of the region’s sea life? “Sockeyes” and “Steelheads,” which are native trout and salmon, respectively, are among favorites to become the nickname of sports’ newest team. Each flows nicely with a smooth alliteration. Its touch on Seattle’s identity makes them fitting choices.  

  Known as the emerald city, “Emeralds” has been discussed along with “Evergreens,” which represents the state’s forests. These names would be defined by the green color that goes with the city of Seattle, but could make for a bland logo.  

 The minds behind the Seattle operation have some thinking to do with so many choices that go beyond the ones mentioned here. Regardless of their selection, the arrival of the new franchise is an exciting moment in the city’s and hockey’s history.  


Dylan Barrett is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at dylan.barrett@uconn.edu.