What’s in a name? When it comes to professional sports teams, not much, provided it isn’t offensive to or doesn’t make light of any particular group of people.
Over the course of history, major league sports teams have failed for a variety of reasons — a lack of money, lack of fan interest, the arena burned down — but I’ve never heard that a silly name was given as the reason.
So the 19 months of wild speculation that blazed across the Internet — much like future wingers and centers of Seattle’s NHL franchise will on the ice — never held my attention for long. Name the team and move on, I say.
Last week, the Seattle franchise did just that. Our hockey team will be called the Kraken.
Reaction was mixed, but the reaction to just about anything these days is mixed. It wasn’t my first choice, but I think it’s a good choice. I was holding out for a revival of the Metropolitans name due to its history — for those who don’t know, Seattle was the first U.S. city to win the Stanley Cup back in 1917, a year before the modern National Hockey League was formed. The Metropolitans had another shot to win it in 1919, but that series was wiped out by a flu outbreak.
In a league that has not one, but two teams named after natural disasters, perhaps the most vague name in sports history (The Minnesota Wild) and a historic franchise with a grammatically incorrect name — I never could figure out why it’s the Maple Leafs and not the Maple Leaves — there was certainly a little room for Seattle to be a little quirky.
So the Kraken it is. It’s appropriate given the Puget Sound region’s deep ties to the sea and maritime culture, and it’s something different; I think the logo that goes with it is one of the best in any sport.
And you can’t help but love the way they introduced the name.
It started with a video featuring the Kimmel family of Poulsbo out on a fishing expedition. As they look through their haul, they discover a red light (used to signify a goal in hockey) in the nets and hear the sound of a horn from the ferry, possibly alluding to Seattle’s future goal horn sound. It’s pretty cool that a local family will forever be associated with that moment.
That clip preceded the one released the following day, which officially announced the name. Shot in blue hues, it captures the dark, stormy Seattle nights and the foreboding of a mythical sea creature lingering in the water.
It’s just a name announcement, but it showed a level of care and an eye for detail that fans should hope will carry over to the on-ice product when the team begins play in 2021.
The much more exciting news still lies ahead. The NHL kicks off its expanded playoff this weekend to finish up the 2019-20 season, and the plan after that is to break for a few months and return with a shortened 2020-21 regular season in December. That would put the league back on track and set the stage for an expansion draft and the regular entry draft, which should both take place in June.
NBC and its cable outlet NBC Sports will have wall-to-wall coverage of the playoffs, so if you tune in, you may get to see a few players who might suit up in deep sea blue for Seattle next fall.