After the success of the Vegas Golden Knights last season, it seemed like only a matter of time before the National Hockey League would expand into another market. Well, after years of waiting and speculation, the league unanimously approved the expansion application for Seattle this week, thus making it the league’s 32nd franchise. Seattle will begin playing at the start of the 2021-22 season and be a member of the Western Conference’s Pacific Division.
For ownership, this new franchise was not cheap, as the NHL charged a $650 million expansion fee – $150 million more than Golden Knights ownership was charged several years ago. Factor in that the team will play at Seattle Center Arena, formerly KeyArena, after a $800 million renovation – which is slated to begin this week – to the almost 60-year-old venue and there’s a lot of money riding on this franchise’s success. But, with news of the franchise official, what will CEO Tod Leiweke and ownership name the team?
Nothing has been officially announced yet, however there’s definitely a front-runner.
Back in October, with the prospect of a Seattle expansion franchise fairly evident, the Seattle Times conducted a little experiment of its own. It selected several different potential nicknames and had the people of Seattle vote on their favorite. After more than 146,000 votes, the winner in the knockout round-styled contest was Seattle Sockeyes, after a fish well known throughout the northwestern part of the country. The problem is, that’s not exactly a nickname associated with hockey, nor does it scream intimidation. The runner up was Seattle Totems, followed by Seattle Metropolitans. If Seattle Metropolitans sounds familiar, that’s because it was the name of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association team based in the Emerald City, which became the first United States team to ever win the Stanley Cup back in 1917, before folding less than a decade later.
Other notables from the newspaper were Seattle Steelheads, Seattle Kraken, Seattle Sasquatch, Seattle Freeze and Seattle Emeralds. We would love to see the logo and uniform options for the Kraken and Sasquatch. Of course, Leiweke and other ownership paid close attention to the contest but he admits this sort of stuff takes time.
“It’s a process of really putting your ear to the track and understanding and hearing what fans feel and believe,” Leiweke told Nicholas J. Cotsonika of NHL.com. “That’s the art form. The science is then bringing in professionals who can take direction and sentiment and begin to apply it to what practically could be a name and a logo that will stand the test of time. And I’m confident we’ll land on the right thing. We want to be deliberate, but we’re not going to rush this to the point we don’t feel great about it.”
With the news, creative fans have flocked to Twitter to drop other nicknames that could potentially be a good fit for Seattle, including the Seattle Skyline, Seattle Snowcaps, Seattle Nighthawks, Seattle Thunderwolves, Seattle Pilots and Seattle Thunder. Some sound like the perfect name for a new Major League Soccer franchise, others just sound like they’re trying to hard to incorporate the essence of the city into the nickname. There are a few good options from all of those previously listed but it looks like we’ll just have to wait and see, though we’re assuming that Seattle Frasiers is not on the table at this time.