Seattle's future NHL franchise name possibilities, ranked from Cougars to Kraken
Seattle is shouting from the Space Needle about bringing an NHL expansion team to town.
The inevitable marriage between the league and the Pacific Northwest's biggest, bustling metropolis is hockey's worst-kept secret. KeyArena, renovated and retrofitted to NHL specifications, will be ready by 2020. An ownership group fronted by longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke and Hollywood bigshot Jerry Bruckheimer made its multimillion dollar down payment. And more than 30,000 from the region's dormant hockey fanbase forked over hundreds of dollars to get in line for season tickets.
As we await the formality of announcing the NHL's 32nd franchise, about the only question left to answer is: What should we call it?
In January, the website DetroitHocket.net revealed online domains for 13 prospective team nicknames had been registered in the name of an attorney with Oak View Group. It's far from a definitive list. David Bonderman told Sports Illustrated the OVG has pursued trademarks to more than three dozen nickname possibilities. There will be any number of complicated hurdles (just ask the Golden Knights) before arriving at the ultra-important branding decision.
But if nothing else, the list of 13 offered a first glimpse into the process and allowed the Internet to have its say. You can even bet on it.
Working off that list, Sporting News carried out its civic duty ranking all 13 possibilities. Many are boring, so it's easy to pick the standouts. You're welcome, OVG.
You'll notice a few of the popular suggestions such as Sasquatch, Metropolitans, Thunderbirds and Thunder (lol) aren't included. Again, that doesn't necessarily mean all hope is lost for the 'Squatch movement and those like it, but we'll leave them out for the purpose of this exercise.
13. Seattle Cougars
What's that? The umpteenth logo of a big cat in pro sports? Is it any different from the Florida Panthers? We're not sold. Too high school varsity.
12. Seattle Whales
"Whales" is a half-hearted reincarnation of the Hartford Whalers, thereby tarnishing the best logo in professional sports history. We can't stand for that. Anything else is too similar to the orca worn by the future rival Canucks. Besides, the NWHL might take issue with such a trademark.
11. Seattle Evergreens
The Stanford Tree might be the worst mascot in sports. Not a precedent the NHL wants to follow. There's only so many ways one can get creative with a tree-based nickname.
10. Seattle Eagles
Originality is the most important criteria here. There's already too many nickname crossovers in North American pro sports, and this one belongs to the Super Bowl champions. Next.
9. Seattle Sockeyes
Sockeye salmon is a popular catch throughout the state of Washington, so give it a few points for local flair. Then again, it's a fish, and not even the state's official fish. Such an honor belongs to the steelhead trout. Steelheads would make more sense if they could wrestle the name away from ECHL Idaho.
8. Seattle Seals
A retro spinoff from the California Golden Seals isn't the worst idea. Those jerseys were pretty sweet. But while seals aren't always the cute, friendly sea creatures we'd like them to be, they hardly strike fear into the hearts of opponents. Nah.
7. Seattle Sea Lions
If a seal won't cut it, neither will a sea lion. What's the difference anyway? To conclude the alliterative portion of this exercise, let it be known: Just because it rolls off the tongue doesn't mean it's a good idea.
6. Seattle Firebirds
When one thinks Seattle, fire isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind. That said, it leaves a lot of creative leeway for logo possibilities and jersey concept, as long as you avoid similarities to the Flames and a certain Pokemon. Done right, they'd look pretty cool — and would become the only Firebirds in U.S. pro sports. Could be worse.
5. Seattle Rainiers
It's a solid concept paying homage to one of the tallest mountains in the continental United States. Mount Rainier is as much a part of the Seattle cityscape as the Space Needle. All of this is fine and good, except the NHL already has one franchise that incorporates mountainous snowcaps into its logo. It probably doesn't need another. Also, the Mariners' Triple-A baseball affiliate in nearby Tacoma goes by the same name.
4. Seattle Renegades
Something about "Renegades" feels forced. Not helping the cause is the fact we can't erase that X Ambassadors song from our brains. But, hey, at least you're starting off with a goal song and an obvious sponsorship from Jeep, both of which undoubtedly will lead to favorable Yelp reviews from the regional hipster contingent. That's not nothing.
3. Seattle Totems
The Totems harken fondly to the second golden era in Seattle hockey culture. The minor-league pro franchise dominated the first iteration of the Western Hockey League, winning three championships from 1958-68. Adopting such a winning legacy isn't the worst way to start a franchise. Their logo was cool, it honors Native American heritage in the Pacific Northwest and lends itself well to a modern adaptation. What's not to like?
2. Seattle Emeralds
The Emerald City gets its name from the region's vast swaths of foliage, growing freely from all that rain. Green is Seattle. Seattle is green. Not to mention, the emerald jewel is majestic, known as a symbol for rebirth and healing. Fitting, considering the success of this NHL franchise likely will lead to the return of the NBA. Not to mention endless "Wizard of Oz" references. The color scheme would have to differ from the Stars and Wild, of course, but it's hard to think of a name that better captures the essence of the city, if that's the goal.
1. Seattle Kraken
Close your eyes and imagine: Home sweaters with an emerald green and ink black color scheme. On the crest, a giant squid engulfs a 15th century ship, sails and all. "Release the Kraken!" comes over the public address to key player intros. There is nothing else like it in sports. As long as the rum company signs off ...