As of this morning, Seattle’s National Hockey League franchise officially has a name: The Kraken. Through what Seattle NHL officials have called methodical process of elimination, the franchise settled on the mythical sea creature for the team name as opposed to alternatives like Sockeye, Steelhead, or Totems.
The team also unveiled a logo and jersey design to go with the name.
“We’ve heard from tens and tens of thousands of fans, and we’ve spent two years listening,” CEO Tod Leiweke said in a statement.
“Every day for the past two years, we’ve thought about this moment, and we knew if we did listen, we couldn’t go wrong — that we would be in a position, if we simply listened, to build that next great team brand.”
“They listened to the fans,” General Manager Ron Francis said. “They did forums. They did polls. They did events. They worked within the team and our leadership and the NHL and local artists and naming experts and historians and everybody else to kind of get where they wanted to get to and get the logo drawn up.”
“At the end of the day, the Kraken consistently rose to the top.”
Team officials also teased the future gameday experience:
Our arena [the renovated Seattle Center Coliseum] will be feared. An iconic roof standing nobly against the Olympic Mountains, yet beneath awaits danger…The subterranean lair of the Seattle Kraken.
Our lair will be a hostile venue for opposing teams and will deliver the best home ice advantage in the league. Our city will show up strong and release their inner beasts for every game. With dynamic sightlines and a steep bowl, our fans will be on top of the ice.
Unique game presentation will dimension the Kraken brand from dueling scoreboards to a distinctive live organ.
On ice imaging will transition elegance to mayhem.
Our music will be crafted by KEXP, and ocean fog will flow through the tunnels as our players take the ice. The sounds of our city and epic tales of the sea will bring the legend of the Kraken to life.
Welcome home, Seattle hockey fans.
It is with pride that we will wear the ‘S’ inside of this building from opening day to the end of time.
Most of Seattle’s other pro sports teams also have ocean themes and they have responded with great enthusiasm to the Kraken rollout.
The Mariners are the city’s MLB franchise, the Sounders its MLS (previously NWSL) franchise, and the Seahawks its NFL franchise. The WNBA’s Storm and the stolen Sonics franchise, on the other hand, have more atmospheric themes.
The franchise pointed out on its new website that Puget Sound is home to a species of octopus that’s really big… the biggest in the world.
Emphasis is theirs: “The largest octopus on planet Earth lives right here in Puget Sound. The Giant Pacific Octopus lurks in the deep around Seattle. According to Tacoma legend, they inhabit the ruins of collapsed bridge “Galloping Gertie” with the infamous “King Octopus.” National Geographic notes the biggest on record at 30 ft wide and over 600 lbs. If you encountered that in the depths of our Sound, you’d tell tales of one thing…You just saw the Kraken.”
The highly anticipated rollout came at 9 AM Pacific and immediately caught the attention of the mass media on the other coast and down in California.
It wasn’t long before ESPN’s top headline was “Seattle Kraken to take the ice in 2021–22 NHL season”. The New York Times has a story. So does CBS. And CNN. And The Los Angeles Times. And The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Daniel Snyder’s NFL ownership group announced that the Washington, D.C. [American] football team would be known as… the Washington football team for the 2020 season. Wow… what a name! That’s what I’ve been calling the franchise for years now. If they had been working on a new name before the George Floyd protests, they’d have been ready to make a change.
They weren’t ready because Snyder was arrogant enough to think he could get away with refusing to change the old name (which I will not repeat here).
J.J. Regan seized on this tale of two cities theme to write a column for NBC Sports contrasting the two announcements (NHL Seattle’s and Snyder’s).
“One team released a cool new name and logo for its fans while Washington’s team kicked the can down the road. It is reasonable for Washington not to rush the process of renaming what was once a beloved NFL franchise, but maybe don’t do it at the exact same time another professional sports team is releasing its actual name, especially when it’s as awesome as Seattle’s.”
“Use whatever analogy you want. This was a home run/touchdown/goal/slam dunk for Seattle. You may not like the logo or name all that much and that’s OK. Personally, I think it’s awesome, but there is no logo, name, design, jersey, etc. that will have one hundred percent approval. If you don’t like it, that’s OK, but the way the entire process was handled makes this a huge win for Seattle.”
Regan is right that not every NHL Seattle fan will be thrilled with the logo, colors, and team name. It’s just not possible to please everyone. If you ask me, they did a great job. I’m sure the name will grow on those who had their hearts set on Sockeye or Steelhead or Totems. Kraken is a compelling name. It’s unconventional and fun. It’s also a name that a section of the fan base was clamoring for.
That group of fans is undoubtedly over the moon today.
Kraken is also a brand of rum, and Seattle’s NHL franchise has (very logically) struck a deal with its owner to share the trademark and make the Kraken brand of rum an official beverage of the Kraken franchise.
On behalf of NPI, congratulations to the Kraken on choosing an identity! Best wishes as you prepare for your inaugural season in 2021–2022.