Waiting for Sonics’ return, but ready to embrace NHL in meantime
The NHL is clearly coming to Seattle. An NHL expansion team will play in whatever the next version of KeyArena will be called. Since I’m 60 and have lived here pretty much my whole life, I can vaguely remember when the original Coliseum that turned into KeyArena was built in 1962 as part of the World’s Fair.
Like other Sonics’ fans, I was pushing for Chris Hansen’s SoDo project, believing it was the best place to put an arena and the quickest option for the return of the NBA. While Hansen’s new arena was being built, the Sonics could have used KeyArena as an interim home.
But since the city bent over backwards for the Oak View Group, the $660 million KeyArena renovation project is now the only bet to get an NHL and NBA team in a multi-use facility. I’m mostly on board but still feel like the city spat in Hansen’s face.
Reluctantly moving on, I’m looking forward to the NHL being here for the 2020-21 season and expecting the Sonics to play their first or 42nd season, depending on your point of view, in 2021-22. No one has told me as much, I just think that even if the NBA wants to return in 2021-22, Seattle’s NHL owners will want to have the city’s winter sports calendar to themselves in their inaugural season.
I’m much more interested in the Sonics’ return, but in the meantime, I’m going to try to embrace this hockey thing in a way that I’ve never embraced the soccer thing. I keep hearing that NHL games in person are so much better than NHL games on TV, and I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been to an NHL game. That will change in 2021 when the new team arrives with justifiable fanfare.
Typically you’d expect an expansion team to struggle for several years, but the novelty of the new team would still generate plenty of fan interest early on. Not with the NHL.
The Vegas Golden Knights are an expansion team this year and because of an NHL expansion draft that was first-year friendly, they have the best record in the league at 39-15-4. Existing NHL teams had the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and a goalie. I’m guessing the existing teams weren’t happy about those rules, but if the same rules are in place in 2021, expect Seattle to be a contender right away.
So when forecasting what the first season will be like, I love that part of it. In 1967-68, that wasn’t the case with the SuperSonics, who finished their first season with a 23-59 record.
Until I read “Hockey for Dummies,” a book that someone sent me a few years ago, to get a better understanding of the game, I will look forward to the fights more than the games themselves, when players take off their gloves and exchange punches like boxers in a ring. Great entertainment, but I’ve never understood why it’s allowed. Seems crazy on many levels, yet NHL referees always seem to take their sweet time breaking up fights when they break out.
Reportedly on March 1, season-ticket deposits will be taken with the hope for 14,000 commitments. With the interest in the minor-league Silvertips in Everett and Thunderbirds in Seattle and Kent, I’m guessing the goal will be easily reached. But I admit to being curious about the NHL long-term in Seattle since the average ticket price league-wide is $73. Maybe that won’t be a problem, but if you want to take a family of four to a game, you’re talking $300 to $400 after parking and concessions.
Sometime between now and 2020, a name will be chosen for the new NHL team, and it’s already off to an interesting start after the Oak View Group registered 38 Internet domain names. I have no idea how they came up with the 13 possible names for the team, but here they are:
Cougars, Eagles, Emeralds, Evergreens, Firebirds, Kraken, Rainiers, Renegades, Sea Lions, Seals, Sockeyes, Totems and Whales.
I would think they’d want fan input, and maybe that’s in the plans. They probably won’t ask for sports-talk radio guy input, but I have thoughts on the new name anyway.
First off, how in the world did Cougars and Rainiers even make the list? The Cougars are always identified with Washington State around here, and I’m not about to say “Go Cougs” when it comes to a hockey team. The Rainiers used to be a minor-league team in Seattle and are now a minor-league team in Tacoma.
Most of the rest are fine by me. The ocean-related names of Sea Lions, Seals, Sockeyes and Whales…I could get used to all of them. Eagles, Emeralds, Evergreens and Renegades? Those would fine by me too. Firebirds, not so much because it’s too close to the Thunderbirds.
Totems are my second choice, mainly because that was Seattle’s minor-league hockey team years ago when I was a kid. A throwback to Seattle’s hockey past would be a cool gesture.
But my top choice, and I can’t believe I’m going with this, yet I am: The Seattle Kraken. Calling the new hockey team the Seattle Kraken makes no sense and complete sense at the same time. No team in any sport anywhere has ever been called the Kraken. Naturally, I could be wrong about this because my research isn’t always the best.
From what I’ve gathered, a “kraken” is a legendary sea monster off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. Or it could be related to an octopus. It’s also a U.S. based cryptocurrency exchange.
It’s best known, however, from the movie “Clash of the Titans” when Zeus the Greek God orders his men to “Release the Kraken!” Apparently this is a meme that I know little about, a spoof of sorts, and I can picture that scene playing on the video board when the hockey team is introduced.
There’s also a local angle with Microsoft releasing an action-adventure video game next month called “Sea of Thieves” in which kraken are somehow involved as sea creatures.
When it gets down to the final stages of picking a name, there will be all kinds of opposition to Kraken because you could argue it’s the dumbest option of all. You’ll either love it or hate it, and that’s what makes it appealing – there’s nothing vanilla about it, and Seattle will be the talk of the NHL world thanks to its unique name.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for 710Sports.com. You can reach Jim at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo. He appears weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on “Danny, Dave and Moore” on 710 ESPN Seattle.