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NHL Seattle could unveil team name during social distancing period

The NHL Seattle franchise will begin play during the 2021-22 season. (AP)

The sports world has come to a screeching halt aside from NFL free agency due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, and here in the Pacific Northwest, something that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle sports-wise is when we’ll see the announcement of the NHL Seattle team name.

More NHL Seattle news here

Back in December, Dan Rosen of NHL.com reported that NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said an announcement on the team name was likely to occur in February or March of 2020. That echoed what NHL Seattle general manager Ron Francis said in November.

But February has passed and we’re past the mid-way point of March and no announcement has been made, though that could soon change.

According to Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.com, the NHL Seattle franchise has said that even with the state of Washington in a “social distancing” period to try and limit the impact and spread of the coronavirus, the announcement of Seattle’s next professional franchise’s name could still happen in the near future as long as the team gets through various legal hoops.

“The team told ESPN that it is still going through the name and logo trademarking process with the NHL, ensuring that it won’t have the same obstacles the Vegas expansion team did in trying to secure exclusivity on ‘Golden Knights,'” Wyshynski said in his story. “There was no date determined to reveal the name, logo and colors for the team before the global outbreak, nor was there a public event scheduled for the reveal.”

Wyshynski got a statement from NHL Seattle’s vice president of corporate communications Katie Townsend, who said that there’s a chance that the coronavirus won’t have any impact on the team unveiling the name.

“In theory, coronavirus will not delay our name and will not affect it, but we’re in unprecedented times. So I can’t say that as soon as the legal process is wrapped up that we’ll go with the name,” said Townsend. “We’re working as hard as we can. We know how badly our fans want it.”

The Seattle franchise will begin play in the 2021-2022 season at the remodeled Seattle Center. They will be the NHL’s 32nd team.

And while the coronavirus may not be a factor in when the team name is revealed, it has impacted season tickets.

Per Wyshynski, the franchise has been selling seats since the fall with various payment plans, but due to the coronavirus, payments due between April and June have been pushed back to July 1.

Washington has been hit hard by the virus, and many businesses have employees working remotely, have cut their hours or even laid them off. Schools in the state are closed until April 24 at the earliest, and a number of measures in terms of public gatherings have been implemented.

What will the name be?

Earlier this year, John Hoven, who covers the LA Kings for Mayors Manor was interviewed on Sirius XM’s NHL Network Radio and said he expected the team to be named “Kraken” after talking to his sources in the league.

“From everything that I’ve heard, it looks like Seattle Kraken is going to be the name. … I was a little bit in shock personally, just because we had been told several times previously that that was not the name that they were going for,” Maven said per Russian Machine Never Breaks, a website that covers the Washington Capitals.

NHL Seattle issued this statement to 710Sports.com’s Andy Eide, who covers the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds: “At NHL Seattle, we are thrilled by the growing excitement about our team — and we can’t wait to share every detail with our fans. However, we will not be commenting on any rumors. Please check our social channels for more updates.”

Wyshynski wrote a column for ESPN.com earlier this month, listing which team names are most likely.

Per the story, Kraken, Kraken HC (hockey club) and Sockeyes are the “tier 1 favorites.” Below that tier were Sea Lions, Metropolitans and Steelheads. The third tier had Renegades and Totems. And the fourth tier, labeled “wild cards” were Thunderbirds or Firebirds and Emeralds. The final tier, labeled “pipe dreams” were Grunge, Sasquatch and then toungue-in-cheek names of Starbucks, Expansion Franchise and SuperSonics.

Follow 710Sports.com’s Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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