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What will NHL Seattle team name be and could it be announced soon?

A fan holds up stickers denoting the pros and cons of team names for Seattle's NHL team. (AP)

Could NHL Seattle announce its team name soon? Originally, the name was going to be announced last spring, but it got pushed back to the end of 2019 before being delayed once again to February or March.

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Well, it’s mid-May and we still don’t have the name or any announcement of when we can expect to know what Seattle’s newest team will be called, but reports over the last few months indicate that we could be in line to learn that very soon.

Seattle was officially awarded an expansion NHL franchise in 2018. The team will be the NHL’s 32nd team, and it will play in the Western Conference in the Pacific Division. NHL Seattle will play its first season in 2021-2022 at the renovated Seattle Center.

In March, Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.com reported that the organization could announce the team name during “social distancing” amid the coronavirus pandemic. NHL Seattle vice president of corporate communications Katie Townsend told Wyshynski that that was the case.

“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.”

But along with issues regarding the coronavirus, there are legal issues to hammer out any time a new professional franchise begins, such as with trademarks and whatnot. As Townsend noted in Wyshynski’s March article, that was an issue with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and NHL Seattle is hoping to avoid having the same issue.

Wyshynski posted in late-April that the team is “getting close” on the name, colors and logo. He quoted Townsend, who said the organization wanted to be be sensitive to the community due to the coronavirus pandemic. She also said the team is still going through legal matters.

NHL Seattle general manager Ron Francis said in a Twitter video last month that he understands that fans of the franchise are eager to learn the name and that the organization wants to announce the name soon.

“We’re still going through that process with the League, working hard on the trademark and the legal process,” Francis said, according to a story by NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “Trust me when I say it, our people are really working hard, and as soon as we’ve completed it, we’ll look at how our community is doing and when is the right time to announce that name.”

Potential names

In early 2018, the organization registered trademarks for 13 different names, and those names are seen as the likely choices. Those are, in alphabetical order: Cougars, Eagles, Emeralds, Evergreens, Firebirds, Kraken, Rainiers, Renegades, Sea Lions, Seals, Sockeyes, Totems and Whales.

A few of those names are unlikely off the bat.

Those would be the Cougars and Rainiers, as two popular teams in the state both already use those names: The Washington State Cougars and the Tacoma Rainiers, the Seattle Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate. You could even throw Eagles into that category because of the Eastern Washington University Eagles.

The two most popular choices of those 13 appears to be the Kraken and the Sockeyes.

In fact, earlier this year, there was a report that the Kraken was going to be the team name as John Hoven, who covers the Los Angeles Kings for Mayor’s Manor, said on a Sirius XM NHL Network Radio interview that he heard from multiple sources that Kraken was the choice.

“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 a statement to 710Sports.com’s Andy Eide, who covers the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, saying they wouldn’t comment on any rumors.

“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.”

With the Sockeyes, there are some extra hoops to jump through as author Jami Davenport has a series of romance novels surrounding a fictitious hockey team called the Seattle Sockeyes.

She filed for the trademark to the name in 2017, weeks after the NHL granted Seattle permission to pursue an expansion team, which was approved in 2018. The trademark was successful, though it doesn’t necessarily stop a franchise from using the name. She also filed a trademark for Seattle Steelheads, which wasn’t one of the 13 names registered trademarks for in 2018, though the team name doesn’t have to be one of those original 13 names listed.

A name that some have wanted to be considered is Metropolitans, as that was the name of Seattle’s original NHL team from 1915-1924, and who won a Stanley Cup in 1917. An issue with that is in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, one of the divisions is the Metropolitan Division.

Wyshynski wrote a column in early March where he ranked the possible team names, with Kraken, Kraken H.C. (Hockey Club) and Sockeyes falling into his top tier.

With Washington having started re-opening different portions of everyday life, perhaps the NHL Seattle name announcement could be on the horizon. No date or timeframe has been set, and there wasn’t one prior to the coronavirus aside from the organization saying potentially March or April.

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

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