10 Potential Names for a New Seattle NHL Franchise

This article was originally published here at THW in December 2014.

We look at some options for new Seattle NHL team names, a more difficult task than days gone by.

Sports back in Grandpa’s heyday were so much easier than they are today. Case in point: team monikers.

Back then, franchise names were so simple, so logical that they rolled right off the tongue. The NFL started with foundational teams such as the Bears, Packers and Cardinals; baseball began with franchises like the Reds, Pirates and Braves. Even basketball had simple, easily digestible initial team nicknames like Celtics, Warriors and Pistons.

Certainly, there were the occasional ones explained only by the bygone anachronisms of yesteryear such as the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers and the Philadelphia Sphas (“Spha” stood for South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, with its players primarily Jewish). For the most part, however, the names just made sense.

Hockey was no different. The NHL’s ‘Original Six’ consisted of the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. One might debate the intimidation factor of a Maple Leaf, but as a nickname, it was unambiguous.

Related: Complete History of the Boston Bruins Logo

Fast forward into the modern era and marketing has intertwined itself into the process. Form has become just as important as functionality. Non-pluralized monikers such as Lightning and Wild were coined, and still other nicknames came from natural disasters or bad Disney movies. An expansion team today could very well end up with a moniker that Grandpa wouldn’t have dreamed of back when he was buying penny candies at the five and dime store.

Seattle’s NHL hopes

The Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917 (Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons).
The Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917 (Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons).

Grandpa wouldn’t remember that Seattle once had a franchise that won the Stanley Cup in 1917, but his father would. Although the team was disbanded in 1924, they remain the high point of a long legacy of hockey in the Emerald City, one which supporters hope rekindle in a few years if and when the NHL chooses to expand.

I’ve addressed this subject previously here at The Hockey Writers. Early this year, it appeared that an announcement regarding expansion to Seattle was impending. Months later, news leaked that the Phoenix Coyotes came within an eyelash of moving to Seattle back in 2013.

It’s common knowledge that Gary Bettman has met with Seattle city officials on the matter. Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times has written about a proposed new expansion team many times, as have other local and national scribes.

Ed. note – This post is obviously an archive piece, and the Seattle ???? have been founded and set to take part in the Expansion Draft next year and start playing in the 2021-22 season.

NHL Seattle franchise announcement
Adrian Hanauer, NHL Seattle franchise Vice-Chairman David Wright, Jay Deutsch, Jerry Bruckheimer, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL Seattle franchise majority owner David Bonderman, Len Potter, and NHL Seattle franchise President and CEO Tod Leiweke pose for a photo during the NHL Board of Governors Meeting on December 4, 2018 in Sea Island, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Seattle Emeralds

Consider the marketing angles with this one. The Emerald City, neatly symbolized by a glittering green stone, with themes of class and wealth juxtaposed into a chaotic, rough-and-tumble on-ice battle. Someone like Ben Bridge Jewelers would probably jump at the chance to be a major sponsor of a Seattle Emeralds franchise.

Emeralds aren’t going to tear your head off, but intimidating names went all but went by the wayside a long time ago. Disney cinched it with the Mighty Ducks.

Seattle Steelheads

Washington designated the steelhead trout as the state’s official fish back in 1969. Fish names aren’t exactly my thing, but the state is known for its fishing industry, and it has a certain slimy ring to it.

Seattle Tsunami

I like this one. Tsunamis don’t often hit Washington’s coast (every 300-600 years), but when they do, they are both powerful and relentless.

These days, marketing types seem to enjoy non-pluralized team names, so it’s got that going for it as well.

Seattle Thunder

Although it doesn’t rain as much as people think here in Seattle, this is the first of two names that pay homage to the meteorological reputation of the area. It’s also got that non-pluralized thing going for it. Consider this: when a Seattle goal is scored, a huge, rumbling sound could reverberate throughout the arena. Wouldn’t that be cool?

seattle nhl team names Totems
The Totems had a long history in Seattle, even defeating one of the Soviet Red Army teams in 1974.

I know what you’re thinking: the moniker should be a non-starter because of what happened to the Sonics. I disagree, preferring to think of it as a blatant middle finger to Clay Bennett and Oklahoma City.

Seattle Sasquatch

Speaking of the Sonics, their former mascot was Squatch. With Bigfoot a part of the Northwest’s lore and Squatch a previous crowd-pleaser at Sonics games, having him back (and on skates, no less) would be both topical and nostalgic.

It might even be another version of a middle finger to Oklahoma City. I’m not bitter at all. Really.

Seattle Rain

This is the second weather-related option. With the Seattle Storm of the WNBA and the Seattle Reign of the NWSL, having three team names paying homage to the weather — two with identical pronunciation, no less — would make things both fun and confusing, especially for area sportswriters.

There are lots of rain-related songs that could be piped over the loudspeakers to pump up the crowd. Just don’t include It’s Raining Men on the playlist.

Seattle Breakers

It’s simple, clean and has plenty of marketing possibilities. The Seattle Thunderbirds were once called the Breakers, so there’s history there as well. It’s one of the only names that references the area’s watery geography.

Seattle Shield

Like the Breakers, it’s simple. Better still, it’s unique. Name another sports team with that nickname. Given that goaltending can literally steal hockey games, it has lots of down-the-road possibilities, once the team improved from being initially horrible and became somewhat respectable.

Seattle Totems

This one appears to be a fan favorite. The Seattle Totems were once a professional team in the area, so there are long roots with the name.

Pop quiz, hot shot: name one of the professional American teams that played the Soviet Red Army team? That’s right, the Totems actually played them twice, losing 9-4 in 1972 but winning 8-4 two years later.

It’s not one of my favorites, but given the historical significance, it’s one of the names that has a solid chance of being chosen.

Seattle Metropolitans

Seattle's Stanley Cup winning Metropolitan franchise
Seattle’s Stanley Cup winning Metropolitan franchise folded in 1924.

And this is another one of the names with a very good chance of winning. After all, the Metropolitans were the first American team to claim the Stanley Cup. What more significant historical accomplishment could possibly be honored by a name?

More and more, Thunder is growing on me, but I still believe the best choice amongst the various team names mentioned is the Metropolitans. There’s just way too many marketing possibilities to ignore, including all sorts of cool retro options.

What are your thoughts? Do you like any of these names, or do you have other suggestions? Feel free to discuss below.

This article was originally published here at THW in December 2014.

32 thoughts on “10 Potential Names for a New Seattle NHL Franchise”

  1. I remember as a young boy watching my omaha knights(Atlanta Flames) play the Seattle Totems. I’d get to know the radio announcers and they’d bring me back pucks and stickers and cool kid stuff. Did it to all the teams in the old CHL! Denver spurs, dallas Blackhawks,Albuquerque six guns Oklahoma city Blazers,Tulsa oilers. I must have drove them guys nuts. But they were always great guys to me. So my vote definitely goes to the TOTEMS! Still got one of their puck in my collection!

  2. A few names came to mind…

    Seattle Thunderbirds (just give the NHL team this name and the current WHA team the Totems nameplate)
    Seattle Surge
    Seattle Rainiers (old PCL baseball team name from years ago)
    Seattle Sockeyes
    Seattle Orcas (ask the Canucks permission to use their current logo so the ‘Nucks can go to the stick and rink and Johnny Canuck logos full time)

  3. Back in 1975-76 when i lived in San Francisco the Seals were the nhl team that was going to head to Seattle, but Mel Swig who own the team for only a year wanted to have a new stadium build in SF. When that fell through he moved the team to Cleveland (ill fated) and lasted only 2 years there, they merge with Minnesota North Stars who would then move to Dallas to be known as the Stars. I’ve alway thought Seattle would be a good NHL market, not sure why the NHL does not think so? Good Luck hope to see you soon.

  4. Seattle Bandwagons would work. MLS brought fans to Seattle after they were playing in a tiny park with more away fans than home. Thunderbirds do not have great attendance, so I am sure the bandwagon Seattle fans will show up for the NHL.

  5. Back in 1974 when the NHL conditionally awarded an expansion franchise to the owner of the Seattle Totems of the WHL for the 1976-1977 NHL season (along with Denver), the owner planned to continue the use of the name. The problem was that a number of NHL franchises were in shaky shape financially due to the WHA and the league asked that the potential owners in both Seattle and Denver to buy an existing franchise and relocate it. The K.C. Scouts were sold and relocated to Denver and attempts to acquire a franchise and relocate it to Seattle never came to fruition and the NHL pulled the plug on Seattle.

  6. Thunder, meh. NHL already has Lightning and Hurricane’s. Might as well go with the Temperate zones.
    Just call the team Starbucks and be done with it. You get Bucks for short. With no relation to an animal, but to the dozens of large and profitable industries of Washington state. And I agree, just make the west have that same amount of teams as the east and it must include Seattle. When I heard the NHL is higher on Vegas that Washington my heart dropped a bit. But I’m moving from SoCal to New Mexico, 4 hour drive for any live NHL hockey. So that sucks. GKG

  7. Seattle Rain? Seattle Shield? Do you really want a NHL team with a name that sounds like it’s an Arena Football or minor league indoor soccer team?

    Tsunami is the best of the new, but the Totems and Metropolitans have history on their side. The Senators have “their” Stanley Cup banners from the 20’s in their arena and so could the Mets. The Totems logo is attractive and the name is the one over 40 people associate with hockey.

  8. Not big on works of nature that can prove deadly (Tsunami, Thunder (well, via lightning)). But yes, the Thunder also annoy because of the crooks in OKC.

    As you noted, we’ve already got the Reign, so no more Rain.

    Steelheads have some history as a local sports name, as that was used by the Seattle team in the short lived West Coast Negro Baseball League.

    Metropolitans is tough, with the unique history we all appreciate, yet more widely known for the baseball franchise in Queens.

    1. Totems – some nice local history, unique name even at the major league level. Sort of local hockey’s version of the Rainiers. So some argue the Pilots and Mariners were wrong from the start. Speaking of…
    2. Pilots – Homage to our long lost MLB franchise. Works when referencing the sea or air. The reverse of how the Rockies name was used in Denver.
    3. Metropolitans
    4. Mountaineers – kind of long, but we are surrounded by mountains, with a lot of avid climbers.

    Let’s hope this naming debate becomes a “problem” to solve sooner than later. And yes, I’d hope our Portland rivals go with Buckaroos. Respect history.

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