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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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