The Seattle Kraken are about to start their inaugural season and will share the spotlight with the NHL’s top stories in 2021-22. We don’t yet know how they will perform on the ice, or what the best food item in their arena will be, or what their mascot will look like. That said, these past few weeks — including the Expansion Draft, Entry Draft, and free agency — have given us plenty to look forward to when following the NHL’s newest franchise. From a cutting-edge arena to a franchise player in the making, here are 10 reasons why you should be Seattle Kraken fan.
1. You’re Looking for an NHL Team to Cheer For
This is my most straightforward reason. Maybe you live in Seattle or the greater Pacific Northwest. Maybe your favorite team plays in the Eastern Conference, and you’re looking for a second team to cheer for; for that matter, maybe your favorite team has a history of letting you down, as well. Alternatively, maybe you’re new to following hockey and would like to pick a team that will likely be comprised of many new hockey fans.
Those are all logical justifications for joining forces with the NHL’s 32nd team. You can’t go wrong: there aren’t any franchise stigmas or curses (at least, not yet), the team is technically undefeated, and, as I touch on later, they’re called the freaking Kraken.
2. Seattle Beams with Beauty and Excitement
Nestled along Puget Sound, Seattle stands out as one of the most beautiful cities in the United States and all of North America. It provides stunning views of the majestic Mount Rainier, a picturesque waterfront highlighted by Pike Place Market, and lush greenery on all sides of the sound.
Seattle’s attractions, from fascinating museums, to outdoor activities, to diverse entertainment make for an exciting visit as well. Inside Seattle Center, the home of Climate Pledge Arena, the Museum of Pop Culture features costumes and props from famous films, in addition to guitars shredded by Seattle legends like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. A short walk away, visitors can embark on a whale watching cruise and spot orcas (killer whales) breaching the ocean’s surface. Let’s also not forget the handful of professional and collegiate sports teams in town; I’ll touch on them shortly.
True, Seattle is not without its problems. It has some of the highest rent rates in the country and, somewhat in relation, has struggled managing a homeless population ranked third among major U.S. cities. It also rains frequently, although its total rainfall is less than other large cities such as New York, Boston, and Houston. Nonetheless, it provides a scenic, engaging backdrop for sports and entertainment.
3. The Kraken Will Be Competitive From Day 1
If we were to rewind to 20 or 30 years ago, I would encourage you to stay away from any new team entering the NHL. However, the provisions for expansion franchises are much different today — case in point, the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights.
The Kraken will likely compete for a playoff spot in their first season. They have a stellar one-two punch in net with Philipp Grubauer and 2021 breakout Chris Driedger. They have a strong blue line led by veteran Mark Giordano, in addition to reliable stay-at-homers Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson. In terms of forwards, Seattle offers some of the best depth in their division. They also made a couple of splashes in free agency with Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Wennberg to fortify the top two lines.
The Pacific Division may have become stronger in the offseason with teams like the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings loading up. Nonetheless, when comparing rosters, Seattle already looks like a team that has been building for playoff contention for a handful of years.
4. Seattle Is a Sports Town
Seattleites love their sports and play a significant role in shaping one of the country’s best sports markets. Chief to this group are the Seattle Seahawks diehards, often referred to as the 12s or 12th Fan. Nearly 69,000 of them pack Lumen Field each game and contribute to one of the loudest environments in North American sports. The Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer are another large draw at Lumen Field, attracting over 40,000 per match.
The environments that fans of the Seahawks and Sounders create will likely carry over to the Kraken. On top of that, think of all the celebrities who will come to games and participate in the arena experience; many of them were at the Expansion Draft. Marshawn Lynch, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Sue Bird, Macklemore, and co-majority owner Jerry Bruckheimer could all likely be at a Kraken game this upcoming season.
5. The Kraken Brand
One rarely encounters a professional sports team with a mythical beast as its mascot. Seattle elected to name its franchise after a creature that emerges from the murky depths of the ocean to rip apart ships with its tentacles. This decision alone has likely converted a few thousand new fans; I say that only half-jokingly.
Kraken makes for an excellent Seattle mascot. It speaks to the city’s sea-faring history, comes off as intimidating, and pushes boundaries for team names. The logo is sharp, conveying the creature and its persona without showing it in-full. The “s” shape also fits into a family of Seattle logos that includes the Seattle Mariners and the defunct Seattle SuperSonics.
The team also uses a secondary logo of an anchor — with the tip shaped like the Space Needle. Lastly, the jerseys are a little conservative in their design, but they utilize the brand’s unique color scheme tastefully. All in all, the Kraken have just begun to show how they can build on a distinguished, menacing mascot.
6. Climate Pledge Arena
Climate Pledge Arena is on track to become one of the most cutting-edge venues in not just the NHL but all of North American sports. Among structural features, the facility includes several artistic installations crafted by a group of regional artists. The Kraken have also committed to sourcing 75 percent of food ingredients from a 300-mile radius and have partnered with popular local restaurants & eateries. Additionally, while the arena name is, to be kind, on the nose, the prospect of a net zero-carbon venue will influence current & future sports sites.
The Climate Pledge Arena site is rich with history, dating back to its opening in 1962. The Kraken have repurposed the roof of what was originally called the Washington State Coliseum to fuse the past with the present. A plethora of historic events took place under that roof — from the 1962 World’s Fair, to countless SuperSonics games, to the Seattle Totems’ unprecedented upset of the USSR’s Red Army team in 1974.
Climate Pledge Arena will also likely put on a spectacle with its Kraken fan experience. We have yet to see footage of what the front office is planning, but I’ll leave you with this one; think of the players skating out onto the ice when the public announcer bellows, “It’s time to release the Kraken!”
7. Matthew Beniers, the First Franchise Player
While fans may be satisfied by the current Kraken roster, they have even more to be hopeful for in the near-future. Seattle selected University of Michigan center Matthew Beniers second overall in the 2021 Entry Draft. Beniers possesses perhaps the best two-way skill set of any forward from this year’s draft. Here is what THW’s Matthew Zator had to say about the coveted forward in his draft profile:
“He does almost everything at a high level, including smart and effective defence. He’s basically the ultimate two-way threat in every sense of the word… Combine that with his exceptional mobility, playmaking, work ethic, and goal-scoring instincts, and the NHL might just have the next Jonathan Toews on their hands.”
While his shot and stick-handling might not be at the forefront of his skills, Beniers oozes talent in just about any scenario, solidifying him as a franchise cornerstone for years to come. Seattle will build up its prospect pool over the next couple of years and will benefit from stockpiling additional picks — like the 2023 second-round pick they fetched in exchange for goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
8. Rich Hockey History in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest
The Emerald City may be bringing in its first NHL team, but it has witnessed several historic moments through its teams in various leagues. Seattle was home to the Metropolitans who, despite playing in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, won the 1917 Stanley Cup. The Seattle Totems, mentioned earlier, won three Lester Patrick Cups between 1959 and 1968.
Countless NHL players have come from Seattle-based Western Hockey League (WHL) teams as well. The Seattle Thunderbirds have produced a plethora of NHL talents, including Mathew Barzal, Patrick Marleau, Petr Nedved, and Shea Theodore, among others. Carter Hart, Radko Gudas, Ryan Murray, and Jujhar Khaira are a few notable alumni from the nearby Everett Silvertips.
Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest have birthed a handful of prolific NHL players as well. T.J. Oshie grew up just north of the city in Everett, and in 2018, won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals. In Spokane, located in Eastern Washington, Tyler Johnson helped guide the Spokane Chiefs to the 2008 Memorial Cup. He would go on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and 2021.
9. The Kraken Will Forge Intense Rivalries
As mentioned earlier, the Kraken will compete for a 2022 playoff spot and, in the process, will likely develop animosity with a couple of teams. The first possible rivalry that comes to mind is one with the Vancouver Canucks, who play two and a half hours away. The Canucks are coming off of a disappointing season but, with the additions of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland, will likely battle Seattle for a playoff spot. Add in the re-opening of the US-Canada border, and you will likely see opposing fans on both sides pay a visit to their rival’s arena.
Another likely rivalry will be with the next-newest club, the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas set the bar astronomically high for expansion teams in their first season, both on the ice and financially. One indicator of the Kraken’s success will be how they stack up against an opponent who, despite only being in the league four years, has cemented itself at the top of the division. The Golden Knights have dominated their rivalries against California teams and will likely seek to ignite a new one against a bigger fish (or cephalopod).
Lastly, I could see Seattle bringing some extra sandpaper when facing a California team; after all, California and Washington swap residents fairly frequently and have a bit of a cultural rivalry. The Los Angeles Kings are likely the best team from the Golden State at this point and could compete with Seattle for a playoff spot. Alternatively, something akin to the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers could surface with the Kraken and the San Jose Sharks.
10. Brandon Tanev, the First Fan-Favorite
Just about every NHL team has at least one eccentric, unpredictable personality in its locker room. Marc-Andre Fleury, P.K. Subban, and Brent Burns are just a few shining examples. For the Kraken, look no further than Brandon Tanev.
The 29-year-old forward made a splash at the Expansion Draft by not only donning the Kraken’s crisp away jersey, but also giving the fans some unexpected comedic relief. Expansion Draft co-host Dominic Moore pledged to the crowd, “I promise you, this guy will be one of your fan favorites. He hits everything that moves.” Moore was not kidding, as Tanev has averaged over 273 hits per 82-game season through the course of his career.
Tanev’s, er… interesting headshot then appeared on the event displays, warranting a plethora of chuckles. “I see you’re all laughing at my headshot from last year. I appreciate that,” he remarked.
“What happened just before the picture was taken, Brandon?” asked Expansion Draft co-host Chris Fowler.
“To be honest with you, I saw a ghost, so that’s the story I’m going with and I’m sticking with that one all the way,” the Toronto-native answered candidly.
The Kraken will likely produce several more reasons for people to embrace them as their NHL team in their inaugural season. Conversely, they could likely make several enemies in 2021-22, especially if they’re competing for a playoff spot.
Nonetheless, the arrival of the NHL in Seattle is something all hockey fans can appreciate. It is the site of historical hockey moments, a state-of-the-art venue, and now, a team with both a ferocious moniker and an intriguing cast of characters.
Nick covers the Seattle Kraken for THW. At his alma mater, Santa Clara University, he served as sports editor for the campus newspaper but carved out time to cheer on his San Jose Sharks nearby. His professional experience spans reporting, copywriting, and video production for sports, gaming, and tech brands.