The NHL will be expanding to 32 teams at the start of the 2021-22 season when the Seattle franchise makes its debut.
We know there will be plenty of excitement and exceedingly high expectations given the immediate success of the league's most recent expansion team (the Vegas Golden Knights, who instantly became one of the league's best and a Stanley Cup contender).
What we do not know is what this team will be called, but there have been plenty of suggestions, rumors and possibilities:
Cougars — There are a lot of big cats in Washington, so it makes sense that Cougars would make the list of potential names. It loses some points on the originality scale though because Washington State University already goes by the name. There is nothing wrong with multiple sports teams having the same name, but two from the same state seems to be overdoing it a bit.
Eagles — Another one that just doesn't seem to move the needle much. It is a bland, generic, sports team name that just seems to be a go-to when there are no other ideas. You can do better, Seattle.
Evergreens — Now we are getting somewhere. Unique, something different in professional sports and something that is local to the region. Washington has more than 25 different species of evergreen trees, so it is obviously indigenous to the area.
Emeralds — An obvious possibility because Seattle is known as the "Emerald City" for its lush, green scenery. Like "Evergreens," the name would be something that is unique and original and could probably only work in Seattle. That should put it high on the list.
Firebirds — Something about this just seems like it is more suited for the minor leagues. Seattle has a Western Hockey League team that goes by Thunderbirds, so it is probably some sort of a play on that. Let the Thunderbirds have their thing. Go in another direction for the NHL team.
Kraken — Now we get to the fun stuff. The Kraken, a "legendary cephalopod-like sea monster," is a name that has seemingly been high on the list since the entire process began. The only flaw in the name is that folklore has the Kraken wreaking its special brand of havoc in Scandinavia and not the Pacific Northwest of the United States. But when you are talking about sports team names and mythical creatures, do we really need to be geographically accurate? It is a fun name; that should be enough.
Metropolitans — This is the old-school play because the Metropolitans were the name of a Seattle-based professional hockey franchise that existed from 1915 to 1924, playing in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. They were also the first team in the United States to win the Stanley Cup, in 1917. It has the historical connection, but the name does not seem to be one that is under much consideration.
Rainiers — At one time there was a minor league baseball team in Seattle known as the Rainiers, but they ceased operations in 1968. There is a current minor league baseball team in nearby Tacoma that currently goes by Rainiers, so it kind of runs into the same problem as Cougars: too many teams in the area going by the same name.
Sasquatch — OK, this one probably does not really have a chance but it is the most fun name and would provide the greatest mascot options. This possibility originally started as an online fan campaign but did not seem to register much with the team or the league. Washington is, of course, notorious for its numerous Sasquatch "sightings." Give the people what they want!
Sockeyes — This seems to be the current leader, and it checks all of the boxes for an expansion team name: unique, geographically relevant, great logo and mascot possibilities. It also has the potential for a new fan tradition that will surely result in actual sockeye salmon hitting the ice before games.
Whale — With all due respect to Seattle, if there is going to be another NHL team with "whale" in its name, that team should be playing in Hartford.
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