In this region of the country, you have to travel quite a ways to be able to watch your favorite sport live in person. Fans can travel to Portland to watch some of their favorite teams face off against the Trail Blazers and the roar of the MLS crowd at a Portland Timbers game. Or you can head into Seattle to watch either the Mariners in the summer or the Seahawks during the fall on Sundays.
But now there’s a new National Hockey League franchise in Seattle. It’s going to bring an exciting element closer to everyone in our part of the country, and is a long time coming.
The work of getting an NHL team in the Northwest has been a headache for the past couple of decades. Back in 1974, a group of Seattle investors was granted a tentative expansion team, but they weren’t able to meet their deadlines and were dissolved before any traction was made. Then the same idea came back to life in 1990, but those wanting to invest in an organization were unable to meet the financial demands the league was asking. Finally, in late 2018 behind famous movie director/investor Jerry Bruckhemier and company, they managed to gain enough momentum in building the organization.
Hockey is a completely different beast compared to other sports. I realized that when I started working for the San Jose Sharks during their 2017-2018 season. The atmosphere is electric; the physicality is intense, the punches occasionally do fly, and the fans crave for the excitement while preparing for the possible heartbreak. To have all this happen while on skates, you can’t help but be impressed enough to become a fan.
Just a few weeks ago, these groups of investors revealed more details, and they christened their new team the Seattle Kraken. I cannot lie, the name brings me back to “Pirates of the Caribbean” when Davy Jones would call on the Kraken to destroy ships all around him. They definitely were able to nail their name in regard to their location, and huge improvement from the last expansion team name. I would have preferred something tying the Las Vegas team name to the popular casino nightlife like the Blackjacks rather than the Golden Knights.
“I think this name embodies a connection with the sea and a curiosity of what lies beneath it. It’s a natural tie to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest,” Kraken General Manager Ron Francis said during the reveal in regard to the name and color scheme. “In theory, it reflects the power and aggression in the game of hockey. We’re hoping that’s the kind of tenacity our players show every time they take the ice. So I’m excited by it.”
The color scheme and logo for the jersey is fairly new to the league as well. Outside of the San Jose Sharks, they are just the second team that has a mascot from the deep sea in hockey and just the third mascot in all of professional sports. The Seattle franchise stacked four different shades of blue with a sharp red, and honored their last professional team that made an impact in the NHL. Their logo is in honor of the Seattle Metropolitans from the Pacific Coast Hockey League, who back in 1917 were the first team from the United States to win the Stanley Cup. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman applauded the design.
“The jersey design is terrific, and I can’t wait to see NHL players wear the unique and distinctive ‘S’ on their chests on opening night; it will have special meaning for Seattle hockey fans,” Bettman said during the reveal. “I’m thrilled to welcome the Seattle Kraken into the National Hockey League.”
This group of investors has done everything right for a region of the United States that has seen minimal success with only a small handful of titles amongst all these teams. After Seattle lost the NBA’s Supersonics back in 2008, this region needed another pro sports team to root for.
Though hockey teams are all across the country, I know some may argue that hockey is a niche sport. But the Portland Winterhawks have been popular in Oregon for decades, and now another hockey team, this one at the highest level of the sport, is just a car ride away.
For those new to the sport, this is a great opportunity to invest your interest. It will be interesting to see who the Kar will draft to make up the team, but that won’t be coming till next year. It is still a ways away, but everything that is happening is exciting. Another sports team within the same region will give more excitement, and I cannot wait to see the Kraken being added to the league.
Corey Kirk is the Baker City Herald's sports editor.