Seattle’s new NHL team already has 13 names in mind. Which are the best?

By Dan Gartland
December 04, 2018

After one year of flirting, the NHL has finally approved a bid for an expansion team in Seattle to play at the renovated KeyArena in 2021. Now all it needs is a name. 

The ownership group registered trademarks for 13 potential names last winter, in alphabetical order: Seattle Cougars, Seattle Eagles, Seattle Emeralds, Seattle Evergreens, Seattle Firebirds, Seattle Kraken, Seattle Rainiers, Seattle Renegades, Seattle Sea Lions, Seattle Seals, Seattle Sockeyes, Seattle Totems and Seattle Whales.

It’s possible that the final name isn’t on that list, of course. In a poll conducted this fallSeattle Times readers favored Sockeyes and Totems, with Metropolitans and Steelheads—two names not trademarked by the franchise—close behind. Metropolitans, the name of the Seattle team that became the first American club to win the Stanley Cup in 1917, seems unlikely, though, because the NHL already has a Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference. 

Oddsmakers in Vegas also have a list of favorite names. 

There are plenty of good choice on that list, so it’s probably best to rank them. 

13. Kraken

Naming your team after a mythical creature is an extremely minor-league move. It’s an especially bad idea when that creature has no real tie to the region. The Kraken is a monster with origins in the north Atlantic, not the Pacific Northwest. 

12. Firebirds

This just feels like a knockoff version of the Thunderbirds nickname for Seattle’s current WHL club. 

11. Renegades

Something about “Renegades” seems exceptionally ’90s. It’s just another generic name meant to convey aggressiveness. If it sounds like the name of a minor league baseball team, that’s because it is

10. Whales

There are two issues here. First, Seattle’s natural rival will the Canucks, just three hours to the north, who already have a killer whale mascot. Second, it’s too close to the old Hartford Whalers name, which new Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has embraced wholeheartedly. On the other hand, there is no better potential rivalrly than the Whales vs. the Whalers. 

Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

9. Eagles

This would give the NHL three teams that share names with NFL teams (the Panthers and Jets being the others) and Seattle two teams with bird-themed names. 

8. Cougars

Washington State University wouldn’t be happy about a pro team co-opting its nickname. Plus, this is essentially the same name as the Florida Panthers. 

7. Sea Lions

Sea Lions dot the coast of the Pacific Northwest, which makes this a pretty good option. The main issue is that “Sea Lions” would be tough for fans to chant. 

6. Evergreens

As long as the logo isn’t a scowling tree, this could be a really fun option. How many other major pro sports teams are named for living things that are not members of the kingdom Animalia?

5. Seals

This is another nice nod to the area’s population of marine mammals. Seattle Seals also benefits from being alliterative and is far easier to chant than “Sea Lions.” Yes, Seals/Golden Seals was the name of a previous NHL team in Oakland but they left in 1976.

4. Emeralds

Naming a team after a precious gem is certainly an imaginative approach and would give the team the opportunity to do something unique and unpredictable with its logo. It’s basically the opposite of the Golden Knights. 

3. Rainiers

This name refers to the large mountain that looms over Seattle, whose name later inspired a local brand of beer and a baseball team named after the brewery. The prospect of a team playing with a giant mountain illustration on its sweaters is extremely exciting, although sharing a name with a beer not brewed by an official NHL sponsor could be a hurdle. 

2. Totems

The Totems were Seattle’s longest-running pro hockey team, lasting from 1944 to 1975 as members of the minor Western Hockey League. They took their name from the totem poles carved by indigenous people of the Northwest, which later inspired the logos of the Seahawks and Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey team. Native American names are controversial, now more than ever, but the Seattle hockey team could consult with local indigenous groups to create a totem-inspired logo that’s respectful of native culture and represents the team’s values. 

1. Sockeyes

Every time the Seahawks play a home game in primetime, what do you see? Guys throwing salmon around in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. It’s extremely cliché at this point but salmon really are synonymous with Washington state. The name also has the fantastic double-entendre of hockey players getting socked in the eye during a fight. Imagine a Sammy Sockeye mascot dressed like a hockey goon with a big black eye and a bunch of missing teeth. The only complicating factor is that Pamela Bowerman, an IT systems worker from Washington state who writes a series of sexy hockey novels with names like “Skating on Thin Ice” and “Body Checking” under the name Jami Davenport, has already filed for a trademark on Seattle Sockeyes.

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