Last week was a big one for the Puget Sound hockey community.
Last Tuesday morning the NHL announced it granted Seattle an expansion franchise. This was a huge moment for the area’s hockey fans, and being at NHL Seattle’s announcement party I saw first-hand how much it meant to local hockey enthusiasts.
The announcement was all but a foregone conclusion, given the NHL’s executive committee in October voted unanimously to recommend Seattle receive an expansion franchise. It was no surprise when Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told the gathered crowd at Henry’s Tavern that the league’s owners voted unanimously to accept NHL Seattle’s bid.
There were three things that weren’t certain in advance of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s official announcement that we thought we may find out Tuesday.
The first: When would the team begin play? The hope was Seattle would enter the league in the 2020-21 season. However the schedule for KeyArena renovations is skirting with being done in time for the start of the season. Add in the small chance of a work stoppage prior to the 2020-21 season and it made sense that Seattle not begin play until 2021-22, so hockey fans are going to have to wait an extra year to see their NHL team.
The second: How will the team be stocked? When the Vegas Golden Knights entered the league last season, they did so with liberal expansion-draft rules that allowed Vegas to build a team that was competitive immediately. During the announcement Bettman confirmed Seattle would operate under the same rules for its expansion draft in 2021. That doesn’t mean Seattle will be a championship contender immediately the way Vegas was, but there was speculation the Golden Knights’ immediate success may prompt NHL owners to make the expansion draft rules a little less friendly for the next expansion team. That turned out not to be the case.
The third: What will the team’s nickname be? There was some thought that the team name would be announced Tuesday as well, and as Bettman was presented with a black jersey following the announcement I was looking closely at whether a nickname would be on the jersey as well. It wasn’t, meaning this question remains unanswered.
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been plenty of speculation. According to SI.com, Seattle’s ownership group registered for 13 trademarks for potential names, and the Las Vegas oddsmakers have already begun taking bets on which name will eventually adorn Seattle’s jerseys.
Now, 13 names is more than I want to put into a poll. Twitter only allows four poll choices, and some of the trademarked names have no chance of happening (Seattle Cougars? Really?). So I’m taking four of the favorites and giving you a choice. What do you think the Seattle NHL team’s nickname should be? Vote here, and if you pick “other,” please specify in the comments section: