Hello Seattle?

Posted: May 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm   /   by   /   comments (1)

Zach Gold

A week ago, a potential ownership group that intends to bring the NHL to Seattle was identified, marking a major step forward in the quest to return professional hockey to the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. Victor Coleman and Jonathan Glaser are the leaders of the group and elite businessmen in Seattle, and along with Jeff Marks, sat down with commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly to discuss a potential bid. While this is a significant advance towards returning a pro team to Seattle, which has not had one since the WHL’s folding ended the run of the Seattle Totems in 1975, there is still much more that needs to be sorted out before any hope this group has of getting a team materializes.


First, there is the issue of where the team would play. Billionaire hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen put together a bid to purchase the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle. The offer included the promise to build a new downtown arena that could also support a hockey team, but the sale was rejected soundly by the league’s Board of Governors and any hope of the arena went down with it. Key Arena is the current largest building available for use, but it only holds 15,177 for hockey and its sightlines were so poor that it forced the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds to move to the nearby city of Kent. In order for the NHL to have any long term confidence in having a team in the city, a new, state-of-the-art arena where no seat is a bad one is a must. Coleman and Glaser have not yet mentioned anything about having a new barn in place, and until then, it is hard to see a team granted without this commitment.


Next, there is the question of whether the Seattle team will be the result of expansion or relocation. If it is the former, the NHL will want to add one more team, likely out West, so as to make there be an even 32 teams in the league, with 16 in each conference. There have not been talks with other cities such as Houston, Las Vegas or Kansas City that may seem interested in an expansion team as well, and expanding by only one in this situation would not make very much sense from a competitive and scheduling standpoint. It may seem hard to imagine, but a well prepared Seattle ownership group may see their bid become contingent on other cities that have not done nearly as much to woo the NHL. That may be a crying shame if things don’t work out considering how proactive they have been to reach this point.


With all this in mind, let’s get a little hypothetical. If Seattle is to eventually get an NHL, what would they be called? Here are what I consider the three best options:


1. Seattle Sonics
This could be the best way to get even with the NBA, especially within the city limits. Seattleites are still very bitter about the messy breakup David Stern and company catalyzed back in 2008, and there is nothing they want more than to get their beloved Sonics back. It may not be the way in which they envisioned, but beating the NBA to the punch by giving the fans back the team name they used to love could be the fastest and most efficient way to make Seattle a hockey town.


2. Seattle Metropolitans
It’s time for a quick trivia quiz: Name the first ever American team to lift the Stanley Cup. No, it wasn’t the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins or Chicago Blackhawks; it was the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA, who defeated the NHA’s Montreal Canadiens (the NHL wouldn’t be founded until the next year) three games to one. For this reason, the “Mets’” success during this era was the apex of hockey in Seattle, even if they haven’t been around for nearly a century. Teaching the fans the legacy of this preceding franchise and why their new team is named after them should not be a very hard task.


3. Seattle Seals
Here one that’s a little outside the box, but a name I think could work really well. This name would be an homage to the California Seals of the 1970s, but since the Bay Area now has a team in the Sharks, I doubt there will ever be a California team with this moniker ever again. With Seattle’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean, naming them after marine life is not that far-fetched. I can already envision an aquatic color scheme not dissimilar to the current branding of the Seahawks and Mariners, building a citywide connection between the teams.


The interest coming from the Seattle group will be on the agenda of the next meeting of the NHL’s Board of Governors, taking place this June, and by then we will certainly learn more about the potential fate of Coleman and Glaser’s bid. Comment below with your thoughts on if Seattle will get a team, and if so, what would you like to see them be named?


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  • May 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm Kuhan

    I think the Pilots is a more likely name if they’re going to name themselves after an old Seattle club.