In an NHL that already has six teams wearing red and black – Arizona, Carolina, Chicago, New Jersey, Ottawa, and Calgary, in our own Pacific Division – it might seem like an odd choice. But if you really think about it, it sort of makes sense.
First, the Seattle organization, with Leiweke at the helm, is less interested in how it fits into the NHL landscape right now as much as it is with being the local pro hockey franchise. With most of our other major sports teams wearing blue and green – even the Vancouver Canucks across the border – you might be forgiven for asking how red and black make the team feel local. You think of the Northwest, and you think blue and green. I get it.
That brings me to my second point. They want to stand out. This team does not want to blend into the background of Seattle sports. They’re trying to make a splash in an already passionate sports city. Plus, there’s always the merchandising aspect. If the hockey team is blue and green, you’d probably see a few too many Seahawks and Sounders hoodies in the stands. No, thank you.
Lastly, and most importantly, our ties to the local Native American tribes run deep. Seattle, if I’m not mistaken, is the largest US city named after a Native American – Chief Seattle – a leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish people in the 1800s. And the main colors of tribal art in the Pacific Northwest are black and red with blue and green as secondary colors.
Those secondary colors could be the key to differentiating the Seattle team from the Coyotes, Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Senators, Devils, or Flames on the NHL landscape. What if our team was red, black… and turquoise?
By the way, that connection to native art would not be out of place in Seattle sports. Ever seen the Seahawks logo? How about the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL? We also got a new rugby team this year called the Seawolves and they went down that road too.
Even better, there’s a built-in tie to the Seattle Metropolitans, who wore red and green in the early 20th century while becoming the first US team to win the Stanley Cup in 1917. There’s not a doubt in my mind we’ll raise that banner to the rafters on opening night in October 2021.
So red and black with perhaps turquoise as a secondary color? All things considered, I can get on board with that!
As for the team name, do not bet on Metropolitans. During this morning’s press conference, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman all but dismissed it entirely, reminding everyone that our league already has a division with that name. He also said the organization has not submitted that name to the league as an option – which means they have submitted other names!
What are they? I wish I knew. Sockeye and Kraken have been talked about for a while among the people I know and both have upsides. But it’s too soon to say what the group is thinking or where they’ll end up. But I’d be surprised if they do not have an announcement to make by spring or summer of 2019 – the end of this season, basically.
All that aside, Metropolitans is an awful name for a team debuting in the 21st century. And the past is the past. We should honor it, but we do not need to relive it. We’ll have a Metropolitans Night for sure, complete with throwback jerseys and all kinds of commemorations. But there’s no reason not to make this new team… a new team!
Given everything, I do get the sense that a name with a Native American theme is a distinct possibility. I’m not advocating for Totems… ever! That’s worse than Metropolitans and probably more offensive depending on who you ask. But I do think this group wants the franchise to honor the local population in some way.
I’ll reserve comments on the many name suggestions and logo ideas floating around these days. There are some good ones and some bad ones. And unlike some of the goofy tweets I’ve read today, the team name, no matter what it is, will have no effect on my affection for this new club. I’m just happy to have the NHL in my town!
Earlier today, Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.net asked me if this new team will be me team when it finally hits the ice. I thought a second and told him it will be… for 80 nights a year. When Seattle and Tampa meet twice a season, I’ll wear the bolt on my chest. I have two.
But even then, I try to imagine sitting in the arena for that game – Tampa vs. Seattle. Which goal gets me on my feet faster? As of right now, I honestly have no idea. I guess I’ll find out in that moment. But regardless, I’ll be a Lightning fan forever. I always say, you do not pick your team… your team picks you.
Here’s to 2021!