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Seattle Expansion Odds: What Will the NHL’s 32nd Team Be Called?

Dec 05, 2018 10:12 PM EST
  • The NHL has approved expansion to Seattle, giving the league 32 teams.
  • Odds have been released for the name of the Seattle franchise and Totems is the odds-on favorite.
  • Other possible names include Sockeyes, Seals, Emeralds and Rainiers.

The NHL Board of Governors have approved the league’s expansion to Seattle on Tuesday, giving the league 32 franchises. The new team will begin play in the 2021-22 season and the expansion draft will have the same rules as the one for Vegas.

The currently unnamed team in Seattle balances out the Eastern and Western Conference, giving each 16 teams. Seattle will play in the Pacific Division, with the Coyotes moving to the Central.

Now that the franchise got the thumbs up from the NHL big wigs, the next step will to be announce a name.

This move has been a long time coming, so a decent menu of possible names have been bandied about by the hockeysphere and offshore sportsbook Bovada has released odds:

These 13 names all come from a report by DetroitHockey.net, which noticed that a lawyer who works for the Oak View Group (which is running the Seattle expansion show) registered domain names related to these nicknames.

The Favorites

As of right now, Totems is the odds-on favorite. Why Totems? The Seattle Totems were a professional hockey team that played in the WHL (1958-1974) and CHL (1974-75) that expected to join the NHL in 1976-77 but never quite made it due to ownership issues.

The Totems had a cool look that has since been adopted and tweaked by the city’s junior team, the Thunderbirds, who play in the Western Hockey League.

After the Totems, the Emeralds check in at 4-1. Seattle’s widely known nickname is the Emerald City so this makes sense. It seems a bit obvious and I hope the people in charge go a different route. Plus, when the NHL decides to do the NBA thing and have teams wear their city nicknames on their sweaters it’ll be weird to be the Emerald City Emeralds.

There are three team names tied for third at 7-1: Sockeyes, Kraken and Rainiers. Let’s start with the fish.

First of all, a Sockeye is a species of salmon native to the North Pacific, it is also known as the blueback salmon, which is a cooler name than Sockeye.

The Seattle Bluebacks, now that’s a name I can get behind.

Anyway, people in the Pacific Northwest are very proud to share their waters with these wonderful fish, so it’s no surprise that Sockeyes won a vote conducted by the Seattle Times, edging out Totems in the final round.

The Kraken was a legendary giant cephalopod (see: squid) that has popped up in various fictional works over time. The originator of the Kraken was poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson of Somersby, England who you’ll remember from your sophomore English class.

While the Kraken has very little to do with the Pacific Northwest (it was rumored to patrol the waters in between Greenland and Norway), there is a self-serving reason it made the list of contenders.

The Kraken has since popped up in comic books and blockbuster films like The Pirates of the Caribbean series, which is produced by Jerry Bruckeimer. Why do I mention Mr. Bruckheimer? Well, he just so happens to be an integral part of the Seattle ownership team. Makes you think, don’t it?

There was a minor league baseball team called The Rainiers in Seattle before the Mariners big league’d them to Tacoma, where they still play to this day. I find it hard to believe this group will want to share a name with a Triple-A baseball team.

The Longshots

The only name in between 10-1 and 20-1 is Renegades and there’s very little oomph to it. Let’s go back into the water.

At 22-1 we have two sea mammals that can be found in the Puget Sound swimming for their damn lives away from Orcas: Seals and Sea Lions.

If you’re a hockey historian, of which I have no doubt you are, you’ll be quick to point out that there was already an NHL team called “The Seals.” The California Golden Seals, originally called the California Seals and then the Oakland Seals, played in the NHL from 1967 to 1976 before moving to Cleveland. I don’t think Seattle will want the bad juju of naming a team after a failed NHL franchise.

There’s no denying that Sea Lions are cool animals and we’d all like to chill with one, but the species of Sea Lions that pops up in the Puget Sound are known as California Sea Lions, not Seattle Sea Lions.

Before we get to one more name worth blabbering about, let’s just acknowledge and then toss out Evergreens, Eagles, Cougars, Whales and Firebirds because those names would all be massive disappointments.

Off the Board

There is a name that Bovada is sleeping on and it’s a little disappointing that it would omit a serious contender. The Seattle Metropolitans played in the NHL from 1915 to 1924 and became the first American team to ever win the Stanley Cup when it defeated the Montreal Canadiens in 1917.

While it makes sense to name the team the Metropolitans to pay homage to some cool history, there is an issue — one of the NHL’s division is asininely named “The Metropolitan Division.”

Picks

If I had to place a bet on these odds (we asked Bovada to add a “Field” or “Metropolitans” option and they shrugged and told us to check back later), I’d be going with the Sockeye at 7-1.

It already won a competition held by a major media outlet in the area and these people up in the Pacific Northwest are always throwing salmon around markets like it’s a normal thing to do.

However, once Metropolitans or “Field” pops up at anything better than -200, I think you gotta pounce like an Orca on a seal in the Puget Sound.

Follow Michael J. Leboff on Twitter
@TheBigLeebowski

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