Nobody wants a small fish that gets eaten by bigger fish. Totems? Out of fashion. Metropolitans? Ineligible. How about remorseless sea menace? Yes. Kraken.
Let’s deep-six right now the complaints about naming a sports team after a mythical being. We have plenty of Giants, Titans, Devils, Thunderbirds, etc. In the land that propagated Bigfoot propaganda for profit, let us Sasquatologists not heap scorn on Kraken.
Hey, we once had an NBA team named after an airplane that never came to exist, the Boeing Super Sonic Transport (SST).
And let’s perform cancel culture on all pedestrian animals (Bears, Lions, Eagles, etc.) because they are trite. Did you know there’s no such bird as a seahawk? Osprey comes ornithologyically close, but the word is hard to say drunk. Although I did think about firing up a campaign for an ignored, under-appreciated, indigenous species — the Banana Slugs.
In a league that has the San Jose Sharks, as well as the arch-rival team in Vancouver whose symbol is an orca, nobody wants to be a sockeye or a steelhead, otherwise known in the marine world as breakfast.
The Totems? Native American symbolism is done. The Metropolitans? A good idea, a nostalgic throwback to the days when Seattle had a vibrant downtown as well as the name of the team that won the 1918 Stanley Cup. But it’s also the name of a division in the NHL. Non-starter.
Fanciful, farcical and a figure in literature. Herman Wouk, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Alfred, Lord Tennyson all waxed eloquent over the sea monster. Here’s Al’s little ditty:
Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millenial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
I mean, if ESPN can’t take that heavy literary ordnance and make it into a 10-part semi-documentary, it may as well pack it in and stream kitty videos.
And of course, Kraken is a cinematic force. Who can forget Liam Neeson, who, in Clash of the Titans, unknowingly over-acted and launched a hockey franchise:
More recently, the Pirates of the Caribbean film series launched the Kraken into the pop culture stratosphere as the cephalopodic antagonist to Johnny Depp’s captain Jack Sparrow.
The connection seems obvious when hockey fanatic Jerry Bruckheimer, executive producer of Pirates, is also part owner of the NHL Seattle expansion franchise. Joining hockey and the Kraken together must feel to Bruckheimer like the first time Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced in Top Hat.
Perhaps the coolest element of Kraken is the sense of remorseless menace. That was the theme of the club’s hype video released Wednesday with the announcement. No narration, no appearance by the beast. You just know.
A legend from the deep awakens.
— Seattle Kraken (@NHLSeattle_) July 23, 2020
All of the foregoing suggests that there was no real option, not after Kraken kept popping up high in fan voting and polling. CEO Tod Leiweke has made quite a career out of listening to fans, even if they were telling him something he didn’t want to hear.
A story that made the rounds last year quoted Leiweke, formerly the NFL’s No. 2 behind Roger Goodell and the Seahawks/Sounders boss from 2002-10, as saying, “I didn’t leave a good job to come back to Seattle and run a hockey team called the Kraken.”
As he did earlier in Seattle, when he heard many fans of the expansion MLS franchise say they didn’t want any part of a team that wasn’t named Sounders, he changed his mind. In the 597 days since the Dec. 4, 2018 announcement that Seattle was the NHL’s 32nd franchise, Leiweke felt the urge again to accept the public’s will.
According to a story exclusive to ESPN, the club had decided on the name by around Christmas, but had to work through trademark issues that concluded only a week ago. To much praise and some scorn, they landed on an original name — and kept the secret until Wednesday.
“We hope today’s proof positive that we’ve been good listeners,” Leiweke said in a live-streamed announcement from the Seattle Center worksite that will be Climate Pledge Arena. “A single survey resulted in 100,00o fans weighing in with more than 1,000 names. We read every name, but we listened to more than that survey for the last two years.
“We’ve listened in coffee shops and in meetings, and to calls at our previous center. If we did listen, we couldn’t go wrong . . . A great brand reflects who you are, where you are, and ultimately the passion of your fans . . . It can access our hockey history, it connects us to our maritime heritage and it also connects us to the great mystery of the sea.”
The club nailed the look of the logo, the jerseys and the colors — midnight, icy blue and “red alert,” a combo not found elsewhere in the NHL. No white, no green. For fashionistas, an explanation of the design and color details can be found here.
Let the skeptics lament and the carpers carp.
It’s not Banana Slugs, but there won’t be a better public-address intro call than “Rrrrelease the Krrrraken!” Capt. Jack Sparrow, you best be there on Dec. 1, 2021.