Seattle Kraken Debut Inaugural Season in 2021

Zach Fortes, Staff Writer

It is well known by the Pacific Northwest that Seattle professional sports has a decorated history. Whether it be the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders or even the SuperSonics, Seattle sports teams hold lots of significance and great history that has been remembered in the city for decades. However, when it comes to professional sports, holding a team in any city is not as easy as it sounds. Cities with big markets such as New York or Los Angeles have held an average of two professional teams per sport because of the market and advertising size where they can afford to hold more than one team for sport. 

When it comes to Seattle, the market itself is not small compared to the average U.S. city, but when you compare Seattle’s market size to other cities who historically have always had big markets, Seattle does not match up. In 2008, it was announced that businessman Clay Bennett was moving the beloved SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. This outraged Seattle sports fans and still does today. But the Supersonics were a basketball team, what about hockey? Seattle was already familiar with the Seattle Thunderbirds, who are a semi-pro hockey team located in Kent, but the city of Seattle has never held a NHL (National Hockey League) team, which is the best league and highest level of hockey in the U.S. and Canada. This has finally changed. Seattle has finally captured an NHL team of their own. In December 2018, the NHL announced that the city of Seattle will be granted the 32nd NHL expansion team, scheduled to start in 2021. They were appointed to play at the newly renovated Climate Pledge Arena, formerly known as Key Arena.

The state of Washington is still not generally familiar with hockey, but this did not stop Seattle sports fans from being pumped up about the Seattle Kraken inaugural season. Junior Andrew Schaffer says, “At first I wasn’t insanely hyped about the fact that we just got a hockey team. But after watching a few of their games I have gained interest in it and have been watching them more and more.” Seattle sports fans have become optimistic about the Kraken and have been more supportive. Many fans are placed on a waiting list for season tickets as fans pre-bought season tickets back in 2019. The vast majority of all Kraken games this season have been sellouts. In their home opener, Russell Wilson, Ciara, Bobby Wagner, DK Metcalf, and Macklemore all showed up for the game decked out in Kraken gear. Freshman Samir Aligab says, “I don’t watch hockey a whole lot, but since the release of the Kraken, I have purchased multiple articles of Kraken gear because the logo looks cool.”

 The Kraken organization has also added creative and unique features for fan entertainment and interest at their home games that differs from other NHL teams. For example, there has been a long lasting tradition in the sport of hockey that if a player scores three goals in a single game which is known as a hat trick, the fans go wild and start throwing their caps onto the ice. All teams have a clean up crew for when this happens. The clean up crew that the Kraken has wear replicas of the uniforms worn by the famously known Pike Place Market fish workers that perform the iconic fish toss after one is purchased. Something else the Kraken do is at the end of the game, the top three performers of the game roam the ice and toss plush salmon up into the crowd. Every other NHL team usually throws regular hockey pucks up into the crowd, but the Kraken throw plush salmon to also replicate the actions performed by the Pike Place fish market workers. The plush salmon are also an authentic length of 22 inches, which is the longest length of a salmon you are legally allowed to catch. Sophomore Abigail Olson says, “I think it’s super creative how the Kraken are experimenting with fun and unique events that other teams haven’t thought about. It is a good marketing trick and a great way to get fans engaged in not only the Kraken, but the sport itself.”

The Seattle Kraken has brought excitement to the city of Seattle. Whether you are a sports fanatic or not, it is interesting to see a new era of culture in a city that has dealt with droughts of sports teams in the past. Hockey has a bright future in this city, and hopefully, it will continue to evolve for years to come. Sports are a great way to bring people together, especially at the professional level, where fans get excited to watch their favorite team perform alongside their favorite people while doing it.