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When we were Kings: naming Seattle's (hoped-for) NBA and NHL teams

At the risk of jinxing things, we've got some ideas about what to call Seattle's new hoops and hockey teams.
A sign of support for construction of a new pro sports arena during a rally in 2012.

A sign of support for construction of a new pro sports arena during a rally in 2012. Quin Benzel

As a general rule, it’s best not to count chickens before they’re hatched, let alone give them names. But what the heck — let’s make a grand exception in the case of Seattle’s ever-fluctuating prospects for attracting big-league basketball and hockey to town.

Let’s say our NBA and NHL chickens do come home to roost. What then should we call our new teams?

Sure, the once and future NBA team here ought to be known as the Seattle SuperSonics — eventually. But assuming we steal — excuse me, legally purchase and relocate — the current Sacramento franchise, I say for a year or two we call the team exactly what they’re called today: The Kings. Here’s why:

Kings are a fitting name for a King County squad, a team that might be playing in the Kingdome if only we hadn’t blown it up. (The Sonics played there from 1978 to 1985.)

King salmon are Northwest icons.

The Kings’ purple colors wonderfully evoke our hometown Huskies.

We’d be honoring the man for whom our county is named: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Actually, King County was named after U.S. Vice President-elect William Rufus DeVane King, a slaveholding Alabaman. Our county council renamed it after the slain civil rights hero some years back. But I digress.

A Kings moniker makes sense, which is more than can be said for a lot of other NBA transplants. Take the Minneapolis Lakers: a glorious name for a team born in the land of 10,000 lakes. But in Los Angeles? The Lakers play nowhere near a lake. Or the Jazz. In New Orleans, a great name; in Utah, a head scratcher. Vancouver Grizzlies? Sure! Memphis Grizzlies? Please.

So let the Kings reach their (hopefully) final resting spot in KeyArena. Then, when their fancy new SoDo digs are ready, probably in 2015, let’s have a raucous region-wide, Squatch-hosted party and crown the Kings, once and for all time, by the name that evokes Seattle’s world-champion basketball glory: the Sonics!

Now on to ice hockey. Seattle is my adopted hometown and I love it. But I’m Boston-born and New England-bred; to me, hockey is a religion. Witness the once ubiquitous bumper sticker that featured Bruins star Phil Esposito: “Jesus Saves – Esposito Scores on the Rebound.”  

Seattle could be — should be, will be — a fantastic hockey town. Our city is farther north than Boston or Detroit or any other U.S. city with an NHL franchise. Our long, dark, chilly winter nights cry out for the excitement — and the beer — that make going to an NHL game such a great way to ward off seasonal blues. Our intra-Cascadian rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks could be epic.

Before we name the team, of course, we need to figure where it’s being stolen — er, moved — from. We should certainly raid the Sun Belt, and indeed Phoenix is widely considered our best shot. Hockey in the desert? Ridiculous.  

So what to call our pucksters? Happily, there’s a terrific name waiting, one that also happens to be the answer to one of my all-time favorite sports trivia questions: Which U.S. team won the first ever Stanley Cup, hockey’s most coveted prize? Answer: The Seattle Metropolitans! 1917. Look it up.

Purists might point out that half of North America’s greatest hockey stars were off in Europe at the time fighting World War I, while most of the others were probably laid low by the horrible influenza epidemic that wracked the continent that year.

No matter: Seattle won! I say we honor our past and call the new hockey team the Metropolitans, and let the world learn this fabulous fun fact about our hockey heritage. Let’s don the original Met colors, whatever they were, wear the retro jerseys, give a boost to the serendipitously named Seattle Metropolitan magazine. But again, only for a year or two. Then a new name, because “Metropolitan” is too generic for a region so unique in character. Got any ideas?


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Comments:

Posted Sat, Feb 2, 10:17 a.m. Inappropriate

The Kings might be a better fit than the Sonics these days, but Seattle's future NBA team will be called the Sonics. Fans wouldn't have it any other way, and the Sonics name and history remain in Seattle as part of the agreement with Clay Bennett.

For the hockey team: The Seattle Freeze.

Posted Mon, Feb 4, 11:55 a.m. Inappropriate

How about the Seattle Sockeyes? A bit of a double entendre.

literally

Posted Sat, Feb 2, 10:50 a.m. Inappropriate

Two options for the hockey team:

1) the Birkenstocks. They'd have to become the toughest team in the league.

2) the Geoducks. Bivalve intimidators.

JimCusick

Posted Tue, Feb 5, 4:09 p.m. Inappropriate

I'd only want "Geoducks" if the players weren't circumcised.

dbreneman

Posted Sat, Feb 2, 11:22 a.m. Inappropriate

The basketball team will be named the Sonics on day one. The MOU says that the basketball team will be called the Sonics.

Mr Baker

Posted Sun, Feb 3, 1:16 a.m. Inappropriate

Section 23, subsection b, titled Team Name of the 24 September 2012 MOU says that ArenaCo (Hansen, Ballmer, Nordstroms) will use its "best efforts" to gain the rights to the "Sonics/Supersonics" name. The subsection also says Seattle would use its "best efforts" to assist ArenaCo in gaining the rights.

It may cost more public funds to assist ArenaCo in gaining the rights to the name. This project bleeds public money.

So, there is no guarantee that any team name in Seattle would be the Sonics/Supesonics. The MOU does not say that any team will be called the Sonics.

jhande

Posted Sat, Feb 2, 12:39 p.m. Inappropriate

Like contracts, MOUs are made to be broken.

greg_shaw

Posted Sat, Feb 2, 4:38 p.m. Inappropriate

Since the Boeing SST never really took flight, perhaps the Supersonics should be renamed to honor their slower planes and aptly describe the replacement nature of the team by calling them the Subsonics. Or maybe we can honor our medical technology fields by calling them the Ultrasonics.

Maybe the hockey team could reignite Seattle's failed marketing slogan and name them the Metronaturals. Or we could name them after Seattle's mild winters as the Seattle Slush or the OMG It's Freaking 32 Degrees Out. The last one might be problematic for the jerseys.

2cents

Posted Sat, Feb 2, 9:01 p.m. Inappropriate

Given that they would be playing Seattle tax exempt in an arena payed for with public funds; the name for a basketball team should be The Welfare Bums, and the name for the hockey team should be something like The Moochers.

I thought about the Seattle SuperSubsidyTaxSuckers for the basketball team; but that seemed unworkable to scream out cheering for a team, it would be an absolutely true monicker, though. SuperSubsidyTaxSuckers has too many syllables to be a good name.

I had also though of The Freeloaders, The Parasites, The Gimme's, The Schemers, The Corrupt,The Beggars, and The Craven; but those names are more about the possible owners; who would be Hansen, Ballmer, and the Nordstoms, than players on the team.

How about The Stolen for the basketball team?

jhande

Posted Sat, Feb 2, 9:15 p.m. Inappropriate

LOVE this piece, loved Sam Verhovek's book, loved 99 percent of what he wrote for The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times back in the day, but this time around, I gotta say ... His emphasis is in the wrong place and league and sport. Basketball, maybe, hockey, FFS YEAH!! BRING IT ON!! Any top-60 metro area in the United States, even some oil patch staging area like Oklahoma City, can support one more NBA basketball team and yeah yeah yeah make enough money and tilt enough Sunday-night games to make the numbers work. But what is truly unique, what is truly noble, what is utterly distinctive, is to be one of the 19 cities among the 30 NHL franchise towns that can truly support and give birth to an enduring NHL franchise. Seattle could, absolutely, be that town -- and SV's identification of the instant built in Pioneers-Canucks or Cascades-Canucks rivalry, and what that would do for this region and the NHL generally, is huge. Totally huge. I'd even say, how about we stick it in their face and call the new Seattle NHL franchise ... The Real Kings. Build in a second blood rivalry right away!! Seattle is as we all know so much more than one more NBA town. It's one of the Elite that can support and sustain The Big One, the National Hockey League

Posted Sat, Feb 2, 11:19 p.m. Inappropriate

Having a temporary name is, honestly, dumb, and it would make everything worse. Do you think Seattle fans would have been happier to see a team called "the Sonics" playing in Oklahoma City for a couple of years? No, it would have pissed them off even further.

And a quick note about the "Totems".

Terrible, stupid name, but then you're a self-admitted transplant to Seattle and problem didn't realize that "Totem Poles" -- the source of the name -- is an offensive term for the story poles that northwest native tribes have used. Totems imply that they are worshipped. They aren't. They tell stories.

The last thing we need is another name offensive to native Americans.

My vote is for the Metropolitans; but I agree with you that it's pretty plain. But it might be nice to have a seattle Hockey Team called the Metropolitans in place on the 100th Anniversary of the first Stanley Cup victory.

lazespud

Posted Sun, Feb 3, 7:07 a.m. Inappropriate

The Metropolitans would not be a good name. It's too generic and comes from a time before our collective memory.

I actually like the Steelheads name. I believe there is a minor league hockey team in Denver called the Cut-throats.
Those double-entendre names are the best--my favorite being the Calgary Hitmen.

jeffro

Posted Sun, Feb 3, 11:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Jeffro is correct, if we do get a team stolen for our enjoyment, it should have a unique name and based on our location and heritage and if possible be more regionally inclusive. Therefore I would like to recommend that the team be named the Seattle-Bremerton Ferries.

MichaelQ

Posted Sun, Feb 3, 3:59 p.m. Inappropriate

If the Legislature goes through with their anything for money plans the Washington State Ferries could be the Starbucks or Microsoft Ferries or even possibly the Seattle Supersonic Ferries.

2cents

Posted Sun, Feb 3, 5:03 p.m. Inappropriate

Steelheads is okay, but any Salmmon-related name would be more appropriate than a trout-related name. Perhaps the Seattle Sockeyes? That would also serve as a helluva double-entendre name too...

lazespud

Posted Mon, Feb 4, 1:18 a.m. Inappropriate

Lets honor an iconic part of our culture. Name the hockey: Seattle RIOT

Posted Mon, Feb 4, 8:11 a.m. Inappropriate

re lazespud comment: You're dead wrong on Totems, pal! A lot of native Americans, including me, would love it. The Seahawk, by the way, is a totem. The team logo in fact is a stylized hawk's head directly based on Northwestern Native American Art, and noone would be more pissed than us if they ever try to change it. Oh, and totems don't imply worship: according to the dictionary, a totem is simply "a natural object or animal believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and adopted by it as an emblem." So Go Hawks and Go Totes!

Posted Mon, Feb 4, 4:23 p.m. Inappropriate

No one is on-board with reviving the Seattle Metropolitan for the hockey team? They won the Stanley Cup in 1917 for gosh sakes!

sdatherly

Posted Mon, Feb 4, 9:29 p.m. Inappropriate

I remember the old line from the 70s. We should have named the football team the power and the baseball team the glory and then we could have the Kingdome, the Power and the Glory.

Posted Tue, Feb 5, 1:14 p.m. Inappropriate

Naming a team after a fish might not be macho enough. "Sockeye" is close, but you have to admit that the creature is too small to really strike terror into the hearts of opponents, not to mention that it lacks arms and legs. What we need is a larger mascot that for years terrified visiting teams and small children: the Seattle Wheedles!

Posted Tue, Feb 5, 3 p.m. Inappropriate

Seattle Killer Whales. A 'Killers'/Canucks rivalry? I'm in.

soapscum

Posted Tue, Feb 5, 3:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Unfortunatley the latest iteration of the Canucks' logo shows a stylized orca, so I fear the rivalry could be watered down.
Not to mention they have the same green/blue color scheme that Seattle sports teams already employ.

jeffro

Posted Tue, Feb 5, 3:25 p.m. Inappropriate

The Gribbles.

jhande

Posted Tue, Feb 5, 4:06 p.m. Inappropriate

As I recall, "The Kings" was the name of the stillborn minor league football team that the King Dome was ostensibly built for. There was even a giant fiberglass football in the parking lot with "KINGS" painted on the side. The football was finally broken up after it was discovered that bums were camping in it.

dbreneman

Posted Tue, Feb 5, 8:45 p.m. Inappropriate

Well, then there is further link to calling the NBA team the Welfare Bums.

jhande

Posted Wed, Feb 27, 11:54 a.m. Inappropriate

Close. The "Seattle Kings" was the name used by a group that was seeking an NFL franchise in the early 1970's. One of the people involved was ex-UW and NFL football star Hugh "The King" McElhenny, who was listed as the proposed team's general manager). They even hosted an exhibition game at Husky Stadium in 1972 between the Steelers and Jets that drew over 44,000.

The Kings did a great job of promoting themselves but lost out on an NFL franchise to Seattle Professional Football, a group willing and able to pay the $16 million expansion fee.

FWIW

Posted Fri, Mar 29, 11:39 a.m. Inappropriate

Wait a minute! Are you saying Bradshaw & Namath went head to head here in Seattle???!

Honario

Posted Thu, Feb 28, 4:58 a.m. Inappropriate

By far, the name of the new Seattle hockey team should be Metropolitans. The reason is the sweater is cool! (Red White and Green Barberpole) On opening night they could raise their Stanley Cup Banner while playing the Montreal Canadiens. (the team they beat when they did win the Stanley Cup). Another game that would be marketable would be when the Ottawa Senators came to town. That was the team they were playing in the Stanley final when the series was cancelled by the flu epidemic. Not too many expansion teams come into the league and can claim they are already Stanley Cup Champions. The only other team to do it is the Ottawa Senators.

Posted Tue, Mar 26, 11:36 a.m. Inappropriate

The basketball team should of course be the SuperSonics and it should be the second they arrive. Nothing like saying goodbye to the Key before moving into the new place then have the Sonics play there.

As for the Hockey team, I hate the Metropolitans name, sure we used it for less then a decade around WWI but NY has had a little baseball team called the Met's (Metropolitans) since the 60's I believe and that name sounds so east coast and NY especially.

Haven't hear Steelheads yet, that sounds cool so that will be my new third choice. Second would be Totems, good name for the region and represents us well.

However my number one for Hockey is the Thunderbirds. Very strong, badass logo and mascot, perhaps trade the WHL franchise so they become the Totems and become the teams minor league team then the NHL teams use the Thunderbirds, update the logo a bit and that's a badass team name.

We can still honor the Metropolitans of yore the same way Vancouver did a week or so ago and weat throwback jersey's once a year and have a Met's night! 1917 prices on everything!

Posted Fri, Mar 29, 11:54 a.m. Inappropriate

I love the history and wouldn't mind the new NHL team being called the Mets, Metros & Metropolitans. Totems would be good as well. I've been thinking about this a lot because I'm gonna be a season ticket holder right from the start. After watching "Seattle Hockey History In 10 Minutes (more or less)" (http://youtu.be/BROy2xyt0ik) an idea hit me! We want the name to be historic, local and badass. We've had a number of really good names. One being the 'Bombers' which I really dig. That's when I came upon:

The 'B-17s'!!!!

Retro, historic, macho and with a plethora of built in entendres! "BAM! Anze just laid a bomb on Brodeur!"

I vote for the B-17s!!

Honario

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