Seattle expansion team could announce nickname ‘around All-Star Game’

Ron Francis talks about why he decided to become the GM of the Seattle expansion team and how he is ready for challenge of putting a team together.

We’re still two years away from seeing the NHL’s 32nd team hit the ice for the first time, but we may at least know what to call them just a few months from now.

In a Facebook Live AMA on Thursday, team CEO Tod Leiweke said (via NHL.com) that the organization was working away at deciding its identity and that an announcement would come some time early this season.

“I think it’ll be the first quarter of next year, perhaps around the All-Star Game, when there’s a reveal,” Leiweke said.

It was originally expected the team would start play in the 2020-21 season, but that was pushed back a year. Leiweke noted that had they been under pressure to name the team earlier, they would have been able to do so.

Earlier this week another expansion team out of Seattle — for the XFL — announced its own new nickname would be the Dragons. As fans inside the city await what their NHL team will be called, Leiweke said the Dragons’ announcement won’t influence their decision or rush them into making one.

“I don’t think we look at anything outside of what we’re doing,” Leiweke said. “And really the answers are all from within. Brands become strong not by names of teams, but by sort of an inner strength and understanding the true essence of who we are. And we’ve added people, we’ve added strength to this organization. Ron Francis has been a great add, and I think we’re on the trail to really nailing [the name].”

Francis was hired as the team’s first GM in July, a little more than a year after his contract with the Carolina Hurricanes was terminated.

Leiweke said there wouldn’t be a public vote to decide the team’s name, though they were considering input from the fans. The CEO cited a Seattle Times bracket-style tournament from last year, in which readers nominated and then voted on their preferred nicknames, and that the team documented each of the 1,000 submissions for consideration. Among the most popular in the polls were Metropolitans, Steelheads, Kraken, Sasquatch, Freeze and Emeralds, but Sockeyes defeated Totems in the newspaper’s tournament last October.

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