The NHL has a brand new team with a brand new name, but the league’s 32nd franchise already has a rich history in the game.
During an appearance on Hockey Central on Thursday, Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke talked about the importance of honouring the city of Seattle’s hockey roots and embracing the culture of the sport while also making it their own.
That meant studying the historic Seattle Metropolitans, the first U.S. team to hoist the Stanley Cup more than a century ago.
“We spent more time going back to look at the Metropolitans, and the fact they won the Stanley Cup back in ,” explained Leiweke. “So we spent a lot of time looking at that history and tradition.”
History and tradition, explained the longtime executive, will be built into the organization’s foundation — and its arena, currently still under construction — and will also be seen on the ice. Leiweke said the club will at some point have more threads to show off in honour of their hockey ancestors.
“I won’t spill all the beans,” he said, “but I’ll tell you there’s a third and fourth jersey coming that eventually will honour that legacy and that tradition.”
Leiweke explained that ultimately, the team’s name came down to a question of tradition vs. something new. And while he suggested management and ownership even pondered a return to the ‘Metropolitans’ moniker, what they came up with is an organizational identity that honours its history while setting its sights firmly on the future.
“To me, the greatest thing about hockey is tradition. The greatest thing about hockey is this unwritten rule and culture between players and teams and the way that we ultimately go out and compete against each other. And so we’ve spent a lot of time trying to think about that history and that tradition, but Kraken is a pretty good example – that’s not a traditional name,” he said. “And it was highly debated within the organization for two years, about ‘Do we go with tradition – i.e., Metropolitans – or do you go with something new?’ I think that’s the challenge, right?”
— Seattle Kraken (@NHLSeattle_) July 23, 2020
“When you start something new, you want to have tradition and history to build upon but you want to think about the next century and how we ultimately create new traditions and new history and new ideas that are gonna be more relevant in the next 50 years than maybe the past 50 years,” he said. “It’s a mix.”