A FAN’S NOTES
Someone Left a Kraken the Rain or Fill My Kraken
The Seattle Big Fucking Squids will begin play as the National Hockey League’s 32nd franchise in 2021-22, pandemic permitting. How a mythological Scandinavian sea monster relates to the Pacific Northwest of the United States eludes me. Maybe the squad is named for hipster hooch or a really bad big budget action flick.
“You must be Igor?”
“No, it’s pronounced ‘Eye-gore.’”
The NHL has been staging professional hockey games for more than a century, and, boy, will it really stage them this summer: “Quiet on the set! Cue crowd noise! Camera One pan to inflated sex dolls behind the penalty box!” Maybe the Seattle Kraken isn’t so weird after all.
Over time the league has proffered a stirred potpourri of team names. Some are crimes against grammar (Toronto Maple Leafs); some are boringly obvious (Ottawa Senators); some are unimaginative transplants (Calgary Flames); some are alliterative (Philadelphia Flyers); some have too many syllables (Columbus Blue Jackets); some are derogatory slang (Vancouver Canucks); some may be deemed culturally insensitive (Chicago Blackhawks nee Black Hawks); some are historical though obscure (New York Rangers); some are steeped in myth en francais (Montreal Canadiens); and some are sublimely inspired (St. Louis Blues).
My personal bugaboo with sports team names is usage of the singular (Minnesota Wild). Even casual conversation about the club demands the insertion of an article, an extra word. I know I’m a bit past my best-before date. I know I’m something of a traditionalist. No matter how much I primp and flash my billfold, I know I’m a secondary demographic to sports marketers. But I also know that I know how to pronounce the names of every team in the league and not one of those names affords an opportunity for willful mispronunciation. Following this summer’s riots in Seattle, childish hilarity ensures.
A question begs: Did anybody think this through? This is the same question I ask as I watch a diseased world burn. In 1919 civilization was in the grippe of a nasty bug, Spanish flu was epidemic. The Stanley Cup playoff between Montreal’s Canadiens and Seattle’s Metropolitans was called off after five games. Nobody won it that year. The new Seattle franchise’s logo is evocative of that bygone yet eerily similar era. The primary crest is a simple letter S, serpentine and seahorse-worthy. Still, modern and too busy by half, its design affectations include the suggestion of a tentacle and an evil red eye. The Kraken crest is sort of heraldic while mysteriously and mildly off-putting. The gothic font niggles.
Fortunately, the Seattle Kraken primary uniform colour is neither black nor field grey. No, it’s “deep sea” blue which is apparently entirely different from navy blue. The team’s palette includes four secondary colours. Four. One of the uniform trim colours is “ice” blue. Ice blue, and you need to know this, is a very different hue from baby, powder, sky and light blue. Only a graphic designer can tell the difference and they make it up. I know because I worked with the precious bastards for 30 years. “Yeah, I added seven eighteenths of cyan to the colour mix.” Really?
The Kraken last week unleashed a slick brand video, the big logo and laundry colour reveal. The organization was likely disappointed by the muted response to its dramatic and cinematic self-promotion. The major hockey story in North America is the NHL’s attempt to summer-salvage last winter in two Canadian “hub” cities. What could possibly go wrong?
Should the Seattle Kraken ever take the ice, they will be expected to meet the audaciously high bar set by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s 31st club, a team with too many syllables who couldn’t even get its home city right. I shouldn’t sweat this stuff because in days like these the future of hockey, pro sports or anything really, seems like a fantastic and remote possibility, something akin to a sea monster.