by Avry Jones
Seattle, Washington, has been a great sports town for several years. Before the Supersonics left Seattle to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, Gary Payton electrified crowds for 13 years. The Seattle Seahawks brought a Super Bowl Championship and numerous winning seasons in the mid-2010s, led by Coach Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, and the Legion of “Boom.” The Seattle Mariners joined the American League of Major League Baseball in 1977. The Mariners best years involved a young man named Ken Griffey, Jr. and a Japanese import named Ichiro Suzuki. But currently, the wave of sports fever that has enveloped Seattle grew in 2021 with the newest expansion hockey team, the Kraken. Seattle was the first U.S. city in 1919 to win the Stanley Cup under the nickname the Metropolitans (NHL, 2023).
The start of Seattle Hockeytown’s dream began in March 2018 when early season ticket deposit exceeded the minimum requirements in 12 minutes and crushing all previous expansion team records (NHL, 2023). Over the next two years, the new Seattle hockey ownership group conducted focus groups, naming sessions, and confidential internal reviews to finalize the name of the NHL’s newest franchise. On July 23, 2020, CEO Tod Leiweke announced the team’s name at the Climate Pledge Arena to the men and women building it at the time. The Seattle Kraken was released to the world and immediately embraced by Seattle (NHL, 2023).
In 2021, the Seattle Kraken hired Dave Hakstol as their inaugural head coach, and their team’s first captain was Mark Giordano. Their first regular season game was on October 12, 2021, against the last NHL expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights. However, the Kraken lost 4-3, but Ryan Donato scored the team’s first goal (NHL, 2023). The Kraken’s first win was in their second regular season game on October 14 when they defeated the Nashville Predators 4-3. The Seattle Kraken first their inaugural season in last place in the Pacific Division with a record of 27-49-6 and 60 points (NHL, 2023). Although the Vegas Golden Knights broke the mold of what an expansion team should be, the first season for the Seattle Kraken could be considered a great success due to the fan base of the packed Climate Pledge Arena, where the Kraken play their home games. The fan base of the Seattle Kraken is what has fueled the excitement for hockey in Seattle.
In 2022, the Kraken finished their second season on a very high note. The Kraken clinched their first playoff berth in the Western Conference with a record of 46-28-8 (ESPN, 2023). During their first playoff series, the Kraken won and defeated the defending 2021 Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche, in the opening round in seven games. Although
the magic did not continue in the second round with a seven games loss to the Dallas Stars; pride continued to flow through the Seattle Kraken organization.
Credit: NHL (Dave Hakstol, Head Coach Seattle Kraken)
The Jack Adams Award is recognized for being the NHL Coach of the Year, and Dave Hakstol was voted as one of the three finalists. This should be no surprise considering Kraken’s vast turn-around from their first to their second season under his leadership (NHL, 2023).
The Seattle Kraken has a unique outlook on the ice, and the organization continues to innovate throughout the NHL. Everett Fitzhugh serves as the team’s primary radio play-by-play announcer. Fitzhugh had previously play-by-play experience with the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. Fitzhugh is the first full-time play-by-play announcer of African-American heritage in NHL history (ESPN, 2023). Fitzhugh grew up a massive hockey fan in Detroit, Michigan (Hockeytown, USA to many), which inspired him throughout his childhood (NHL, 2023).
Credit: NHL (Everett Fitzhugh pictured on the right)
Moreover, during this writing, the inaugural Coachella Valley Firebirds, the Seattle Kraken AHL affiliate team, went to the Calder Cup Finals but lost in Game 7 (NHL, 2023).
Credit: NHL (Coachella Valley Firebird Captain Max McCormick)
Moreover, the General Manager of the Seattle Kraken Stanley Cup Champion, Ron Francis, signed a 4-year extension to helm the leadership of the Seattle Kraken until the 2026-2027 season.
Credit: NHL (Ron Francis, GM Seattle Kraken)
The goals of the Seattle Kraken are abundant, and many NHL teams are looking to the Kraken’s winning formula to see how their teams can succeed. Overall, success starts within the group, however small, and grows with each small victory as those become more significant and outstanding achievements. Afterward, the fanbase continues to support the team, and the team organization should listen to the fans to help their organization grow for the team’s and city’s growth.
Data and Statistics were provided by NHL.com and ESPN.com