Could NHL in Seattle spark an amateur hockey boom? (Crosscut)

As members of the Seattle recreational hockey team Trash Pandas prepared for their first game earlier this month, the subject of the National Hockey League came up. This was the first time all 16 players were in the same room, let alone competing together. But in the middle of pulling on their jerseys and reviewing league rules, they started debating what the name of Seattle’s new NHL team should be.

Some excitedly pushed for “The Kraken,” while others suggested that “The Totems” or “The Sockeyes” would be the best choice. It was a normal enough topic for a group of hockey players. But it was especially relevant for this group, given that some of the players had actually joined the coed league in response to the recent announcement that the National Hockey League would be coming to Seattle.

“The news of Seattle, my new home, getting an NHL team brought my love of hockey to a whole new level,” said Reiner Blanco, 42, who is from Manitoba, Canada. Although a longtime hockey fan, he said the announcement spurred him to start playing for the first time in his life.

After a year of planning and deliberating, the NHL Board of Governors officially voted in favor of the Seattle expansion franchise earlier this month, setting a start date of 2021. The decision is momentous for the city, which hasn’t had a professional hockey team in about a century, and for what appears to be a rapidly budding fan base. When NHL was testing the waters earlier this year, it managed to secure 10,000 season ticket deposits in just 12 minutes.

It is also big news for the area’s recreational and youth hockey industry.

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*Photo by mark6mauno