What the heck is a “kraken”?

Well, if you’re a resident of Seattle, the sprawling metropolis in the US Pacific Northwest state of Washington, it’s the name of your new team in the National Hockey League.

After starting with a list of roughly 1,200 names and suggestions submitted by the public, team vice-president Heidi Dettmer and her front-office staff whittled them down to five finalists-and “Seattle Kraken” emerged the winner.

“I think that we felt like this is so authentic and noble and we hit all the main things that we really wanted, so we feel really strongly this is the right choice,” Dettmer said in announcing the name on Friday. “I’ve totally fallen in love with this brand and I think our fans will too.”

The kraken is a gigantic cephalopod-like sea monster in Scandinavian folklore. According to Norse legend, it dwells off the coasts of Norway and Greenland and terrorizes seafarers. In Seattle, local legend has it that a kraken-like giant octopus patrols the dark waters of Puget Sound, which fronts the city.

Edgy … and vaguely menacing. Just what you want in an expansion team, which will begin play in the 2021-22 NHL season.

“The kraken represents the fiercest beast in all the world,” the team’s website reads. “Too large and indomitable to be contained by man or finned mammal, it instills one message in all opponents, whether in our waters or theirs: Abandon all hope!”

The team’s primary logo is a tentacle shaped into an ‘S’ in the style of the old Seattle Metropolitans jersey and logo. The Metropolitans were the first US-based team to win the Stanley Cup, way back in 1917. The predominant colors are black-blue complemented by lighter shades of blue.

“We needed a name and look that was noble and (GM) Ron Francis kept hitting that home,” Nic Corbett, the director of NHL relations with Adidas, told Associated Press. “It had to be noble, it had to be strong.”

And it had to fit the city.

“We wanted to make sure it was truly authentic to Seattle, and being a city built by the sea-both figuratively and literally-it works really, really well,” Dettmer said. “It ties in our maritime history with the fans’ rallying cry.”

Seattle will play in the Pacific division, replacing the Arizona Coyotes, who will move to the Central division. The addition will give the NHL 16 teams in both the Eastern and Western conferences.

The Kraken ownership group, which includes renowned Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, was granted the franchise on Dec 4, 2018 after paying a $650 million expansion fee. In addition, the group is financing a $700 million renovation of the downtown Climate Pledge Arena.

Of course, team officials knew there would be some ridicule of the moniker-and it was almost instantaneous.

Within minutes of the announcement, some social media wags were dubbing the home rink the “Krak house” and the team’s fans “Krak heads”, but merchandise featuring the name and logo is already selling briskly, with initial proceeds going to local charities.

The Kraken becomes Seattle’s fourth major pro sports franchise, joining the MLB Mariners, the NFL Seahawks, and the Sounders of Major League Soccer.

The Seattle SuperSonics played in the NBA from 1967 until 2008, when the franchise was transferred to Oklahoma City and renamed the Thunder.

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