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The LA Kings: What's in a Name?

Find out how the LA Kings franchise settled upon their official team name in 1966.

by Mike Commito @mikecommito /

A year before the Kings hit the ice for their first season, the LA franchise began its search for a name.

On April 14, 1966, the club announced it would be holding a naming contest to all residents of Southern California, with the winning name scheduled to be revealed the following month.

But when the deadline of May 20th came around, the team was still nameless.

Initially, the club pushed back the announcement citing that there were so many entries that it had to be postponed by a week. Another week came and went, and still, Los Angeles' NHL franchise had no moniker.

By the end of May, the club's owner, Jack Kent Cooke, assured fans that they had settled on a name but could not reveal it yet due to potential copyright problems. While Cooke's attorneys did their due diligence, the waiting continued. 

Shortly after, the team finally declared they would be known as the Kings.

Cooke, who was the driving force behind bringing the NHL to Los Angeles, proclaimed that "we're starting out as the Kings of the NHL and we intend to live up to that."

When the contest began, Cooke said the team was looking for a name that would be representative of the leadership position they planned to take in the league.

"We intend over the years to build a hockey dynasty and we wanted a name that would be properly representative of that," he told the LA Times. 

All told, the team received 7,649 entries, thirty-one of which had Kings on the ballot. Harry J. Mullen, who had the earliest postmark on his submission, won a color TV, a portable AM-FM radio, and two season tickets for the Kings' inaugural campaign in 1967-68. 

Over the course of the contest, Cooke said that the committee, which was comprised of judges from the media, television, and the team's directors, strongly considered eight names.

"I don't think I've ever been as puzzled or, honestly, as frustrated, by anything as I was about naming the team," Cooke admitted to the Van Nuys Valley News. 

There were other entries on the table, but Cooke and the organization did not offer up the names that ended up on the cutting room floor. The most that he divulged was that some of the names were jettisoned because of copyright issues or that they had been used by failed sports organizations in the area or were currently in use by teams in other leagues.

Cooke did note that some "beautiful sounding Spanish names" considered, but ultimately they landed on the Kings because, in his mind, it was the most distinctive. "I don't honestly recall a team being called Kings," Cooke stated at the time of the announcement. 

The fact that none of the other options made their way into the broadsheets, set the Kings apart from their expansion counterparts.

When Philadelphia revealed they would be known as the Flyers later that same summer, the Philadelphia Daily News published some of the other names that merited strong consideration such as the Liberty Bells and Quakers, as well as other proposals that included the Lancers, Royals, Pioneers, and Raiders.

The newspaper even ran some of the less serious suggestions such as the Ice Picks and Scars and Stripes. Although the Ice Picks was certainly tossed in in jest, it would have been a fitting name for a club that would go on to earn the nickname the Broad Street Bullies in the 1970s' for their rough and fearsome style of play. 

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: The Broad Street Bullies reflect on the 40th anniversary of their 1974 #StanleyCup victory. ���

Even when Pittsburgh, the last 1967-expansion team to select a name, announced they would be the Penguins in November 1966, some of the other choices leaked out.

The Post-Gazette noted that names such as the Pioneers, Pipers, and Golden Triangles were considered by the club. The Hornets, the name of Pittsburgh's American Hockey League club, was also reviewed but, given its AHL connection, it was not a viable options.

Of course, from the 26,400 entries that Pittsburgh received, a few were just for laughs. They included the Pussycats, the Crickets, and the Aardvarks. 

More than fifty years after the Kings' belated name reveal, the NHL's Seattle franchise finds itself in a similar position as it looks to land on a name and color scheme in advance of the team's inaugural campaign in 2021-22.

Seattle doesn't begin play for a few more years, but fans have already begun flooding the team's portal with comments about what the team should be called.

Tweet from @Sportsnet: We're still a couple years away from seeing the Seattle franchise make its NHL debut, but plenty of work is being done behind the scenes.

The club anticipates that the name and color scheme will be unveiled in Fall 2019, which will fuel plenty of speculation between now and then on whether they will adopt a familiar moniker such as the Metropolitans, the name of the Seattle-based Pacific Coast Hockey Association club that became the first U.S.-based team to win the Stanley Cup, or something more outside the box like the Kraken. 

Regardless of what direction Seattle goes, the franchise would do well to take a page out of the Kings' book. When LA made its NHL debut, the team sported "Forum Blue" and gold, a regal combination that certainly made them distinctive and gave Jack Kent Cooke the unique name and feel he hoped his team would bring to the league. 

While hockey fans have plenty of ideas about what Seattle should be called, the key will be ensuring that - similar to the Kings - in five decades, it will be difficult to imagine a more fitting name. 

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