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NHL.com players poll: Seattle expansion nickname

Seahawks, Thunderbirds, Pigeons suggested for team that will begin play in 2021-22 season

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

NHL.com asked 48 of the League's top players for their opinions on topics surrounding the game at the 2019 NHL European and North American Player Media Tours in the offseason. An installment of their answers runs each Wednesday. In this edition, we've collected the best answers regarding the nickname of the Seattle NHL expansion team that will begin play in the 2021-22 season.

It seems everyone has an opinion on what the nickname of the new Seattle franchise should be.

NHL players are no different.

General manager Ron Francis said last week that Seattle hopes to announce its nickname in the first quarter or first half of next year.

"I think we're getting close," Francis said at the PrimeTime Sports Management Conference in Toronto. 

Seattle has five yet-to-be-revealed names on its final list, but that short list did not limit the responses from NHL players, who gave answers that ranged from the topical to the traditional to the hilarious.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault knows what it's like to play on a team with a new nickname. Vegas' nickname was a source of constant speculation before it was announced Nov. 22, 2016 -- almost a full year before its first game -- and of much debate even after the Golden Knights started playing.

"I know probably everybody's going to criticize it at first, like the Golden Knights," said Marchessault, laughing. "But I guess the bar is high for Seattle now."

Marchessault said he's not sure what name he would suggest, but he would like to a see a color scheme similar to that of Seattle's NFL team, which wears blue, silver and green.

"I think it would be cool to have the same colors as the Seattle Seahawks, like in the same blue tone there," he said.

Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau went one step further and said the new hockey team should be called the Seahawks.

Nostalgia was on the minds of Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes and Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi, who each went the NBA route by suggesting SuperSonics, the name of Seattle's NBA team from 1967 until it moved to Oklahoma City before the 2008-09 season. 

Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane also mentioned the Seahawks as well as the Thunderbirds, the nickname of Seattle's Western Hockey League team. 

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, who played for Red Deer in the WHL, also suggested Thunderbirds, who have the same colors as the Seahawks.  

"I'm a Western League guy, so I think it'd be cool if they took over the Thunderbirds," Dumba said. "Something along that line. I like how Seattle has that color scheme, too. I think the Thunderbirds follow that, and it'd be cool if the NHL followed suit."

Kane said, "Thunderbirds or something. Something like the Seahawks, right? But a little different."

Hmmm, something to do with birds? 

Kane may be onto something. 

"Pigeons," said Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg, who was stifling a laugh as he said it. "No, I don't know. I'm not good at that type of names."

Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett went in a different direction, channeling the NFL team in Philadelphia.

"Maybe the Eagles or something," he said. "Some type of bird."

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin stayed on the bird board, suggesting the Roosters.

Other members of the animal kingdom were in the mix too.

"Seattle Whales, I guess," Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat said. Stars forward Radek Faksa also suggested Whales. 

Faska's teammate, goalie Ben Bishop, stayed with the nautical theme, riffing off Seattle's world-famous Pike Place Market and its signature fish-tossing spectacle.

"Seattle Fish; something along those lines," he said. "I always think about the fish markets there."

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went down the nostalgia trail, too, citing a former NHL nickname before veering sharply at the last moment. 

"They're a West Coast team," he said. "Maybe, like, the Seattle Whalers or something like that. Yeah, I don't know. A lot of orcas go through by Seattle. 

"What's the building they have? The Space Needle? That wouldn't be the best. The Seattle Space Needles; maybe not the best."

Others also cited various cultural touchstones associated with the area.

St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly incorporated the music genre the city is known for, spearheaded by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam in the 1990s.

"The Seattle Grunge," he said. "I just think Pearl Jam; it started there, all of those guys. That would be cool."

Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene was in the same neighborhood with his suggestion: the Seattle Sound.

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask was inspired either by the city's reputation for year-round precipitation, or perhaps he was a big fan of a certain Dustin Hoffman/Tom Cruise hit movie from 1988.

"Seattle Rainmen," he said, smiling.

New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt, though, was having no part of any it, and was willing to wait until the Seattle brain trust announces its decision early in 2020.

"Oh, pfff, that's so hard," he said. "I don't have a name. I don't even know how people can come up with good names."

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