The NHL Seattle expansion team's plan to announce its nickname has been put off until at least the fall because of trademarking issues, local protests on racial injustice and policing, and the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Tod Leiweke told The Seattle Times on Tuesday.
Seattle, which became the 32nd NHL team on Dec. 4, 2018, and is scheduled to begin play in 2021-22, has started work on logos and uniforms involving a variety of potential nicknames but is not close to settling on a decision.
"If you do just one [name], then you've left yourself hostage to any sort of [trademarking] challenge," Leiweke told the newspaper. "So we've had to do multiple [trademarks], and that's about where we are."
NHL Seattle originally targeted its nickname announcement for February or March, but general manager Ron Francis said April 3 that he hoped an announcement would be made "sooner rather than later."
The NHL paused its season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus; that and protests in Seattle on social issues also weighed heavily in NHL Seattle's decision to put its nickname choice on hold, Leiweke said.
"It's not the right time," he said. "[The] Vegas [Golden Knights] did it a year out. We've got ample time, and the thing this organization will never be is tone deaf. So we've got to pick the right time, and we've got to make sure all of our ducks are in a row."
Vegas, which became the 31st NHL team June 22, 2016, announced Golden Knights as its nickname Nov. 23, 2016, and began play in 2017-18. It advanced to the Stanley Cup Final that season and lost to the Washington Capitals in five games.
In January 2019, The Seattle Times polled its readers on what the Seattle nickname should be, with Sockeyes defeating Totems in the final with more than 140,000 votes cast overall. Metropolitans, Steelheads and Kraken rounded out the top five.
Leiweke said the reopening of the New Arena at Seattle Center, where the team will play, is expected to be delayed at least two months to late summer of 2021 because of slowdowns related to the coronavirus. Work on the arena was scheduled to be completed by June 1, 2021, but has been hampered by issues acquiring building materials and enhanced safety measures because of the pandemic.
Leiweke said he expects the arena to be completed in time for Seattle's inaugural NHL game.
"It will certainly be the summer of 2021, the question is when," Leiweke said. "Will it be August? Will it be Sept. 1? Will it be Sept. 15? It's somewhere in there."