Those crazy Kraken

by Eric Nelson

A marine biologist could probably give you a nice lecture on the shared characteristics of the Norwegian Sea and Puget Sound. I’m here to give you one — they both have a Kraken.

That’s thanks to the latest and maybe craziest nickname in pro sports, belonging to the professional hockey team coming to Seattle and bringing with it some Nordic origins that will appeal both to the Northwest’s population of Scandanvian descendants and the Amazon engineers who can afford season tickets. This name emerged specifically from the depths of the Norwegian Sea and showed up on the shores of Elliott Bay.

Seattle Kraken

This is a rare catch for Seattle, but the Kraken isn’t the first Scandinavian-inspired nickname in America’s rich sports marketing heritage. Vikings is certainly the most widely used, including the variations of Vikes and Viks, and Norse or Norsemen have been found at institutions like Luther College and Northern Kentucky University. And who can forget the Swedes from Bethany College in tiny Lindsborg, Kansas, where you can buy a handcrafted Dala Horse down the street from a campus where fans have historically cheered on the “Terrible Swedes.’’

Perhaps the finest team name that tracks with this publication’s heritage, albeit much lesser known, belonged to the Seattle First Covenant Church softball team of the early 2000s that I played for—Svenska Sluggare. We were much, much, much lesser known, I suppose I should say. But all the opposing players, spouses and kids who attended a game at a city park, if they were paying attention, were in fear of a logo inspired by a Swedish matchbox — the mascot was a tomte holding a bat on fire, emblazoned on our yellow jerseys.

But I cede our position as the most Scandinavian of names. The Kraken is definitely en vogue now and the puck will first drop for the Seattle team starting in 2021. I have even bought a sweatshirt.

The Swedish linguists out there might point out that “krake” translates to weakling, so we will make sure to stick with the form Kraken, meaning the mythical sea monster that terrorizes sailors. Some say it looks like a giant squid. Some say that by the time you see it, it’s too late and there’s no chance for you.

Kraken also means octopus — which fits perfect for the hockey tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice after a goal, started by the Detroit Red Wings. I’m not sure what a Red Wing is, but they also have Al the Octopus as a mascot — which should make for a great matchup against the mighty Seattle Kraken. Now I just need to figure out how to get an octopus into the arena, or at least some pickled herring!