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Seattle Kraken CEO initially had no idea what a Kraken was, but listened to fans

The Space Needle as the Seattle Kraken team flag is hung from above on July 23, 2020 in Seattle. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Love it or hate it, Seattle’s new NHL team will be called the Seattle Kraken based on the legendary monster in seafaring folklore. Tod Leiweke, CEO of the Kraken, joined the Dori Monson Show on KIRO Radio to discuss the name choice and the reaction.

“We knew two years ago that not everyone is gonna love the things we do. Perhaps the most subjective is a team name, and the baby came home from the hospital almost two years ago, and we hadn’t named it. So now the baby has a name,” he said.

Dori couldn’t help but defend the name choice in a way unique to him.

“Look, when this baby came home from the hospital, my mom named me Dori. So I don’t have any room to criticize anybody else’s name,” he joked.

It’s official: NHL Seattle team is called the Seattle Kraken

When Leiweke first heard the name suggestion, he had no idea what it was, but listened to fans to get a sense of what they were looking for in a hockey team.

“When this started out and I first heard the Kraken name I’m like, ‘What in the heck is it?’ … But we just became disciplined listeners, because I have learned in this business that if you listen to your fans, you can’t go wrong. It sounds corny to say but it creates an environment where the fans can truly express their passions,” he said.

“It transfers to the players so that when a player pulls on — in hockey they don’t call it a jersey, they call it a sweater — so when our players pull on that Kraken sweater, I think they’re gonna feel the passion of our fans. In this crazy business, that is often the difference that is the margin between success and failure. So now when players come into Seattle and play football games here, the visiting team they know even before they get off the plane that they’re kind of up against it.”

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Leiweke says getting to this point was a long, difficult process, but with the passion of the fandom, the more flexible NHL expansion team rules that enables a new team to start off at a better place, and the reaction to the name, he’s feeling pretty good about the future.

“The future for the franchise is really bright, and this has been hard to do, a privately financed arena, not a penny of public money in it. To take a building that many had left for dead and to save the roof and hold a 40 million pound roof in place while you build a new arena under it, and then to get hit with a global pandemic, social unrest and everything we’ve been going through.”

“We had a good day yesterday, and we kind of needed one,” he said.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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