Prior to tonight, the last professional, top-level, Lord Stanley winning game of Hockey played in Seattle by a team representing Seattle was on February 20th, 1924.
After that, the Metropolitans were told that their arena had to be turned into a parking lot. Pete Muldoon, beloved coach of the Metros, fought tooth and nail to save his team of which he’d become so attached and so beloved for, but it didn’t matter in the end.
The Metros, the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, were no more.
From then on, a clock began. A clock that watched the city it hung over change over and over and over again, the Pacific Northwest shaping itself in brand new ways. It is a clock that will stop at 7:15-7:30, assuming pre-game ceremonies and anthems run long. In a few short hours, Professional Hockey in Seattle will return, in the form of the Seattle Kraken.
In that time; 97 years, 35,405 days, and 849,720 Hours, the world changed so many times and in such rapid succession it’s almost impressive to think these Kraken now represent the same city.
- A City of less than 250,000 built by prospectors and fishermen now routinely flirts with over a quarter of a million.
- A whole second world war, after we promised ourselves we wouldn’t do that again.
- Polio, once a scourge on the world at the time of the Metros, being almost completely eradicated.
- The concept of the moving picture went from less than a few minutes as a neat curiosity became a dominant form of both entertainment and art.
- The PCHA and Then-WHL folded, and then the NHL came to subsume the entire hockey-watching public, including high profile western conference teams that didn’t just prove successful, but championship material.
- The Totems, beloved as they were, came and went, leaving legends of Seattle hockey clamoring for more.
- A professional football (both kinds), baseball, and basketball team all set up shop at one point in Seattle. A couple of them even ended up becoming champions themselves.
- The Horseless Carriage gave way to the Automobile. Whether or not that’s a good thing is still up for debate. It paled in comparison to the concept of jet-powered flight that would soon supplement it.
- The very concept of a computer went from science fiction, to taking up a room, to taking up half the space of your pocket.
- We went to the rock that floats above the earth.
- They built a big tower on Broad Street.
But whatever the time period and technology, that doesn’t matter. Metropolitan or Kraken, they will still represent the same city. A city that has been filled with fans clamoring for hockey. Fans that have fought Pete Muldoon’s battle just as hard and for far, far longer are now at long last gaining redemption, and getting a glimpse of what he saw. What “Seattle Hockey” can mean.
And boy was it a long wait.
Many of whom adopted other teams, obviously. That’s fine, and in fact it’s healthy. 97 years is a long, long time, and it’s important to try and build a relationship with the sport. One that seems so close and yet so far. Some of you might be T-Bird fans who shuffle down to Kent every weekend or so for a hot dog and a game, some of you might be Canucks fans exhausted from years of that team’s issues. Some of you might just be the casual audience looking for a local team to come in and take your interest. All of that is fine. Because you will become part of the Kraken’s first game as well.
Tonight, hundreds of TVs, computer screens, and cell phones across Washington state will probably dig through their cable packages to find ROOT Sports or ESPN+, turn on the game, and plant the seeds to become Seattle Kraken fans. Their kids will watch and see Seattle Kraken hockey.
It will be their team, just as it will be yours. And you should never forget this feeling. As they become yours for the first time.
Because it was one that fans like you have been fighting like animals for and eventually, finally, got. We will all receive the special rite of so many few people get to be part of, and it will not matter where exactly you are when you do it. If you’re going to sit in your Lay-Z-Boy next to your SO, alone in your dorm room over in UW ignoring homework, in a bar in Belltown with a drink you’re pretty sure tastes like how soap smells but you liked the name so you had to get it, or being one of those lucky 17,000 taking a seat in Climate Pledge Arena for game one of the Kraken’s inaugural season, you will have that moment. You will be part of the lucky few (big picture-wise, anyway) who get to say “I remember the Kraken’s first game!” some thirty-forty years down the road. You can annoy your kids, your brother and sister, your Significant Other with it, or squirrel it away forever. That is a rare feeling, seeing something familiar, yet new. It will be yours forever. And you should cherish that.
Because in a few years time, we’ll probably be watching preseason with moderate interest wondering if [x prospect here] can play with Matt Beniers or Ryker Evans, if [new player here] gets along well with who will by then be the old guard of the Blue, Blue, another blue, and a thin stripe of red. It will be routine then, we might even get used to the idea that the Kraken will be here forever.
But this year? This year we should enjoy the simple pleasure of 82 games of hockey. 41 of whom will be in Seattle...for Seattle, for the first time in 97 years, 35405 days, and 849,720 hours. Give or take.
A privilege born of a longstanding fight started by Coach Muldoon, and re-started by Guyle Fielder and thousands of fans across this gorgeous state. This one, more than any other game this year, regardless of result, is for them.
And for you.
Let’s go Kraken.