Possible Seattle NHL Team Names: Evergreens? Kraken?

Seattle doesn’t even have a National Hockey League team yet – they were invited to apply for an expansion franchise on December 7 – but that hasn’t stopped speculation on what the league’s 32nd team might be named.

As I did before the Vegas Golden Knights’ name was announced, I’ve been keeping an eye on domain registrations.  Most of the names that have come up over the last several weeks have been purchased by people who are known domain speculators, meaning they don’t tell us much about the direction any future ownership group might be heading.  Yesterday, however, an interesting batch of domains were registered.

By my count, 38 domains representing 13 different possible names were registered under the name of Christina Song.  Ms. Song, according to her LinkedIn profile, is General Counsel at Oak View Group, who won the bid to redevelop Seattle’s Key Arena on December 4.  The domains were registered via an email address for a lawyer at Gibson Dunn.  That firm assisted Oak View Group in the Key Arena bid process.

Does this mean that one of the 13 names is certain to take the ice for the NHL’s 2020-21 season?  No.  The franchise hasn’t even been applied for yet.  The ownership group hasn’t even been formed (though names that might be involved have been tossed around).  There is the distinct possibility that this is nothing.

That said, someone so close to the process applying for so many related domains is worth noting.  As such, here are the 13 possibilities:

Seattle Cougars
Seattle Eagles
Seattle Emeralds
Seattle Evergreens
Seattle Firebirds
Seattle Kraken
Seattle Rainiers
Seattle Renegades
Seattle Sea Lions
Seattle Seals
Seattle Sockeyes
Seattle Totems
Seattle Whales

It’s an interesting list with a lot of nicknames we’ve seen before.

The Seattle Totems were a WHL and CHL team that expected to jump to the NHL in 1976 but failed due to ownership issues.  The Seattle Rainiers, meanwhile, were a minor league baseball team that ceased operations to make room for the Seattle Mariners.

Seals was previously used for the NHL’s failed Oakland franchise, while Eagles was the name the original Ottawa Senators went by when they relocated to St. Louis for their final season.  Cougars was the original name of the Detroit Red Wings franchise, chosen in honor of the Victoria Cougars, from whom much of their roster was purchased.

Additionally, Firebirds is currently used by the OHL’s Flint team.  Last year we saw the Vegas organization claim that the OHL’s London Knights blocked them from being the “Las Vegas Knights” (a name that they later conceded was never really an option), so the recent history of a potential NHL team using an OHL name is messy.

All of that said, registering this block of domains would cost about $400, so it’s not exactly breaking the bank for a group that’s investing $600 million renovating an arena.  They could do this just to keep their options open.  It is curious, though.

Update, 4:15 PM: There’s been an interesting twist in this story, as sometime after I checked the Whois records – which show domain ownership, among other things – for the 38 domains, they were all switched to proxy registrations, removing the true registrant from the record.

For the record, both of my rounds of Whois checks (this morning around 8:30 AM  and this afternoon) were through the ICANN website.  All of the domains show as having been registered yesterday for two years.

The following is the full list of 38 domains:


Green to Represent Red Wings at All-Star Game

Slightly-surprising news today as it was announced that defenseman Mike Green would be the Red Wings’ representative at the All-Star Game.

While Dylan Larkin has been the Red Wings’ MVP through the first half of the season, there were too many better forwards in the Atlantic Division.  Green’s 24 points are tops among the team’s blueliners, making him a worthy choice.

The All-Star Game is January 28 in Tampa.  The league’s trade deadline is just four weeks later, on February 26th.  As he’s probably Detroit’s most-valued trade asset, it’s possible that the team’s All-Star representative won’t be a Red Wing one month later.

Wings Send Forward Wilson to Buffalo

The Detroit Red Wings announced that forward Scott Wilson was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

The move essentially makes the return from Riley Sheahan‘s trade to Pittsburgh (along with a fifth round pick) a third round pick and a fifth round pick.

Unless another move is made, the Red Wings now have twelve forwards on the roster, with Luke Witkowski eligible to return from his ten-game suspension in two more games.

After a brutal weekend featuring 6-3 and 10-1 losses to the division-rival Montreal Canadiens, could this be a move to clear a roster spot?  I’m not sure calling up someone like Evgeny Svechnikov is the answer.  This is a team with a lot of issues, a lone call-up isn’t going to make that much difference.

That said, getting anything for Wilson, who probably didn’t have a long-term role in Detroit, is decent.

Red Wings/Flames Morning After: Fights, Suspensions, and Other Fun

I can’t see a way that the Red Wings’ Luke Witkowski doesn’t get suspended for ten games after he left the bench to go after Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk last night.  The rule is simply too cut and dry.  Three steps earlier, while he’s still on the ice?  All clear.  Two feet on the bench?  He’s gone.

Of course, Tkachuk wouldn’t have given him that little jab three steps earlier.  The whole point of it was to hit him after he was on the bench, once Tkachuk was theoretically safe from reprisal.

Tkachuk’s move was a bit like a little brother on a road trip, sitting in the back seat declaring “I’m not touching you!” Big brother Witkowski, rather than waiting for dad to threaten to drive the car off the cliff, turned around and walloped him, consequences be damned, because Tkachuk deserved it.

I think the officials know Tkachuk deserved it, hence the heavy penalization for what was otherwise a love tap.  But that doesn’t save Witkowski from the punishment that’s coming.

Over the years I’ve made it clear that I hate that cheap, after-the-whistle, “I don’t want to fight but I want to get a jab in” nonsense that gets players praised for being an “agitator.”  As such, I’d love to see Tkachuk get the book thrown at him.  I don’t see it happening though.  With that in mind, I’m absolutely fine with Witkowski taking care of it himself and serving whatever penalty he gets.

On the Red Wings’ Blueline Depth and Future Callups

Last week I wrote about how the Red Wings’ then-upcoming road trip through Western Canada, specifically Sunday afternoon’s tilt with the Edmonton Oilers and last night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, might give them an opportunity to get a prospect such as Joe Hicketts into the lineup.

My thinking was that with Danny DeKeyser eligible for long-term injured reserve, a roster spot and cap space would be available.  Combined with road games on consecutive nights, the team might have wanted to rest someone (I was thinking Niklas Kronwall), giving a chance for Hicketts to step into the lineup.

We know now that that didn’t happen.  While the Wings won both of those games, it still concerns me a little.

What this trip seems to have shown us is that Luke Witkowski is the team’s eighth defenseman.  He’s also the 13th forward but I’m not worried about getting him in the lineup, I’m looking at how he blocks others.

It appears to me that the Red Wings are not going to call up a defenseman when Witkowski is available.  That means that to get someone like Hicketts into the lineup, three injuries need to happen, either three defensemen or two defensemen and a forward.

Right now Detroit has only one blueliner hurt.  If another was, or needed to be rested, Witkowski would step in.  If a third defenseman got hurt, it would open up a spot.  If a forward got hurt, Witkowski would shift there and his blueline spot would open up.

That final scenario could be further complicated, though, as David Booth could take over for an injured forward while Witkowski continued to skate on defense.  This means it might take the right combination of four injuries for one of Grand Rapids’ defensemen to get called up.

Obviously I could be reading too much into one road trip.  Maybe Hicketts didn’t get a look because the Griffins were playing on Sunday and the team figured he should stay there.  I don’t know.  But it seems to me like it’s going to take a lot for one of the Red Wings’ prospects to get a chance in Detroit this season.

On Hicketts, DeKeyser, and Kronwall

Last weekend, Katie Strang of the Athletic did a feature on Grand Rapids Griffins’ defenseman Joe Hicketts.  A notable item from it is the assertion of Daniel Cleary that Hicketts nearly made the Red Wings’ roster out of training camp.

“He was close to making our team this year,” said longtime Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary, now a director of player development with the organization. “Very, very damn close.”

Yesterday, Peter Flynn from Winging it in Motown ran with that, suggesting that Hicketts should be in the Detroit lineup with Danny DeKeyser now expected to miss enough time to go on long-term injured reserve.

I agree with Flynn.  It was understandable to not bring Hicketts up when DeKeyser went down because he wasn’t expected to have to go on LTIR, which means there wouldn’t have been enough cap space for the call-up.  Now that we know DeKeyser will miss at least ten more days (and four more games), it’s time to give Hicketts a look.

That said, this is the Red Wings we’re talking about.  They’re not going to sit Niklas Kronwall or Jonathan Ericsson for being (relatively) terrible because the vets on this team are allowed to play through their issues.  They may swap Hicketts in for Xavier Ouellet or Nick Jensen but my gut feeling is that’s not the change fans are clamoring for.

There is an in for Hicketts, however.  Last season the Red Wings brass said they wanted to limit Kronwall’s playing time in certain situations and, while they didn’t say as much coming into this season, one has to think it still holds true.  One of those situations just happens to be coming in a week, with the Wings headed through Western Canada and playing on back-to-back nights in Edmonton and Vancouver.

The Red Wings could easily use that opportunity to get a look at Hicketts without stepping on any of their veterans’ toes.

It’s telling that Hicketts hasn’t been called up yet.  It’ll be even more telling if he doesn’t get a look early next week out west.

Update – 10/31, 12:00 PM: WIIM’s Prashanth Iyer shows that my eye test of Kronwall and Ericsson doesn’t seem to stand up.

With that the case, and knowing that the Red Wings aren’t going to sit Trevor Daley or Mike Green in favor of Hicketts, you’re looking at benching Nick Jensen or Xavier Ouellet to make room.  Now they’ve got the room to do that but do you?  I don’t know if I should, but I hesitate.  Maybe that’s more of a failing eye test thing, though.

Red Wings Deal Sproul, Sheahan in Separate Deals

A day after agreeing to terms on a new contract with restricted free agent forward Andreas Athanasiou, the Red Wings cleared salary cap space for his deal by trading defenseman Ryan Sproul and forward Riley Sheahan in separate deals.

The Sproul deal is strictly to clear up the roster spot he was holding down in Grand Rapids.  With Sproul on the Griffins, prospect Filip Hronek was stuck as the team’s seventh defenseman, only playing one of their first five games (and even then it was a night they went with seven defensemen and eleven forwards).  Puempel is a former first-round pick from the Ottawa organization but in all likelihood has no future in Detroit.

Sheahan had long been rumored to go to the Penguins, as they were looking for a third-line center.  The original deal was supposedly Sheahan for defenseman Derrick Pouliot but Pouliot was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks at the start of the season.  Wilson is a better pick-up for the Red Wings as – if nothing else – he doesn’t contribute to the defensive logjam across the organization.

It appears that Wilson will remain with the Red Wings.  If that’s the case, David Booth could be assigned to the Griffins.  He will not need to clear waivers as he did that to start the season.

I look at it as this…  Sproul for Puempel clears the logjam a bit and that’s good, though I expect Vili Saarijarvi to remain stuck in Toledo because he should play there instead of sitting as the Griffins seventh defenseman.  Sheahan was the piece on the existing roster that could bring back the most in trade and still clear cap space for Athanasiou, so that’s a good deal, too, no matter what happens with Wilson.

Not a bad set of deals for Ken Holland.

Red Wings Agree to Terms with Athanasiou

Restricted free agent forward Andreas Athanasiou is ending his holdout, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with the Red Wings.

As McKenzie notes, the deal has yet to be signed as that would start a 24-hour countdown before the Red Wings would have to be cap-compliant.  Detroit does not currently have space under the salary cap for Athanasiou’s new deal, so they’ll have to make a move to fit him in.

During the preseason there was rumored to be a deal in place between the Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins to send Riley Sheahan to Pittsburgh for defenseman Derrick Pouliot and a draft pick.  Pittsburgh instead dealt Pouliot to the Vancouver Canucks.

Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser is currently injured.  Theoretically he could go on long-term injured reserve to clear room under the cap, but that would require him to miss ten games and his injury doesn’t seem to be bad enough to necessitate that.

Another option could be trading a defenseman to a team with injury trouble, such as the Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins, but it would have to be part of a bigger deal as Detroit would have to replace the defenseman lost via trade, which wouldn’t help the cap situation (though it would ease the blue line logjam).

Athanasiou will not join the team immediately.  He will return from Switzerland, where he’s been training, and will need to acquire a work visa.

The one-year deal means that Athanasiou will be a restricted free agent again next summer, though he will have arbitration rights that he did not have leading up to this deal.

On the Blueline Logjam

It feels like this is a topic that comes up every year.  Throughout the entire Red Wings organization, there is a logjam at defense.

It’s been this way for several seasons.  The initial answer was that the team would trade defensive depth for help at forward but those trades never materialized.

Other moves have happened.  They did lose Alexey Marchenko on waivers to Toronto last season and then traded Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers.  Nathan Paetsch and Conor Allen chose to leave the Griffins for Rochester.  They also added Trevor Daley and sometimes-defenseman Luke Witkowski in Detroit while Filip Hronek and Vili Saarijarvi graduated from juniors to Grand Rapids.

This led to last night, where Hronek and Saarijarvi, two of the organization’s top prospects, couldn’t even crack the lineup for the Griffins’ home opener.

Some of that is politics, I’m sure.  You don’t send Ryan Sproul to Grand Rapids to have him sit there and the other five guys all played on the Griffins’ championship-winning team last year, so of course you dress them for the banner-raising.  But that you have to deal with issues like that shows a bigger problem.

When healthy, the Red Wings expect to be playing Danny DeKeyser,
Daley, Jonathan EricssonMike GreenNiklas Kronwall, and Nick Jensen.  Xavier Ouellet slots in as the seventh defenseman, and he filled in on opening night with Kronwall hurt, while Witkowski is your thirteenth forward or eighth defenseman (depending on injuries).

That pushes Ryan Sproul down to Grand Rapids, where he, Brian Lashoff, and Dylan McIlrath are the vets on the blueline.  That’s three spots out of six taken up by players who are legitimately no longer prospects.  Dan Renouf and Robbie Russo, who both made it into games in Detroit last season, come next, followed by Joe Hicketts.  Hronek and Saarijarvi have nowhere to play.

Oh, sure, there will be injuries.  And players will rotate in and out of the lineup.  But is that how you want these guys to start their pro careers?  Slotting in irregularly, hoping someone else gets hurt so they get a chance?

The organization has made no move to fix this.  In fact, they’ve only added to it by bringing back players such as Lashoff and McIlrath, opting for veteran leadership in Grand Rapids over a chance for their prospects to play.  In fact, if the rumored Riley Sheahan for Derrick Pouliot trade had gone through, it would have only made the situation worse.

This has been an issue for several seasons.  I can’t help but think that this is the year it becomes a big problem.

LCA Opener Thoughts

I’ve had a hard time coming up with words to describe the Red Wings’ first game at Little Caesars Arena.

The finale at Joe Louis Arena was an event.  The game wasn’t great but it wasn’t about the game, it was about the arena, and saying goodbye.

The opener at Little Caesars Arena wasn’t an event.  But it also didn’t feel like it was about the game.  It kind of just was there.

I would have regretted not going, I’m sure, especially given that the opportunity was there.  But there wasn’t any particularly in-arena fanfare like an opening ceremony or anything (aside from a ceremonial faceoff) and there wasn’t anything important about the game.

Is it a good place to watch a hockey game?  Absolutely.  Not a bad seat in the house, it seems, though the upper bowl seats behind the gondolas aren’t as good.  It’s also expensive (ticket prices and parking prices have been raised), traffic around the arena sucks, and the team isn’t very exciting.  So if it’s about the hockey, you can pay more to see what you could have seen last year.  And if it’s about the arena, you can pay more to come not watch a hockey game, which doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, but it seems like a lot of people did it yesterday given the empty seats.

I don’t know.  It’s a gorgeous place but I’m not sure that’s enough for me right now.