SEATTLE (AP) – The day began with Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato hoisting a deep blue flag on the iconic Space Needle, with the tentacle-shaped “S” blowing over the city.
And from then on, Seattle was just flooded with everything Kraken on Saturday to celebrate the home opener against Vancouver.
Planes flew over the city and raised banners. The statues of Ken Griffey Jr. in front of T-Mobile Park and Rachel the Pig in Pike Place Market were delighted in Kraken gear. It has been three years since the franchise was recognized by the NHL in late 2018.
Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, once filled with NBA fans on game nights more than a decade ago, was crammed with octopus sweaters and hours before the puck was dropped. Bars were packed. Beer was being enjoyed and the Emerald City was ready for the NHL debut.
“Based on walking the streets of Seattle all day today and seeing everyone in octopus clothing and the buzzer in the air walking around this amazing building,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “This is a great night, and not just for Seattle or the Kraken. It’s a great night for the NHL. ”
The 32nd franchise began with five street games before its home opener under the umbrella of the Climate Pledge Arena against rival Canucks. And before the first puck drop, Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke announced that number 32 is being retired from the franchise in honor of the 32,000 season ticket depositors who helped make the Kraken a reality.
It was the first time since the Stanley Cup Final in 1919 that an NHL team had competed against a Seattle-based club in the city when Montreal went in a series against the Seattle Metropolitans in a series caused by the influenza Epidemic was interrupted.
When the Kraken players stepped onto the ice to warm up before the game at 6.30 p.m., most of the fans were already in their seats to take their first personal look at their team. There were fans outside the arena looking into the building through the windows at the north end.
It was less than 12 hours ago when Kraken players first ran on the arena ice. The arena opened its doors this week with two concerts that kept the ice covered until a few hours before the first puck drop.
“Tonight, being at home in front of our audience for the first time here in Seattle is different. I think it’s a good thing to be excited, to have energy is a good thing that you just have to put to good use, ”said Seattle captain Mark Giordano.
The pre-game production to get Seattle into the league didn’t match the spectacle of what Vegas brought into the league in 2017. But there are some decidedly Seattle aspects to the game presentation, from using an old Washington State Ferries horn when goals are scored to Nirvana’s track “Lithium” as the Kraken Tor song.
“You have to prepare for a place like Columbus because the cannon goes off and scares you,” joked Seattle’s trainer Dave Hakstol. “You use the word unique and that’s the feel of this building in every way. This is a really unique building. “
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