Is It Time To Call Seattle, “Hockey Town”?

The Seattle Seahawks have been so strong in the regular season for almost ten years. For the past several, they have also severely underperformed in the playoffs. 

The Sonics left town in 2008. They might return, but it’s not clear when. 

The Mariners are still technically a professional sports franchise in Seattle, though many are starting to question whether that categorization is appropriate, given their performance in the last … twenty years.

Perhaps it’s time we started thinking of ourselves as a hockey town. 

This is because in October of this year, Seattle’s new NHL franchise will come to life. That’s right. We’re going to unleash a Kraken of sorts on America. Hopefully they will be more effective than a certain set of failed lawsuits meant to overturn a presidential election, but I digress. 

And yes the Kraken will play in the brand new Climate Pledge Arena, a state of the art facility that sits beneath a 1962 roof built in the Googie architectural style.

Climate Pledge Arena will feature all sorts of amenities with sustainability in mind, from water conservation to organic food offerings.

In a perfect world, all of this will come together just as the pandemic subsides and as Seattle’s nascent light rail system expands with several new stations. Yes, you already have that system in place in the PDX. We are painfully aware. And, no, we are not just an imperfect version of you.

Jokes and details aside, what you may not realize is that Seattle has had a dedicated hockey community for some time. 

Its clubhouse is The Angry Beaver, a sports bar in North Seattle. The Angry Beaver dubs themselves as Seattle’s only hockey bar, and there is little evidence to contradict that assertion. On a busy, Before Times night during hockey season, the Beaver was packed to fire-code capacity with enthusiastic fans in jerseys representing just about every NHL team. In fact, crowds often spilled out onto the Greenwood Avenue sidewalk in front of the bar, with boisterous fans enjoying themselves. 

The atmosphere of the Beaver is exactly what you would expect: cozy, comfortable, and anything but pretentious. The inexpensive and filling food has a decidedly Canadian feel to it. Needless to say, poutine abounds. Icy beer flows like melting glaciers. Bloody Marias outnumber their American counterparts two-to-one, or at least it can feel that way.

The Beaver is no stranger to hard times, and the pandemic is no exception. There’s currently a GoFundMe running to help keep them afloat. But like a hockey player in a fight who refuses to get knocked down, the Beaver continues to continue, perhaps in part because they are no stranger to trauma.

In 2016, after closing time one night, a gas explosion across the street leveled three businesses and blew out windows for blocks in various directions. The owner, Timothy Pipes, told the Seattle Times that had he not been standing in front of the heavy front door, he might not have made it out alive, since the blast blew out all the front windows and shattered liquor bottles behind the bar. If that’s not a metaphor for perseverance and luck, I don’t know what is.

We know that life is not the same as it used to be. It will be different still if and when we can put the pandemic behind us. Rather than long for the past, we could try imagining a future made up of something new. 

A new arena, a new sport, a stalwart sports bar and a tight knit but welcoming community. Congregating together in public, ideally with no masks and, more importantly, no fear of getting sick. A game at Climate Pledge preceded or followed by a stop at The Angry Beaver.

Some will say that there’s so many things that need to happen between now and then that there’s no point even talking about it. Hogwash. Let’s start filling our heads with millions of things we want to do in the future. That way when we get there, we will know what to do.

About Paul Redman 98 Articles
Paul Redman is a writer and chef in Seattle who grew up in the Midwest. His work has appeared in print and online, including San Francisco magazine, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Contrary. He eats too many chicken wings and cracks way too many dad jokes and food puns. Follow him on Twitter @predman.

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