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Seattle Kraken specialty logo celebrates Black hockey history

A black hockey jersey with a big 'S' on the front with the colors green, yellow, and red within it. On the arm is the number 32 and the Space Needle Anchor logo turned into a peace sign.
Seattle Kraken
Artist Barry Johnson was inspired by the history of the Colored Hockey League and used the Pan-African flag colors in his design.

The Seattle Kraken logo will look a little different Monday night. Replacing the light blue in the team’s logo will be the colors of the Pan-African flag. Monday marks their celebration of Black Hockey History.

As fans enter Climate Pledge Arena to see the Kraken play the Boston Bruins, they’ll notice the new temporary logo projected onto the ice and the jumbotrons. And at the fan shop, they'll find special edition pins, pucks and other merch featuring the design by local artist Barry Johnson.

"I started to look at an expressionist pattern that kind of took those traditional greens, the yellow, the black and the red, and started to patternize it across the already existing logo," Johnson said.

On a black background, it has a sort of three-dimensional look. Johnson said before creating the design, he didn’t know much about the history of Black hockey players. Through research he learned about the Colored Hockey League which was founded in 1895 — the NHL wasn’t founded until 1917.

"I really got excited about that because I'm like ‘oh,’ we've been doing this for a long time," Johnson said.

Kyle Boyd is the Kraken’s director of fan development and helps oversee the theme nights. He is from Minnesota and grew up being one of the few Black kids he knew who played hockey.

"I often didn't see these types of moments of acknowledgment or reflection or celebration, coming from NHL clubs," Boyd said. "I think about how members of our community, whether they play hockey or might be fans or just saw it on the streets and thought it looked cool, how they may feel empowered or encouraged."

But when the lights go out, and the Kraken team takes the ice, there will be one place where the theme night logo will be noticeably missing: on the players’ jerseys. The NHL banned specialty jerseys from being worn on ice after several players refused to wear them for a Pride night.

"The largest platform they had to showcase them was during warmups during an actual game," ESPN hockey writer Ryan S. Clark said.

Clark said the ban on specialty jerseys took an opportunity away from teams' ability to show support for different communities. And that it spoke to the NHL’s lack of commitment to inclusivity. In comparison, he said the Kraken made diversity a core tenet since day one.

"They made history by hiring J.T. Brown as a color commentator, who became the first Black TV in-game color commentator, and Everett Fitzhugh, his hire being the first Black team radio announcer," Clark said.

Clark said if the NHL wants to grow its fanbase like they say want to, they might consider making diversity a priority like the Kraken have with events like Black Hockey History Night.

Grace Madigan covers arts and culture with a focus on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.