It didn’t take long for online merchandise shoppers to start snatching up the Kraken upon its release.
Online retail giant Fanatics, the NHL’s official retail partner, reported Friday that national sales of Seattle Kraken merchandise were already 50% higher than what the Vegas Golden Knights had over their initial 24 hours of making team items available back in 2017. In fact, Kraken merchandise occupied four of the top-five top-selling spot across all sports and all Fanatics-run online platforms as of midday.
“They’re the No. 1 selling team across all sports today,’’ Fanatics spokesman Seth Schlechter said.
Kraken-branded items went online nationally late Thursday night after NHL Seattle announced it had selected its team name from the mythical sea creature depicted for hundreds of years in novels, poetry and Hollywood movies. Schlechter said the team has been the biggest seller across all of Florida-based Fanatics’ platforms, which include Fanatics.com, official league e-commerce websites it runs for the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB and MLS as well as those for more than 150 professional and college teams.
Word of the brisk sales is a positive early sign for a team that took a bit of a gamble going with a non-traditional name choice that had provoked intense debate among fans for more than two years prior to Thursday’s announcement.
“To be honest with you, I think that it’s really a validation of the fanbase here,” Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said Friday of the early sales reports. “Since I’ve come here, people have been polite but at times dismissive of this being a potentially great market for the NHL. And I think, at every turn, our fans haven’t let us down.”
Leiweke added that the team’s waiting list for season tickets grew by several thousand after Thursday’s announcement.
“We know we have fans all across North America, just like the Mariners, the Seahawks and the Sounders and the Storm. They’re regional teams and they’re powerful brands, but this is one of the great sports markets in the U.S. and we’re going to try to take our rightful place.”
The top-selling Kraken items, according to Fanatics, include a Kraken navy distressed T-shirt, a Kraken black Core Flex hat and men’s and women’s primary logo V-neck hoodies.
The team on Thursday announced its own e-commerce store, www.releasethekrakenstore.com, would sell merchandise with “Release the Kraken!” on it. The catchphrase comes from a line by actor Liam Neeson in the 2010 movie reprise of “Clash of the Titans” — originally a 1981 film that also had a Kraken monster within it.
The team said full proceeds are going to various nonprofit youth groups through Aug. 21. The site had more than 2 million page views before crashing Thursday due to demand but was back up Friday.
After that, the site will be disbanded and a local team store created. The Kraken would keep revenue from all merchandise sold through that store, while national sales through Fanatics are shared equally among the league’s teams.