Kraken raise Stanley Cup banner for Metropolitans at Climate Pledge Arena

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SEATTLE — The banner unfurled from the rafters at Climate Pledge Arena on Tuesday, about 1 1/2 miles from the site of the old Seattle Arena and more than a century after this city became the first in the United States to win the most cherished trophy in hockey.

“SEATTLE METROPOLITANS,” it said in green, featuring the maroon “S” logo with the letters “S-E-A-T-T-L-E” snaking downward. “STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS 1917.”

The Seattle Kraken, an NHL expansion team playing its second home game, didn’t claim the championship as their own.

They honored the memory of the Metropolitans for those who know and appreciate what that Pacific Coast Hockey Association team accomplished, so new fans could discover Seattle’s rich hockey history and learn more about it, and to serve as reminder of the ultimate goal.

And they did it before a 5-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens, who not only played the Metropolitans for the Cup in 1917 in Seattle as a member of the National Hockey Association but played them for it again in 1919 here as a member of the NHL. The 1919 “world series” or “world’s series,” as the papers called it then, was not completed due to the Spanish flu.

Not counting an exhibition against the Seattle Totems of the former professional Western Hockey League in 1961, this was the Canadiens’ first trip to Seattle in 102 years.

“Montreal’s such an incredible hockey tradition, and everybody knows about it,” Kraken fan Jonathan Wolfgang said. “But so few people know about the Seattle tradition, and to have the chance to spotlight that I think is an exciting opportunity. To have them back and see the red, white and blue out on the ice against the Seattle team is a pretty cool treat.”

The Metropolitans put Seattle on the map as a big-league city at a time when it was a remote outpost yearning to compete with the best. They played in the PCHA from 1915-24, winning five league championships and playing for the Cup three times. They lost the Cup series to the original Ottawa Senators in 1920 on the road.

Frank Foyston, a Hockey Hall of Famer, played for the Metropolitans in all of their nine seasons and was captain of their Cup team. The forward scored 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in four games against the Canadiens in 1917 and 10 points (nine goals, one assist) in five games against them two years later.

The Hockey Hall of Fame brought his sweater, skates and 1917 PCHA MVP trophy, and displayed them on the concourse Tuesday with the sweater of Hap Holmes, another Hockey Hall of Famer, who played goalie for the Metropolitans from 1915-17 and 1918-24.

Wolfgang took a picture next to Foyston’s sweater while wearing a Foyston Kraken jersey. He was so taken by the history, he had visited Foyston’s grave, gone to the site of Seattle Arena and had the jersey made with Foyston’s name, his No. 4 and even a “C” to blend the old with the new.

“I love the history,” said Wolfgang, who grew up in Pittsburgh as a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, moved to Seattle about 10 years ago and had been anticipating the arrival of the NHL. “I’ve seen the Penguins win the Cup twice in person, and to be able to now be in a city that had that kind of heritage and history, it’s just incredible to now have a team.”

Fan after fan took pictures of the memorabilia. Others knew the history, like Paul Kim, who helped keep the Metropolitans’ legacy alive by securing the rights to the name and logo, and those who wore Metropolitans gear Kim recreated. Another group was hearing about the Metropolitans for the first time.

“I’m amazed at how much the NHL and the team invested into the night,” Kim said. “Having the Hockey Hall of Fame over here with the artifacts is amazing.”

Video: History of professional hockey in Seattle

The Kraken showed a four-minute video culminating in the banner unveiling. It was written by Kevin Ticen, author of a book on the Metropolitans called “When It Mattered Most: The Forgotten Story of America’s First Stanley Cup Champions, and the War to End All Wars,” and it was narrated by Cory Daniels, grandson of Frank Foyston.

Daniels spoke as if the late great player was speaking himself.

“Use it as inspiration,” Daniels said as he announced the banner. “Two eras a century apart but forever intertwined.”

Then Daniels and Barbara Foyston Daniels, daughter of Frank Foyston, stood on a perch overlooking the fans, flanked by Ron Francis, a Hockey Hall of Famer and the Kraken general manager, and Jerry Bruckheimer, a Hollywood producer and a member of the Kraken ownership group.

“Tonight, we raise their banner to fly in our arena forever, to preserve the Metropolitan legacy,” Bruckheimer said, turning to Barbara Foyston Daniels.

“Go Kraken!” she said.

With that, Seattle’s hockey history, from the Metropolitans, to minor league teams like the Eskimos, Seahawks, Olympics, Ironmen, Bombers and Totems, to the Thunderbirds of the junior WHL, to the Kraken, had been connected.

“I think it’s important for our fans to know you guys can be amazing hockey fans because you have been,” said Jonny Greco, senior vice president of game presentation and live entertainment. “That lineage is in this market already. It’s in the fiber of the society here. It’s been here for a while. This isn’t new. This is just …

“It’s returned home.”

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