Changes are afoot in the NHL jersey game.
More NHL sweater news will surely populate hockey feeds as the offseason continues, but one piece of news that many fans may not be looking forward to seeing are the new and returning jersey patch sponsorships that will adorn the right chest area of many NHL players this season.
Thankfully, it won’t be all corporate doom and gloom.
Besides sponsorships, the league also allows each individual team to enter into non-corporate partnership agreements for their jersey patches.
Only one NHL team has thus far announced such a partnership with an Indigenous group.
The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe is recognized by the United States as a tribal successor to the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup people who inhabited Central Puget Sound for thousands of years before non-Indian settlement.
It has also been recognized — for pretty much as long as their local professional hockey club has existed — by the Seattle Kraken.
From pre-game land acknowledgements to an on-ice performance from the Muckleshoot Canoe Family singing group this past December, the Kraken have not been shy about uplifting Indigenous people and their stories.
Mari Horita, Vice president of community engagement and social impact for the Kraken, said last year that they began reaching out to local tribal leaders and organizations long before the team even played a single NHL game.
“Hockey has not historically been the most representative sport. That’s not a secret,” Morita said.
With the recently announced jersey patch partnership that begins during the 2023-24 NHL season, the Kraken have extended their work to the sweaters their players wear on the ice.
The patch consists of the words ‘Muckleshoot’ sitting atop a sky-blue backdrop and ‘Indian Tribe’ draped over a lighter earthen brown at the bottom. Between them sits Tahoma — also known as Mount Rainier — in the middle, the state of Washington’s tallest mountain.
“This is our official tribal seal. This is it. There is no variation,” Muckleshoot Indian Tribe vice-chair Donny Stevenson told ESPN. “The Kraken have not adjusted it in any way.”
In addition to the jersey patch, the Kraken have also committed to building a multi-sport court on the Reservation as well as creating programs to increase access for Indigenous youth.
These actions extend the work the team has already done and will surely celebrate at their next Indigenous Appreciation Night, slated for December 9, 2023 and notably presented by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.
“We launched our franchise with an eye to the future and an acknowledgement of the past,” said Kraken CEO Tim Leiweke in the jersey patch partnership’s press release. “This partnership manifests our gratitude and respect for the Muckleshoot People, past and present, who are the ancestral keepers of the land upon which Climate Pledge Arena sits and we play.”
“We strive to amplify the voices of our Native Community.”