(Image: NHL)

There’s a new Buoy in town, a six-foot-tall blue sea troll, the just-introduced mascot of the Seattle Kraken NHL team. Named “Buoy,” the mascot is sporting wavy blue hair, one gold anchor earring, and an octopus tentacle. The towering creation is said to be a “nephew” of the Fremont Troll of movieland fame (“The Twight Saga,” “Death Note,” “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Sleepless in Seattle“).

Buoy made a dramatic entrance, rappelling down from the rafters prior to a preseason game at Climate Pledge Arena. The mascot immediately began collecting mixed reviews. Some fans said Buoy was certain to be a kid-pleaser, others said their children were frightened by the critter. 

Several fans even charged that Buoy is a rip-off of Gritty, the popular orange-furred mascot of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers — said to be “the ugliest, weirdest mascot any team ever imagined.” Gritty, introduced in 2018, was first derided but, after booing by the Flyers’ rivals, was not only adopted, but championed.

Buoy the Troll now joins Seattle’s established stable of sports mascots, a motley crew that includes the Mariners Moose, Seahawks’ Blitz, Seattle Storm’s Doppler, and Sounders Sammy the Sounder (a recent reboot of the team’s USL-era mascot.) In Everett, fans have the Aqua Sox’s Webby the Frog (green, of course), and over in Tacoma, the Rainiers’ Rhubarb the Reindeer. And don’t forget about Squatch, the one-time and perhaps future mascot of the Seattle Sonics team. 

Mascots are a quirky adjunct to athletic life. One dictionary says that a mascot is “a talisman, a charm, a thing to bring good luck to its possessor.” The word comes from provincial French mascotte – “a faerie friend, a good luck piece, a fetish.” The idea of characters used to represent sports teams can be traced to the 1880s.

Folklore has it that there was a boy named Chic who carried bats and ran errands for baseball players and became known as the team’s good luck charm. That led to the Boston Browns adopting another child — “Little Nic” — as its mascot while the Yale football team of 1982 featured “Handsome Dan,” a beloved bulldog. That segued into costumed mascots starting in 1974 with the San Diego Chicken, mascot of the San Diego Padres. Today every sports team, whether pro, college or high school – needs its idol.                                          

Team mascots have great fan value. Whereas players might move from team to team, the mascots never jump ship. And they’re a guaranteed merchandising success. Trust me, we’ll soon see Buoy the Troll sweatshirts, caps, and bobble heads everywhere. That critter is a money maker, perhaps on a par with the once-defamed Gritty who now charges $3,000 for personal appearances.

Which brings me to my basic question: Is Buoy a boy or a girl? I have been told that some of the costumed oddities are actually female beneath those heavy costumes. The theory is that women are more supple, better able to skip around and boogie. I tried out that theory on none other than Sports Columnist Art Thiel the other day, but he said he doubted women would qualify – the job is too physical, involving much brawling and rough play. Furthermore, many sports mascots are tree-top tall and, aside from NWBA players, there aren’t that many women who stand six and seven feet.

But I still like my idea that sports mascots could be any gender. I actually once asked that question of Blitz, the Seahawks mascot. But he/she merely shook his/her beak and, after releasing me from an avian hug, backed away. I may never know. 

Jean Godden
Jean Godden
Jean Godden wrote columns first for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and late for the Seattle Times. In 2002, she quit to run for City Council where she served for 12 years. Since then she published a book of city stories titled “Citizen Jean.” She is now co-host of The Bridge aired on community station KMGP at 101.1 FM. You can email tips and comments to Jean at


  1. I like Seattle Times’ columnist Dwight Perry’s quote that the Fremont Troll has clarified Buoy’s relationship as a nephew only by marriage.

  2. I don’t know why a mascot needs a gender at all — why can’t Seattle have an asteroid? A comet? A seaplane? Great article as always, Jean.

  3. Crosscut has a delightful and timely story about the first guy to play the Mariners’ Moose. That mascot is such a part of the team that — although one puzzles over the choice of mammal — it’s hard to imagine the lineup without him/her. Years ago I was picked to throw out the “first ball” at a Mariners’ game and, although I practiced, I wasn’t much of a precision pitcher. In fact I almost beaned the Moose who was standing to the left of the plate.


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