By Dan Herda, UW Journalism Student
For the first American city to claim a Stanley Cup championship (Seattle Metropolitans 1917), Seattle has never been thought of as a hockey town. It’s been home to several teams such as the Metropolitans, the Totems, and most recently the Thunderbirds, but has never been able to secure an NHL team, despite previous attempts.
But, you would never know Seattle is hockey-less once you step through the doorway of The Angry Beaver, at 8412 Greenwood Ave. N., in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. In fact, it’s here you realize there is a bountiful amount of hockey fans in Seattle.
The brainchild of Toronto transplant Tim Pipes, the Angry Beaver has had a very successful first few months since opening its doors in October.
“Opening night of the NHL, you couldn’t even get in the front door,” Pipes explained. “My jaw almost hit the floor.”
Pipes was a goalie growing up, (which, considering his name, couldn’t have been more of a perfect fit) and has a passionate love for the game that was passed down from his father. He says they haven’t had as big of an evening as that first night, but weekends tend to be a big draw for the hockey crowd in Seattle.
“The hockey community is starting to glom onto us,” Pipes says. “The word is getting out that The Angry Beaver is a hockey bar and people are making it a point of destination.”
A hockey bar indeed. With jerseys littering the walls, and more on their way, this is a place that Seattle’s hockey fan can feel comfortable after their sport has received the cold shoulder from so many other sports bars. Although Pipes admits he favors the Toronto Maple Leafs, he made it a main concern not to turn The Angry Beaver into a team-specific bar.
“I’ve got guys coming in here supporting everybody. The reason I started this bar is, six years ago I was going out to bars once conference championships were starting and I would get a TV in the corner with no sound because there was mid-season NBA going on.”
Being a bar strictly for hockey fans seems to be what keeps people like Alex Wilson coming back. An avid New York Rangers fan, Wilson moved to Seattle from New Jersey a little over a year ago.
“Mondays and Tuesdays are my days off,” Wilson explains, “so depending on what days they are playing, you can find me here watching the Rangers.”
Wilson first heard about the bar in December and made it a point to come and see it for himself.
“It’s a good vibe, and a good mix of fans,” Wilson says. “Everyone seems to be more involved with what is happening in the game, and it provides a really friendly environment.”
Usually when you get such a diverse amount of fans rooting for different teams, trouble can break out, but at The Angry Beaver — despite its name — fans will put aside their differences for the love of the game.
“It’s not about my team is better than yours. The people who come here are here for the love of the sport,” Pipes explains. “I’ve even got (Boston) Bruins fans and (New York) Ranger fans talking to one another like, hockey man, we finally got a place to watch hockey.”
Wilson agrees, saying, “Hockey fans are more passionate about the game. Of course there is going to be jabs, but here it’s all in good fun.”
As for the promise of Seattle getting an NHL team, Pipes is not only optimistic, he’s certain.
“I am 100 percent positive we will get a team here in the next three to five years,” he explains. “We have the perfect market for it, and I think the NHL would be stupid to ignore that.”
It was because of this certainty that Pipes saw the opportunity to become Seattle’s go-to hockey bar before a team arrived.
“I knew that there was talk of Seattle getting an NHL team before this idea came into my head. I thought, ‘What if I open this bar two to three years before the NHL comes to Seattle?’”
What seems to confuse people the most about the bar is simply the name. Why The Angry Beaver? Pipes says there has been no shortage of jokes on its behalf, and is more than happy to explain its meaning. Apparently, the name comes from the national animal of Canada, the beaver.
“For years and years I had people coming up to me and saying, oh you’re Canadian, Canadians are such nice people,” Pipes explains, “to which I would respond, yeah we’re great people until you strap a pair of skates on our feet and put a hockey stick in our hands. Thus The Angry Beaver was born.”
But what happens in the off-season? As it turns out, Pipes has other passions besides hockey and really isn’t too worried about it.
“We’re going to have a lot of live music in here during the summer,” he explains. “I figure we might throw some golf on, of course we’ll still support the local teams like the Mariners and the Seahawks, but once hockey comes back on, sorry.”
One thing is for sure, The Angry Beaver is slowly gaining a strong fellowship as the Seattle location for hockey. With a very Canadian menu (yes, there’s poutine) and an atmosphere that can turn any person into a hockey fan, The Angry Beaver will continue drawing enthusiasts and giving customers like Alex Wilson a place to watch his favorite team from across the nation.
Dan Herda is a journalism student at the University of Washington.