Picture, if you will, a world where the NHLs most popular team in northern California would hit the ice being introduced as, “Your San Jose Rubber Puckies!” That sounds rather insane, I know, but it almost came to be. Of course, they also might’ve been known as the San Jose Salty Dogs or the San Jose Screaming Squids. Oh, the humanity!
Thankfully sanity prevailed and the Sharks were born. They’re not the only team with a fascinating story to tell though. Thanks to Rob Macneil of Sportsnet, we’ve got the short stories as to where all 30 NHL teams got their now famous nicknames and that narrowly avoided horror story from San Jose is just one of the handful of gems that Macneil discussed.
A couple of the more notable near-disasters include the Nashville Predators who saw a host of new-wave future marketing disasters:
In 1971 Nashville, a nine-inch fang belonging to a saber-toothed tiger was discovered during the construction of an office building. When it was time to name the franchise, three choices were presented, Ice Tigers, Fury and Attack. Owner Craig Leipold then added his own submission to the vote, Predators. Once the contest closed, Predators ended up being the successful pick.
Fury? Attack? These are names that barely function well in indoor lacrosse. Yikes. While the sabre-toothed tiger makes for a great logo, the alternate logo used on the shoulder patches of Predators jerseys featuring a sabre-toothed tiger skull is one of the most haunting and truly intimidating images around. It’s a shame the NHL wouldn’t allow them to use it as a main logo. As always, skulls = money. Every death metal band in existence can’t be wrong, right?
The Minnesota Wild, whose name isn’t exactly a dream come true in the first place, nearly fell to a worse fate: being named poorly after local folk lore.
In 1998, Wild was chosen as a tribute to the state’s wildlife and outdoors reputation. It was chosen from a group of six finalists, beating out the Blue Ox, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, White Bears, and Freeze.
If you’re going to name a team after something to do with the story of Paul Bunyan, you might as well just go with Lumberjacks and be done with it. Having the option of “Blue Ox” is reaching too deep to be smart. Besides, just the mere possibility of having Jacques Lemaire suit up in plaid and performing a certain Monty Python skit just has “comedy gold” written all over it.
Finally, if you thought that the Columbus Blue Jackets nickname is inspired yet odd, just be thankful that it was chosen in the first place and pay respect to your veterans while doing so.
When a name-the-team contest was held, over 14,000 entries were received. The name came down to two, ‘Blue Jackets’ and ‘Justice’. The former was chosen to celebrate the Civil War history in the state of Ohio and Columbus. Ohio contributed more residents to the Union Army than any other state, including William Tecumseh Sherman (who led the burning of Atlanta), Ulysses S. Grant, Philip Sheridan, and George Custer.
That’s a truly great story and I think we’re all happy that the Columbus Justice aren’t in existence. What we’re all still trying to figure out is just how a neon green insect came to don the colors of the Union army in the first place.