Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ohio Professional Hockey - The Lame Name Game

There has been a large local focus on the recent naming of the new hockey team for the city of Toledo. Even though the team will not begin playing in the ECHL until the 2009, the ownership decided that the time had come to pick out the team name. After considered discussion, suggestions from the pubic (which they apparently paid no attention to), and marketing studies, they came to the conclusion that the new franchise name would be the Toledo Walleye. Now once you have picked yourself up off of the floor, and your laughter has reduced itself to a manageable level, I will attempt to explain why this is not as strange as it might appear. It appears that such things are common practice in the State of Ohio.

Now Toledo has had professional hockey on the minor league level for many years going back in its past. The Toledo Blades, the Goaldiggers, the Hornets. and the Mercurys. In fact, it only recently lost it's latest effort at a minor league franchise (it's hard to play after they tear down your arena). This team, the Toledo Storm began a play during the 1991-92 season and won two Riley Cup championships before its recent demise in the 06-07 season.

Cleveland, which now has the Lake Erie Monsters of the IHL (not a bad effort at a name), used to have the Lumberjacks. Pardon me, but I don't recall large tracts of virgin timber in the area, nor an abundance of beavers. It would however, allow the singing of the Monty Python "lumberjack song" as a team anthemn, so it's got that going for it.

Cincinnati has had the Mohawks in the past (pretty bad logo, but it was 1948-59 after all) and now has the Cyclones of the ECHL. This too is OK as names and logos go, but might have been confusing when Toledo had the Storm. Had somebody simply run our of inspiration or did they just think that two Ohio teams named for atmospheric events was a good idea?

Dayton has had the Gems and the Owls (lucky for you, I couldn't find the logos), and currently has the Bombers of the ECHL. This name isn't bad either. It takes in the whole Wright brothers / Wright-Patterson AFB thing into account, but the logo with the bomber on it is a lot cooler than this one. I suppose however, that it is the more politically correct.

Columbus, the only city in Ohio currently with a team in the NHL, has had a number of teams over the years, some of which I have been able to dig up logos on. The Checkers, the Seals, and the Owls (yeah, the same ones that were in Dayton) at one time played in Columbus.

They gave up their last minor league hockey team and a pretty good team name and logo, the Columbus Chill, to go with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This name was supposed to celebrate Ohio's Civil War heritage (I know, who knew that it had one). They started out with a losing record and a logo that was even a bigger loser; and the Blue Jacket bug, like the team itself, faced a fair amount of ridicule at home and around the league. The team and the logo are fairing better these days (even incorporating the flag of the state of Ohio in its latest logo), and there is a chance that they could even make the playoffs this year.

And then we have the Toledo Walleye...

Sure it may not the best name in the world, and the logo might leave a little bit to be desired; but when you consider it in the light of the history of naming Ohio hockey teams, we could have done a lot worse. (By the way, why does everyone think that it becomes a better logo by placing a hockey stick in its hand. See Beavers, Cyclones, Seals, and Blue Jackets.)

So I am choosing to do a catch and release with the Walleye, will give them a break, and wait to see them play. Having done the research, I now understand now that Ohio seems to have little understanding for this game invented in Canada, in spite of its proximity and of having had many teams over the years. I am an old hockey player myself, having chased my way up and down the ice for some 30 years, and that may also be part of the reason that I am willing to cut them some slack. You may even see me in a jersey one of these days in support of this new Toledo franchise (After all, I have one of the bug jerseys from Columbus, which proves that I have no shame).

1 comment:

Ben said...

Everyone always tries to think of a creative name that will sell merchandise, and usually the names flop.