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Off-Topic: What’s In A Name - West

What’s in a name? WESTERN CONFERENCE

EASTERN CONFERENCE here: http://www.hendrickshockey.net/?p=434

And to complete the absolutely true* reasons behind the naming of the NHL Hockey teams, here for your delicious pleasure, are the Western Conference franchises.

Chicago BLACKHAWKS: Original GM Fred McLaughlin had served in WWI with the “Blackhawk Regiment”, and honoured his military past by naming the hockey team after them. McLaughlin was fortunate to be posted to a unit with a pretty awesome name like the Blackhawk Regiment, as the Chicago 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division, is a little long-winded to engrave on The Stanley Cup.

Columbus BLUE JACKETS: In respect of Ohio’s civil war history, the hockey team’s name of the Blue Jackets refers to the victorious Union colours, as well as the logo incorporating the Stars and Stripes. It appears that American patriotism is high on the agenda for Columbus and its hockey team. It is therefore interesting (and a little disappointing) to then learn that the Captain (Nash), Coach (Arniel), and GM (Howson), are all Canadian, and their top points scorers in franchise history are Canadian (Nash), Czech (Vyborny), and Russian (Zherdev).

Detroit RED WINGS: Considering James Norris took the idea for the Red Wings from a team in Montreal, it surprising that the name isn’t Detroit Aile Rouge. Norris had been involved with the Montreal Hockey Club, who were nicknamed the Winged Wheelers, and brought the premise to Detroit when he bought the club, taking over from the Detroit Falcons. Norris transformed the logo into a wheel…with wings (can’t help think he took the Winged Wheelers thing a bit too literally), and made it red. The Red Wings were born from a kind of ‘say what you see’ attitude to the logo that was created from Norris thinking about another clubs nickname and put it down on paper. Still with me?

Nashville PREDATORS: When you see the Nashville logo, then sure, the Predators certainly seems straightforward. However, all is not what it seemed. The Predators had originally unveiled the logo without a name, and held (yet another) name-the-team competition. The three shortlisted were the Fury, Attack and Ice Tigers. Owner Craig Leipold then decided to add in his own effort, Predators, and surprise, his suggestion was chosen. I guess we need to be grateful, as the team may have been one step away from being the Nashville Leipolds.

St Louis BLUES: W.C.Handy composed the blues classic “St Louis Blues” from which the NHL team takes its name. If the city wasn’t named in the title, then the other teams from W.C.Handy numbers may have included St Louis Yellow Dogs, St Louis Aunt Hagars, and maybe the superb, St Louis Ole Miss Rags. In hindsight, it looks like St Louis Blues was actually a really good choice.

Calgary FLAMES: A slightly strange one this one. Since the Flames was a name inherited from the Atlanta Flames when the franchise moved to Calgary, it bears no relevance to the city of Calgary at all. The name was originally chosen by Atlanta in reference to the burning of Atlanta by General Sherman during the civil war. This in itself, a slightly odd choice of reference. What else was up for decision, the Atlanta Plague?

Colorado AVALANCHE: Another weather-related name, but this time with dangerous undertones. Although the Rocky Mountains are indeed, snow-covered the majority of the year, and therefore susceptible to avalanche, these are surely dangerous and feared things. Large amounts of snow tumbling down hillsides, collecting trees, goats, bears, small huts, vehicles and anything that gets in the path, can’t really be celebrated, but since weather seems to be a running trend throughout the NHL, then I guess we should come to expect it. I actually think that’s what happened to Bigfoot. He got too close to an avalanche and was probably knocked unconscious buy a goat travelling at great velocity, before being buried in snow. That would at least explain the reasoning behind the badge of the big hairy foot that is sewn onto the Avs jerseys!

Edmonton OILERS: There’s apparently oil in Alberta, which is handy, because there’s absolutely nothing else there to reference. The Edmonton Oh Look Another Trees, or the Edmonton Maybe Today I’ll Look Out The Other Windows just don’t have quite the same edge. The team was originally the Edmonton Oil Kings, and was shortened to Oilers in 1973. I don’t think there was an abdication, it was probably just easier to write in the snow in one single stream…

Minnesota WILD: There is obviously some justification to be done here, in terms of how Minnesota can claim to be ‘wild’. Did someone count how many trees, wolves, and bears there were in the state of Minnesota and claim they had the most, and were therefore vindicated? How would you be sure that you didn’t count the same bear twice? Maybe you’d have to mark the bear with paint to ensure fairness. Now I’m not a huge fan of my job, but wild bear painter sounds like something a lot worse. Cal Clutterbuck’s facial hair has paid homage to his team’s name, whilst most others pay homage to Cal Clutterbuck’s facial hair.

Vancouver CANUCKS: Taken from the friendly description of a Canadian, and from James Edward Alexander’s “L’Acadie” – ‘we also met a lusty fellow in a forest road with a keg of whisky slung round him, who called to us ‘Come boys and have some grog, I’m what you call a canuck:’ Surely if that was the basis for a name, a bloke wandering in the woods carrying round barrels of alcohol, and insisting that strangers drink it with him, then we could have been looking at the Vancouver Hobos, or the Vancouver Drunken Gypsies. I don’t mind admitting, I quite like Vancouver Hobos. Imagine the playoff beards…

Anaheim DUCKS: When Hollywood actor Emilio Estevez was given community service, his punishment was to train a PeeWee hockey team, District 5 in Minnesota. He managed to get sponsorship from his lawyer’s firm, run by Gerald Ducksworth, to provide new equipment and move the team to Anaheim (closer to Hollywood for Estevez I guess) where they thrived, and became an NHL team of their own. Unfortunately, Estevez doesn’t seem to be associated with the team any more, and neither is original goaltender, Greg Goldberg. Shame, as they’d be proud to see what they’d achieved.

Dallas STARS: Now Dallas got lucky. The franchise they received had previously been the Minnesota North Stars, and so fans of the original team didn’t have to learn any new chants at least. Add to this the nickname of Texas as the ‘Lone Star State’, and you have a naming match made in heaven…or Minnesota. Since the North Stars was a name taken from Minnesota’s state motto “L’Étoile du Nord”, which is a French phrase meaning “The Star of the North”. Maybe Dallas knew this all along, but looking at the crowd in the American Airlines Centre, I may be crediting Texans with a little too much intelligence.

Los Angeles KINGS: I’m well aware that Los Angeles doesn’t have a King. I’m also aware that the USA doesn’t have a King. The USA is not an empire, nor does it have a monarchy or Royal Family of any kind. In fact, there’s absolutely no good reason I can see as to why Jack Kent Cooke decided to call his new franchise the Kings. Then again, if you can afford to buy an expansion franchise, fill it with players and staff, and build a new arena within the space of 2 years, then I guess you can call your team whatever the heck you wish!

Phoenix COYOTES: This is a name I actually don’t mind. It’s something that Arizona seems to do quite well. The NBA team is the Phoenix Suns (weather…again), the MLB team is the Arizona Diamondbacks (snakes), and the NHL team the Phoenix Coyotes. Just from those team names, you get the idea of the sort of place Arizona is. A dry, dusty, scorching hot, desert-type of land. The only real paradox in all of this, is that the team named after a desert dog, then take to the ice. I don’t think a Coyote from Arizona has ever encountered ice, and looking at last seasons defense, I don’t think Keith Yandle had ever encountered ice either.

San Jose SHARKS: San Jose is on the Pacific coast, and sharks like to live in the Pacific (maybe they like surfing…or surfers!). This all makes a lot of sense. Also, the shark is an aggressive, intimidating and formidable creature, attributes that wouldn’t be out of place written on motivational posters in the locker room. Sharks also travel with their mouths open, eating anything in their path, which is quite a lot like San Jose forward, Kyle Wellwood.

* – Not actually all true, but the bits that sound like they’re true, probably are…

So there you have it, part history lesson, part guesswork. I think we’ve all learnt something.

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One comment for “Off-Topic: What’s In A Name - West”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this what’s in a name series. Well done rocknrollnodoby.

    Posted by unrulytravllerNo Gravatar | April 7, 2011, 12:34 pm

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