LETHBRIDGE HURRICANES: A VISUAL HISTORY
Its summer time everyone, and to be honest, I really haven’t been thinking much about the blog. Most of the big talking points have now come and gone for the Hurricanes and I am enjoying the summer weather we have been getting. With that said, the Euro draft is this coming Monday and it will be interesting to see who Anholt takes with his selections. The Hurricanes haven’t had much luck with European players in recent years and it is crucial that they make good selections this year.
But I’m not going to talk about that today. I am feeling far too lazy to dive into actual hockey talk. Instead, I want to look at something completely shallow and reflect on the visual history of the team.
First off, lets take a quick look at the Hurricanes logo timeline. As you can see, that is a whole lot of logos for a team to go through in only 25 years. In most cases, the team was pressured or legally threatened/obligated to change the look with a few notable exceptions. When I look at this timeline as a person with a professional interest in marketing – I cringe. Building a brand identity is difficult, and changing a brand-mark can have a major impact on overall perception of the brand over time. Some of the greatest hockey logos are the ones that have almost never been changed. In the NHL I think of the original six teams as well as the Flyers, Flames, Oilers, Blues, and Sharks. Although each of those teams has existed for varying lengths of time, I would suggest that each has built a strong brand identity through iconic, unchanging brand marks. Consistency is key. Although those teams have tried many different jersey combinations and different color schemes, the logo itself stays the same.
Looking around the WHL, I think I could say the same for Medicine Hat, Spokane, Red Deer, Regina, Kootenay, and Kamloops. Each of those teams have established very strong, long lasting visual identities through commitment to their logo. It helps of course that each of those teams have also had long periods of success on the ice. Success on the ice helps to associate a visual identity with with a winning identity and a winning culture. As I look through this Hurricanes timeline, only two of the logos were worn with any significant on-ice success. Those two just so happen to be my favorites (the best of the worst if I am being honest). Does a good logo make you a good hockey team? Of course not. But having a strong identity makes for a better organization, and visuals are a huge part of how players, fans, and management identify a team. Bad logos look even worse on an awful team, and good logos look spectacular on a championship team. I would even go so far as to say that a championship team with a terrible logo (I’m looking at you 07′ Anaheim Ducks) can almost make the bad-look somewhat endearing.
THE EARLY YEARS
When the team first started in Lethbridge, the name Hurricanes was chosen by popular vote. I’m not going to get into whether it is a good name for a land-locked prairie city in Alberta, Canada (I dont for the record), but I would be interested to have heard some of the alternatives. In the end, Hurricanes it became, and this was the first logo and colours. The logo was copy-pasted onto the 80’s Washington Capitals jerseys.
Personally, I have always liked this logo. It is perfectly vintage and perfectly “hockey”. No it isn’t exciting but who cares. Neither is a Maple Leaf and yet Toronto has a fantastic brand (despite not having won anything in over fifty years). I have always wanted to see this logo modernized, maintaining a vintage look, but becoming undeniably 21st century. Combined with some unique, non-Washington inspired jerseys, I think there is huge potential here.
In 1997 the team moved away from the Washington logo and jerseys, instead looking to a more playful Tasmanian devil themed look with darker colours. They also added gray to the colour scheme. I don’t even know where to begin with this logo. I understand it was the late 90’s and these things happen. I mean… look at what Justin Timberlake used to wear back then.
But why?? Oh to be in the board room when someone suggested a cartoon character would make a great jr. hockey logo. Not to mention that a twister has nothing to do with a Hurricane. I don’t know what more to say. It was a bad idea then and would be an even worse idea today. The only redeeming quality was that this logo inspired one of the coolest Hurricanes goaltender masks ever. Logan Koopman’s snarling twister cujo style mask. I remember he let me hold it and check it out as a nine year-old, I thought it was so cool. It is pretty neat to look back and realize how much boys look up to major junior and NHL players. I always appreciated that he let me do that. Probably made my day.
I CAN LIVE WITH THIS
After the Twister logo needed to be changed (possibly becaues of trademark issues with WB but I’ve never had this confirmed), the Canes needed to find another new logo. This is the second logo I would consider passable in the Hurricanes history. Again, it isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but the team had success wearing this jersey. We got to see Boychuck, Sbisa, Metsola, Fadden, Beach, Banks, Ashton, and King wear this jersey and WIN in it. It actually resembles a Hurricane and ties hockey into the theme with a puck. With some modernization and minimalist inspiration, this logo could have been altered to be better and less alike to the Carolina Hurricanes’ logo. I never understood how the Carolina Hurricanes were able to bully this logo away from Lethbridge. This logo is far from the Carolina logo in my opinion and if Spokane, Portland and Kamloops were able to avoid legal issues with NHL teams sporting similar logos, it seemed more than a little petty for Carolina to make a big deal about this logo. Even worse to me is that the Carolina Hurricanes chose there name ten years after Lethbridge did! But at the end of the day, the team was again forced to change it’s logo…
This “logo” doesn’t even deserve attention by a nobody basement dwelling blogger. It is lazy, ugly, forgettable and regrettable. To make things worse, the WHL switched to the NHL style Reebok EDGE jersey templates the year this logo was unveiled. The Hurricanes quickly became the worse looking team in the league (my opinion of course). Good riddance.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
With creativity at a minimum and having apparently not learnt there legal lesson from the WB and Carolina mandated changes, the Hurricanes decided to steal “there” original colours and logo style back from Washington. Again, a lazy uninspired logo harking back on brand loyalty that never existed from the 80’s. Not only that, but the logo didn’t make sense. Hurrjcanes? Ugly, lazy, bad bad bad. Unsurprisingly, the team was (apparently) pressured to change the look of their logo. I don’t think they loved it internally and if Washington did influence their decision, it was all for the better.
…This happened. Now let me start by saying this is probably one of the better logos in the Hurricanes history. But it is a pick your poison scenario. On the bright side, its actually a logo and not just words. Boring uninspired words that is. Oshawa and Regina pull off text only logo’s, but that is because they are old and have a history with that particular style of vintage logo. This logo also has great colours and its a good thing they stuck with the Washington colours. They are nice and bright. They pop.
But why Hurricanes?? Why is this logo stapled on the ugly Washington NHL jersey template? It drives me insane. The ugly vertical strip piping…everything about them is just… less than what they could be. When I first saw them unveil this logo I just felt underwhelmed. No it’s not the worst thing ever, but I honestly believe that if they had opened up the logo design to a national and international contest, making use of the community on a great site like http://www.icethetics.co/ , they could have found something so much better and likely for much much cheaper than what this logo cost. Check out the original link of people who care about these things discussing the Canes unveiling. It is interesting.
If you take anything away from this post it is this. Please Hurricanes. PLEASE, if you are committed to this logo, change the jerseys. Below I have attached some concepts posted by people online of this logo with better jerseys. It makes a huge difference.
Both of these would be a huge upgrade on the current jersey template. I would love to see a red based version of the top concept. The second concept is cool because it harks back to the jersey that the Twister logo was on and makes the grey more prominent.
OTHER NOTABLE JERSEYS
Over the years there have also been a number of other notable jerseys the team has worn. I have included pictures below. There are more I am sure I am missing but these are my favorites.
Of course these jerseys/logo could and should never be permanent for the Canes, but they were a treat to see in person and maybe there is potential for some future inspiration from these different looks.
So that do you think? Am I off base? Am I being shallow? Is the Hurricanes logo the greatest that ever was and ever will be? What changes would you make if any? Do you think this is all a giant waste of time? I do? Pepsi or coke? Spy vs. Spy? Its summer Im outta here
Honorary wanna-be. Twitter master for @canesdomain. Reader and blog follower. I work in digital design and write when I have something to say. Was a bench warmer for two time U of L hockey intramural champions, the Cal Cluttermucks. Have a degree I will (probably) never use.