WHL LOGO RANKING: 2015 *UPDATED*
Sometimes you just gotta do something fun. Ditch the (at times) depressing news surrounding the local hockey team and take a lighthearted look at something less weighty. For me, I like to step back and enjoy the on-ice aesthetics. At a young age I became enthralled with the visual design of hockey. Whether it was the art adorning the masks of my many goaltending heroes, or a new expansion team injecting fresh visuals into the game I knew and loved, hockey was always about more than just sticks and pucks. The various jerseys, hockey cards and posters we choose to hang on our walls, are a testament to the fact that hockey brands carry substance. They transcend their
utilitarian functional means and become part of a more meaningful social end – community identity.
To put it simply, hockey logos are awesome. More interestingly though, some are far more awesome than others. With tongue in cheek, I rank my favorite logos from around the Dub’…
(Remember these are my personal opinions. I speak for no one but myself. Tell me how I am wrong below!)
1. REGINA PATS *UPDATED*
It’s funny how things can change as you get older. If you would have asked me what I thought of the Pats’ logo as a boy, I would have told you it was boring. It’s still boring, but that’s what makes it endearing. One look and you know that it came from a different era. It proceeds the league itself. If a newer team came out with a similar logo you can’t help but think it would come across as pretentious. As someone living in Lethbridge, it’s always a pleasure to see the Pats at the Enmax Centre.
It’s simple, clean, instantly recognizable, and deserves the top spot. Love it or hate it, you have to respect it.
*I have updated the graphic to reflect the Pats recent logo refresh. Thank you to Sonia for pointing out that I had originally used their old logo and colours!
2. RED DEER REBELS
I’ve always assumed this logo was inspired by a comically large free-range bull-skull Sutter keeps above his whiskey collection back home. Ignorance is bliss.
I can’t seem to put a finger on what I love so much about the Rebels’ logo. It just seems like a Jr. hockey logo and that’s a good thing. It doesn’t take it self too seriously but simultaneously avoids looking like something I would have drawn when I was 10. Carry on Rebels.
3. CALGARY HITMEN
The Hitmen win the award for the logo with the strongest serial-killer vibe. I’m not sure why he is so pissed. Maybe it’s because he has blood red crows-feet. What I do know, is that the Hitman is kind of a badass. If the WHL was high-school, he would be that guy with a neck tattoo who rides a Harley and has multiple children… by grade 11.
The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be.
4. VANCOUVER GIANTS
If I remember correctly, the Giant’s came up with this logo via a design competition. I’m not sure who ultimately won, but they did a fantastic job. By the look of his arms he clearly goes to the same gym as the Rock and the same ‘pharmacist’ as Barry Bonds. I also really appreciate how the overall design forms a ‘G’. It’s not easy to make something this visually appealing out of an asymmetrical letter. Bravo Vancouver.
5. MEDICINE HAT TIGERS
Like the Hitmen, the Tigers brand has a certain ‘edge’ to it that most others don’t. I could definitely see this logo riding shotgun next to a pin-up girl on your grandfather’s WWII bomber jacket… that your hipster cousin now wears to fit in around Portland.
6. BRANDON WHEAT KINGS
Very consistent logo. No, its not flashy. Frankly, it’s also not that memorable. But it’s solid, effective, and looks great on the jerseys. I’m not normally a huge fan of text based logos, but understanding how difficult it is to portray wheat, Brandon did a great job. I always enjoy seeing the Wheaties play.
Sundown in the Paris of the prairies…
7. KELOWNA ROCKETS
This is probably going to be contentious, but I really enjoy this logo. Yes, it’s a little cartoonish. Too much so. But it includes some hidden gems that I just can’t deny. I appreciate the ‘sunshine’ gradient in the background, representing the weather of the Okanagan Valley. I like that the logo itself is an ode’ to the city of Kelowna, a play on urban legend and myth. Most won’t get it, but the people of Kelowna do, and that’s what matters. Above all, I am a huge fan of the colour pallet the Rockets have. I can’t name any other teams that use the same combination of colours. Very non-traditional, but in this case, I think it’s fantastic.
Plus the Ogopogo is missing jibs. Grapes’ would be proud. #muck
8. SASKATOON BLADES
I have to admit that I myself am somewhat divided on the Blades logo. There is something about it I both love and hate. The reason I rank it so high is the intelligent design work. Is it a skate?? Is it a sword?? It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s not a bulldozer….?
9. EDMONTON OILKINGS
This is another one of those old timey logos that I can’t help but enjoy. I won’t give the team too much credit for the design since it was essentially already laid out for them, but I will say, good job on going ahead with a look that isn’t exactly modern or sexy. There are certainly a whole lot of colours. It’s almost like the designer drank paint…
10. KAMLOOPS BLAZERS
I’m an Oilers fan, so maybe I’m also predisposed to liking the Blazers logo. There is certainly an 80’s flair to it. But instead of feeling dated, the brand tends on the side of ‘good’ nostalgia.
11. SPOKANE CHIEFS
Rest easy Chief’s nation. I couldn’t leave this iconic logo off of the better half of the list. Where it loses marks for originality, it makes up for it in being memorable. I tend to be critical of teams that steal their look from the NHL, and you would have to be blind to not see the Montreal flavor here, but for whatever reason, it works. Of all the American teams, I can’t help but feel Spokane has the most ‘Canadian hockey’ feel about it. (fully prepared to get flamed for that comment)
12. SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS
What is old is new again. It was great to see the Bronco’s move away from the boring blue and grey look they had been using for the past decade. The colour green is hopelessly underused so I was really happy to see it come back in Swift Current. It’s not a fancy logo, but that seems fitting. It’s weird for a prairie town to use ‘coastal colours’, but whatever… it works well in my books.
13. SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS
Speaking of coastal colours, the Seattle
Seahawks Thunderbirds have a…. serviceable…. logo. Unfortunately I mainly see potential where I would love to see design excellence. The colours and totem are a fantastic motif’. It would be fantastic to see what a modern designer could come up with for the T-birds. Not awful by any means…just not as good as I think it could be.
14. VICTORIA ROYALS
Speaking of modern. The Royals logo is certainly a ‘new-school’ approach to hockey branding. I really appreciate the semi-gothic, victorian era vibe. It really does translate the Canadian conception of royalty. Really busy, a little stuffy, but ultimately effective in communicating what it needs to. If they were going for ‘parliamentary’, they nailed it.
15. EVERETT SILVERTIPS
I want to really love this logo. I really really do. In fact, if you were talking to me thirteen years ago, I probably would be fawning over it. There-in lies the problem. The Silvertips logo is a little too far in the cartoon/childish realm. Where Kelowna’s logo manages to survive the silliness, Everett’s doesn’t pass the smell test. Maybe it is because the bear seems a little too angry. He’s trying too hard. The Tip’s could benefit from a logo update. Something a little more mature but with the same great colours.
16. MOOSEJAW WARRIORS
Like those ranked immediately above it, the Warriors’ logo has some great potential. Unfortunately I can’t help but feel it’s wasted on some dated elements. Every time I see that gradient, I can’t shake the 90’s. Maybe in ten years the gradient will make a comeback… I don’t know. I don’t know much actually. Have I mentioned this is the worst blog in yql…
17. TRI-CITY AMERICANS
The Tri-City Americans have one of the best shoulder patches that is used as a primary in the league. It should probably be ranked higher, but I just find it a little boring. No need to be ashamed of it or anything. The Am’s have a really unique look when it is all said and done. Maybe I just really really want a fighter-jet instead.
18. KOOTENAY ICE
This is where things start to get (really) bad. The ICE’s (ISIS?? (too soon?) ICEES? ICE?) logo is dated. And not the good kind of dated (ie. Regina, Swift Current, Medicine Hat). I am talking about the kind of dated where the designer (back in Edmonton (before the franchise moved)) was likely blasting Ace of Bass and drinking Pepsi BLUE while trying to hopelessly visualize ICE. Freaking ICE!! The name is a product of the same era that brought us the Minnesota WILD, Guelph STORM, Owen Sound ATTACK… you get the picture. Trying to make a logo out of extremely abstract words and objects can be tough. The end result is usually something like this (though the other teams I mentioned all have pretty good logos). I don’t know what to suggest other than a new concept. Ditch the yeti, stick with the ICE moniker, and hire some creative people to start brainstorming. With a little effort, the ICE could have a great logo. The better question is will the ICE be in Cranbrook long term…
19. PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS *UPDATED*
I was tempted to rank this one higher… but I also had it lower at one point as well. It’s certainly unique…. aaaaaaand it’s also an improvement over the old Cougars logo. The old cougar looked like he wanted to shake your hand then tell you about his work as a humanitarian. This new one just falls flat for me somehow. I think it’s a grower, but I would have loved to see them avoid using black. Black (imo) is overused. I think they could have come up with something more appealing by using more red and less black. For such a recent update, it seems out of place.
Sounds like the Cougars are going to be totally re-branding this summer. As of now, they are going through the trademarking process. According to this article, we can expect a new logo and jerseys to be revealed after the WHL playoffs are over. Exciting news. Can’t wait to see what they come up with.
20. PRINCE ALBERT RAIDERS
Another logo that would be much better served as a secondary brandmark. In my opinion, this is the most ‘high school’ logo on the list. It’s too bad because I know the old logo received similar criticism. It seems at best to be a lateral move. If the Raiders were planning to re-brand, they should have taken more time with it. I will say that the design itself is actually really good. The way they pulled the letters together to form a shield is admirable. It just shouldn’t be a primary logo is all. The name ‘Raiders’ is open to so much creative interpretation and this seems too ‘easy’. I hope in the future they try again.
21. LETHBRIDGE HURRICANES
Now that I know this cost the team over $20,000 I am even more disappointed. Where to begin. The positives… it’s an actual logo rather than just words. It is bold. I enjoy the colours.
Unfortunately the positives only really hold up when compared to how bad the previous ‘logo’ was. The Hurricanes have never had a strong brand identity. This team changes branding every few years because they never seem to get it right. A few times that found something that (arguably) started to stick but then were forced to change because of copyright infringement issues. I plan to write an entire article on the brand identity of the Hurricanes, but for now let me just say that this logo is disappointing. It’s boring, unimaginative, and worst of all, unclear. What is it? A fox tail around two sticks? A toilet-bowl with legs sticking out? It’s not a good representation of a hurricane and that’s what matters most.
Why don’t more teams re-brand through a fan submission competition like Vancouver did? Look on great blogs like www.icethetics.com and you will see many talented, passionate, hockey fans who love to design logos. I am confident the Hurricanes could have spent half the money and gotten a much better design by pursuing alternative avenues. The team could even to a voting competition of the top 6 submissions from a theoretical contest. This would allow the community, and most importantly fans (the ones who buy the jerseys and memorabilia), to take ownership of the team identity. It would be a way to make the Hurricanes more inclusive of the community. Considering this is a community owned team, I don’t understand why this hasn’t yet been done. (yes I know they did a jersey design competition a few years back. I think they could expand that experience to a full re-brand).
For now we are stuck with, “It’s better than what we had before…”
22. PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS *UPDATED*
Let me start by saying, this is one of the greatest sports logos of all time. On a list of NHL logos, this ought to finish first on most. Therein lies the problem. As great of a logo that it is, Portland isn’t winning any originality contests. In an immensely creative city it would be great to see what locals could come up with. Yes, it’s one of the best looking jersey/logo combos in the Dub, but it’s tough to see through the Blackhawks.
With all that said, I have received numerous comments informing me further on the rich history between the Blackhawks and Winterhawks.
According to Leftwing71 over at the Network 54 forum,
When Portland moved from Edmonton in 1976, the Chicago Blackhawks donated their old jerseys to get them started. I mean after all, when the Blackhawks were created, the Portland Rosebuds in the 1920’s moved to Chicago to become the Blackhawks. So Portland and Chicago have been kinda connected since the 1920’s. No copycatting at all when it comes to the Jersey.
Im not sure how reputable our friend Leftwing is. He might even be a socialist. But I’m gonna take his word for it and pass it along anyways. Thanks Leftwing!
In light of better information, I actually find the story incredibly interesting and have a new respect for the Hawk’s logo. I’m going to stick to my guns and maintain that it’s not really their logo, but clearly it isn’t actually 22/22. I apologize for my initial comments. They were ignorant and uninformed. Worst blog in Lethbridge indeed. Can we still be friends? As a token of my good will, I give you a horse making pancakes for a goat.
COLOUR BY NUMBERS
Am I totally out to lunch? I would love to hear about how wrong I am. Let me know in the comment section below.
– Which are your favorite?
– Which do you hate?
– Which team logo would you change first, above all others?
*All graphic-design by @canesdomain. You are free to use any of the above but we would appreciate some love in return (tweets, facebook shares, referrals, etc…) <3
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.