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Brand Image in the NHL: Playoff Edition

Brand Image in the NHL: Playoff Edition
NHL Team Brand History

With the playoffs upcoming, we at IDeas BIG (Brand Identity Group) are pretty excited.  As most of us have roots in the Chicagoland area, we look forward to watching the Blackhawks attempt repeating as Stanley Cup Champions.  But as we anxiously await the first puck drop, we started to think.  Where did the teams in the NHL Playoffs get their names, logos, and brand imagery?

Just as any consumer or business brand, a sports team builds its image and fan base on its brand identity, and the NHL has one of the longest histories.  Today, we will cover the Playoff Teams organized by conference and seed

Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim Ducks Sweater

Courtesy Wikipedia

Brand Value (Ducks Brand Value): $28 Million

Team Colors: Black, Metallic Gold, Orange, White

Current Arena: Honda Center

Goal Song: Bro Hymn by Pennywise

Current Mascot: Wild Wing (1993-Present)

Average Attendance: 16,469 (21st in NHL, 95.9% of Capacity)

Anaheim Ducks Branding

On October 2, 1992, Walt Disney Pictures released the hit movie “The Mighty Ducks” and created a new wave of excitement among the nation’s youth and ice hockey. Starring Emilio Estevez and a band of kids who learn to play and win as a team, “The Mighty Ducks” grossed $51 million at the box office and served as the inspiration for the name of the Walt Disney Company’s NHL club.

The original official team colors and logo were unveiled on June 7, 1993, and Mighty Ducks merchandise was immediately propelled into one of the top sellers in all of professional sports. After being sold by Disney, the team dropped the ‘Mighty’ from the namesake and became specifically the Anaheim Ducks.

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Sweater History

Avalanche Sweater History courtesy of Heritage Sports Art

Brand Value (Brandirectory): $31 Million.

Team Colors: Steel Blue and Burgundy

Current Arena: Pepsi Center

Goal Song: The Rock and Roll Whip Part 2 – (Avs Edit)

Avalanche Mascot: Badaboum (Nordiques), Howler the Yeti (Mid-90s), Bernie the St. Bernard (2009-Present)

Average Attendance: 16,295 (22nd in NHL, 90.5% of Capacity)

Avalanche Name History

Nordiques: The Northerners of Quebec (1972-1995): At the time of the move, the Nordiques were named as such due to the fact that they were one of the northernmost teams in the WHL.  By the 1978-79 Season, the WHL and NHL merged.

Related: PepsiCo without Pepsi?

Colorado Avalanche (1995-Present)

Potential Names: Rocky Mountain Extreme, Black Bears, Outlaws, Storm, Wranglers, Renegades, Rapids, and Cougars

Related: 10 of the Worst Logo Designs of All Time

A member of the marketing group responsible for naming the team replied: “This is the NHL, a rough and tough sport, and Avalanche is something that matches the ‘on the edge’ feel they want to create. Hey, Cougars and Bears kill people, too. People shouldn’t get so excited about Avalanche being a disrespectful name or something. It’s just a name.”

St. Louis Blues

Brand Value (St. Louis Blues Brand Value): $35 Million

St. Louis Blues Logo HistoryTeam Colors: Blue, Gold, Navy Blue, White

Current Arena: Scottrade Center

Goal Song: “When the Saints Go Marching In” by Jeremy Boyer

Current Mascot: Louie the Polar Bear

Average Attendance: 17,025 (17th in NHL, 88.9% of Capacity)

Team Name Origin

According to the team’s website, owner Sid Saloman Jr. selected the nickname Blues in 1967 after W.C. Handy’s song, “St. Louis Blues.” Mercury and Apollo were two of the other nicknames that were considered.

San Jose Sharks

Brand Value (San Jose Sharks on Brandirectory): $32 MillionSan Jose Sharks Sweater

Team Colors: Pacific Teal, Black, Burnt Orange, and White

Current Arena: SAP Center (The Shark Tank)

Goal Song: Rock and Roll, Part 2 (Sharks version)

Current Mascot: S.J. Sharkie

Average Attendance: 17,133 (17th in NHL, 97.6% of Capacity)

Sharks Name Choice and History

Sharks was chosen from 2300 entries in San Jose’s name-the-team contest. The other finalists included Rubber Puckies, Screaming Squids, Salty Dogs, and Blades. Blades was the most popular entry, but ultimately rejected because of its gang implications. When the nickname was chosen, seven shark species made their home in a stretch of the Pacific Ocean off the California coast called The Red Triangle.

Related: Beer Naming Case Study

Chicago Blackhawks

Brand Value (Chicago Blackhawks Brand Value): $66 Million

History of Blackhawks LogoTeam Colors:  Red, black, white

Current Arena: United Center (Madhouse on Madison)

Goal Song: Chelsea Dagger” by the Fratellis

Current Mascot: Tommy Hawk

Average Attendance: 22,623 (1st in NHL, 117.6% of Capacity)

Blackhawks Sweater History

Courtesy of the Greatest Scapes

Blackhawks Name and Logo History

World War I veteran and coffee tycoon Frederic McLaughlin was Chicago’s owner when it entered the NHL in 1926. McLaughlin named the team after the 86th

Infantry Division in which he served. The “Black Hawk Division” was named after Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk American Indian tribe, who fought the Illinois militia in 1832. The nickname was officially changed from Black Hawks to Blackhawks in 1986.

Los Angeles Kings

Brand Value (LA Kings Brandirectory): $47 Million

Team Colors:  Black,LA Kings Logos white, aluminum

Current Arena: Staples Center

Goal Song: “I Love LA” by Randy Newman

Current Mascot: Kingston the Snow Leopard (1994), Bailey the Lion

Average Attendance: 19,017 (8th in NHL, 107.6 of Capacity)

History of the LA Kings Brand Name

The late Jack Kent Cooke, who owned the Los Angeles Lakers and later the Washington Redskins, settled on Kings as the team nickname from entries submitted in a fan contest. The Los Angeles Monarchs played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League during the 1930s and Cooke’s new team adopted the same royal color scheme as the Lakers.

Related: Brand Perception in 2013

Also, head over to the Los Angeles Kings Website for a brief history of the LA Kings Sweaters/Jerseys.

Minnesota Wild

Brand Value (Minnesota Wild Brand Value): $29 MillionMinnesota Wild Logo

Team Colors:  Forest Green, Iron Range Red, Harvest gold, Minnesota wheat, white

Current Arena: Xcel Energy Center

Goal Song: “Crows Chant” by Joe Satriani

Current Mascot: Nordy

Average Attendance: 18,505 (12th in NHL, 103.1% of Capacity)

Minnesota Wild Name

In 1998, Wild was chosen from a field of six finalists, which also included the Blue Ox, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, White Bears, and Freeze. (Voyageurs were the working-class employees of fur trading companies in the region during the 1700s.)

Bonus: A great story about how the Minnesota Wild built their fan base before a puck was even dropped.

Dallas Stars

Brand Value (Stars Brandirectory): $38 Million

Dallas Stars Logo History

From SportsLogos.net

Team Colors: Victory green, black, white, silver

Current Arena: American Airlines Center

Goal Song: Dallas Stars Fight Song” by Pantera

Current Mascot: (none)

Average Attendance: 14,658 (28th in NHL, 79.1% of Capacity)

Dallas Stars Brand History

When the Minnesota North Stars, whose nickname was decided by a fan contest, moved to Texas in 1993, they ditched the “North” and didn’t feel compelled to replace it with “South” or “Lone.”

Related: Do I Need to Rebrand?

Further, a great image of the Dallas Stars Sweater History courtesy of the Iso50 Blog.

Boston Bruins

Brand Value (Bruins Brand Value): $66 MillionBruins Sweater History

Team Colors:  Black, Gold, White

Current Arena: TD Garden

Goal Song: “Zombie Nation” by Kernkraft

Current Mascot: Blades the Bruin (@BruinBlades)

Average Attendance: 17,565 (16th in NHL, 100.0% Capacity)

Bruins Name

When grocery store tycoon Charles Adams brought a team to Boston, he hired former hockey great Art Ross to serve as his general manager. Adams tasked Ross with coming up with a nickname, with one of the requirements being that the team’s colors would be the same as his grocery store chains: brown and yellow. Ross decided on Bruins.

Bruins Logo and Sweater History

An Iconic team has iconic imagery, and the Boston Bruins are no different.  Little has changed since their inaugural season, and the team has seen its value grow since. The Crest and Logo history of the Bruins can be found on their website.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Brand Value (Penguins Brand Value): $71 MillionPenguins Sweater History

Team Colors:  Black, Vegas Gold, White

Current Arena: Consol Energy Center

Goal Song: “Song #2” by Blur

Mascot: Penguin Pete (Ecuadorian Penguin 1968-69), Re=Pete (1969-72), Iceburgh (1992-Present) (@iceburghNHL)

Average Attendance: 18,618 (9th in NHL, 101.3% Capacity)

Penguins Brand Name

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sponsored a name-the-team contest, but Carol McGregor, the wife of one of the franchise’s part owners, Jack McGregor, was the one responsible for the nickname. In his book, Pittsburgh Penguins: The Official History of the First 30 Years, Bob Grove describes how Carol McGregor came up with the name. “I was thinking of something with a P. And I said to Jack, ‘What do they call the Civic Arena?’ And he said, ‘The Big Igloo.’ So I thought, ice … Pittsburgh … Penguins.” More than 700 of the 26,000 contest entries were for Penguins (Mental_Floss).

Tampa Bay Lightning

Brand Value (Lightning Value): $33 MillionTampa Bay Lightning Logo

Team Colors:  Blue, white, black

Current Arena: Tampa Bay Times Forum

Goal Song: Lightning Goal Song

Current Mascot: Thunderbug (@ThunderBugTBL)

Average Attendance: 18,612 (10th in NHL, 96.9% Capacity)

Tampa Bay Lightning Name

In 1990, a thunderstorm served as inspiration for then-president of the Tampa Bay Hockey Group Phil Esposito’s decision to name his team the Lightning The team was named the Lightning, after Tampa’s status as the “Lightning Capital of North America.” Furthermore, Lightning expressed the fast action of a hockey game.

Also Referred to as “The Bolts”

Montreal Canadiens

Brand Value (Canadiens Value via Brandirectory): $126 MillionHabs (Canadiens) Logo History

Team Colors: Red, White, Blue

Current Arena: Bell Centre

Goal Song: Goal Song” by L’Oreille, further improved by one of the most iconic horns in Hockey.  This song has changed in the past few years.

Current Mascot: Youppi! (Formerly of the Montreal Expos

Average Attendance: 21,149 (3rd in NHL, 100% Capacity)

Canadiens Brand Name (Les Habs)

In 1909, John Ambrose O’Brien created the Club de Hockey Canadien. Ambrose wanted his team, a charter member of the National Hockey Association, to appeal to Montreal’s francophone population and he hoped to drum up a rivalry with the city’s established team, the Wanderers. The Canadiens are often referred to as “The Habs” or “Les Habs,” an abbreviation of “Les Habitants,” the name for the early settlers of New France.

The logo in itself is one of the most recognizable in all of sports, as it has been one of the longest standing logos, with only minor changes throughout history.

Habs Motto

(French) Nos bras meurtris vous tendent le flambeau, à vous toujours de le porter bien haut.

(English)To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high.

New York Rangers

Brand Value (NY Rangers Value): $120 MillionRangers Sweater History

Team Colors:  Red, White, Blue

Current Arena: Madison Square Garden

Goal Song: Slapshot” by Ray Castoldi

Current Mascot: (none)

Average Attendance: 18,006 (15th in NHL, 100% Capacity)

Namesake of the Rangers

In 1925, the New York Americans joined the National Hockey League and played their home games at the old Madison Square Garden. Tex Rickard, the boxing promoter and ex-gold prospector who built and owned the arena, decided he wanted his own NHL team, which he was awarded in 1926. Rickard’s team was immediately dubbed “Tex’s Rangers” as a pun referencing the paramilitary force founded in Texas during the 1830s. The Americans folded in 1943, while Tex’s Rangers remain.

Philadelphia Flyers

Brand Value (Brandirectory): $52 MillionFlyers Sweater History

Team Colors:  Orange, Black, White

Current Arena: Wells Fargo Center

Goal Song: My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” by Fall Out Boy

Current Mascot: (none)

Average Attendance: 19,839 (4th in NHL, 101.5% Capacity)

Flyers Name History

The team sponsored a name-the-team contest after Ed Snider, then-vice president of the Philadelphia Eagles, brought hockey back to the City of Brotherly Love in 1966. Snider’s sister, Phyllis, reportedly suggested the name Flyers, which sounds good when paired with Philadelphia but doesn’t have any real meaning.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Brand Value (Blue Jackets Brand Valuation): $23 Million

Team Colors:

Current Arena: Nationwide Arena

Goal Song: The Whip” by Locksley

Current Mascot: Stinger (@StingerCBJ)

Average Attendance: 14,698 (27th in NHL, 81.0% Capacity)

Columbus Blue Jackets Name

Blue Jackets was the winning entry in a name-the-team contest. According to the team’s website, the name “celebrates patriotism, pride and the rich Civil War history in the state of Ohio and, more specifically, the city of Columbus.” Ohio contributed more residents to the Union Army than any other state during the Civil War.

Detroit Red Wings

Brand Value (Detroit Red Wings Value): $76 MillionRed Wings Sweater History

Team Colors: Red, White

Current Arena: Joe Louis Arena (The Joe)

Goal Song: Hey-Hey Hockeytown” Also included are player specific goal songs for Niklas Kronwall, Todd Bertuzzi, and Henrik Zetterberg.  Further, Second and Fifth Goals have specific songs.

Current Mascot: Al the Octopus

Average Attendance: 22,149 (2nd in NHL, 110.4% Capacity)

The Legend of the Octopus

Part of any good brand is a good tradition.  One of the most loved in Detroit and hated throughout the rest of the US (so much that states surrounding Detroit away playoff games require licenses for Octopus Purchase) is the ‘Legend of the Octopus’.

History of the Red Wings Brand Name

After purchasing the Detroit Falcons in 1932, James Norris renamed the team after the “Winged Wheelers,” the nickname of the Montreal Hockey Club for which he once played. Norris chose a winged wheel as the team’s logo, a nod to Detroit’s growing reputation as the heart of the automobile industry.

What Else Goes into Hockey Branding?

The imagery, the imagery, the fans, the value, the names are all important factors in the development of a team’s brand image.  But what else goes into branding a team? Tomorrow, we will cover the Eastern Conference Playoff Teams, and the history incorporated in these.

We would like to thank the following experts for sharing information:

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