We spend a lot of time here at Welcome To Your Karlsson Years thinking about hockey logos. Maybe it’s because Ottawa has had mostly terrible logos for years. (Gold sparkles, the Senagoth, SNES, three-dimensional HE’S LOOKING RIGHT AT ME! Senator) backed up by even worse jersey design (the swoop, the flying squirrel flaps). What’s surprising is that the NHL has its share of stinkers out there. It gets even more embarrassing when compared to other relatively low budget leagues. Despite having all of this money for designers, the NHL absolutely gets its ass kicked by the ECHL, whose aesthetic game is unsurpassed.
As far as we can tell, hockey logos have three tiers:
1) Heritage: reserved for very old teams, like the Habs or Red Wings or Oilers or Maple Leafs, whose brand is so richly respected that it doesn’t matter if the terminology, concept, execution, or grammar don’t make a lick of sense. This kind of pedigree can’t be attained by any means other than time and patience. Teams may emulate (see Sens’ current attempts) but it’s a long road to hoe, and it has little to do with design and much, much more to do with trying to get your father to like you.
2) Safe middle ground: the majority of logos in the NHL, comprised of at least one and no more than three of the following elements: A) forces of nature, B) Animals, which are either B1) ferocious, or B2) playing hockey, C) a tough looking man, usually in a tough profession or belonging to a class of ancient warrier, D) a weapon, or E) something simply denoting that the team is the best (see: Kings. No team would ever be The Mid-Level Dukes. It’s only a matter of time before we get a Kansas City Number Ones.)
3) NHL 2.0 High Concept: Hopefully dead. Either is an adjective turned into a noun (Wild), or is a logo that doesn’t resemble anything at all (Buffaslug, Thrashers, Todd McFarlane’s Oilers logo). Is simply a byproduct of trying to distinguish oneself, or maybe hockey ownership in non-traditional markets not having any idea what resonates in a league where everyone is trying to reach that traditional tier, or maybe even the league attempting to set off league-wide aesthetic overhaul to make money on jersey sales.
All things considered, the ECHL has the perfect balance of the totally absurd and thus totally awesome (Orlando Solar Bears, Florida Everblades, Toledo Walleye), or actual, beautifully designed logos that display creativity and solid execution.
In this recurring feature, I’ll pick three ECHL logos and let’s all vote on the best. I’ll run this feature mostly when we don’t have anything else to write about.
Las Vegas Wranglers
Idaho Steelheads. Definitely.
Of the three you suggest, I suppose I’d go with the Colorado Eagles, although I don’t like how the edges of the logo aren’t defined–I typically favour self-contained logos. The Chicago Express train looks like a dildo, and the Las Vegas Wranglers bring back heretofore repressed memories of the Ottawa Renegades and Rebel.
Of the teams of the past, the best are the Dayton Bombers, Wheeling Thunderbirds, Pee Dee Pride (what the…), and the Hampton Roads Admirals.
“The Chicago Express train looks like a dildo…”
So….The Chicago Express wins then.
ECHL: also the league with the most fish-related logos.
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