Monday, September 24, 2007

Niagara IceDogs

Yikes, it's been a busy weekend. I had my best friend in town and we went to see his Washington State Cougars get blown the heck out of the water by USC. What an awful display they put on. We left at halftime and hightailed it to the Rose Bowl to see my Washington Huskies get blown the heck out of the water by UCLA. Kind of a brutal weekend of college football for us. Anyway, I haven't had much time, thankfully I have correspondents. Big thanks go out to John Baker for his review of another random logo. Expect more from him in the future...

When owners of a new minor-league franchise are at a loss for a new and clever name, there is a temptation to take any noun or adjective and simply stick the word “dogs” on the end of it. Sometimes, if the owners are feeling particularly clever or creative, they might change things around a bit and spell it “Doggs,” or, God help us, “Dawgs.” Thus, we have had inflicted on us Sea Dogs, Surf Dawgs, RiverDogs, Sun Dawgs, Beach Dogs, and Swamp Dogs, to name just a few.

Since one of my very own favorite teams ends its name with the word “Cats,” it is probably wise to point out that not all household pets are created equal. Some of these names are more clever than others. When the city of Memphis was angling for an NFL team some years ago, the proposed name was the Hound Dogs. That would have been a great name. Not only did it have an obvious connection to the iconic Elvis Presley song, but there really are hound dogs in Tennessee. When the owners of the Washington NBA franchise decided that Bullets was perhaps not the best name for a team located in a city with one of the highest rates of gun violence in the country, one of the proposed alternatives they came up with was Sea Dogs. This suggestion was met with laughter and derision, but at least the term already existed. If Washington, D.C. were located on the ocean, instead of some obscure river, and if the town was known for its maritime tradition, rather than for sex, lies and video tape, it might have worked. This would be a great name for a team located in Norfolk or Annapolis.

But some of these other alternatives are just silly. Surf Dogs and Beach Dogs bring to mind critters who make your local beach a hazardous place to walk. And if this is a women’s team we are talking about, would that make them the Beach Bitches? Come to think of it, that would be a pretty good name for, say, a roller derby team, but it would probably be a bit over the top for a team you might want to take your kids to watch.

This brings us to today’s entry, the Niagra IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League, located in St Catharines Ontario. What exactly is an IceDog, anyway? Most dogs I am familiar with do not seem to care for ice any more than these other animals. Of course, there are those dogs in Alaska and Canada who run in those long races, but they are usually either referred to by their breed, most often Alaskan or Siberian Huskies, or are called sled dogs. Now, that wouldn’t be such a bad name for a team located in someplace like Fairbanks or Nome, but as far as I can tell, such hard working canines are not indigenous to southern Ontario. It seems an ice dog is just a dog with the word “ice” tacked on to the front of its name, and most dogs do not fair much better on ice than most people. They tend instead to get cold and fall down a lot, not the sort of image you would want for a hockey team. Some time this season, the IceDogs will take on their rivals the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to determine the alpha male of the frozen canine set. Watch where you step, and don't eat that yellow snow!

So IceDogs is a dumb name. But perhaps the owners could get around that by coming up with a really compelling logo. How about a fierce or determined husky? How about some mean-looking critter biting through a hockey stick? How about a figure raising his hind leg above an opponents logo in a gesture of distain? Perhaps they could have, but alas, they didn’t. Instead, they came up with a cartoon-ish representation of a dog in a hockey uniform.

I am trying to figure out what I like about this logo, and the answer is, well, nothing really. There is nothing about it that tends to make it distinctive or connect it to the local community. It is just a dog in a hockey uniform. The drawing itself would not be bad if it were submitted as an assignment in a high school art class, but is otherwise nothing special. It is flat and two dimensional. It is not even clear whose uniform this bland pit bull-looking creature is wearing, as he has a big white X on his shoulder, which appears to be apropos of nothing in particular. The colors and word mark are not bad, but they are not especially compelling, either. The overall effect is just bland.

It doesn’t even make me want to bay at the moon in disgust, but instead to want to curl up on the floor and go to sleep. As logos go, I can hear this one barking.

Team: Niagara Ice Dogs
League: Ontario Hockey League
Location: St. Catharines, Ontario
Arena: Jack Gatecliff Arena

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At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Background for the logo:
The Niagara IceDogs are the transplanted Mississauga IceDogs (who moved, cuz the Toronto St. Michael's Majors moved into THEIR digs and forced the move). At any rate, the original Mississauga Ice Dogs' owner was Donald S. Cherry, the former NHL coach, one-game NHL player and current media poobah of the CBC's number one show, Hockey Night in Canada. The bombastic Cherry was also famous for owning a bull terrier named Blue, who was a star on Cherry's eponymous show throughout her life (yes the tough guy's mutt was a she). Blue's long-since gone, replaced by a new Blue. But Cherry used the dog as the basis for the team's name and logo when he formed it. Cherry was bought out by some local businessmen, who in turn, sold it to Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Ottawa Senators and the Majors. Which eventually led to the once-appropriately monickered Ice Dogs becoming the 'Los Angeles Lakers' of the OHL. The name might not make sense, but given the still-going strong Cherry's popularity (one of the ten top Canadians of all time), the odds of changing the nickname are probably not great.

Thanks for an interesting site, GM

At 11:21 PM, Blogger Brandon said...

Anonymous - I knew that actually, and I've been meaning to post a rebuttal, if you will.

Also, if you ever saw the Mississauga IceDogs logo from before the transformation to the Blue logo, this could be considered a big success.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Michael said...

I was a huge fan of the logo they used just prior to being moved. I really think this was a giant leap back from what they just had. The profile of Blue in front of a majestic red maple leaf was stylish and the uniform really worked well as it made the kids look really professional.

...and of course I was trying to buy a jersey, so.. if anybody reads this.. drop me a line on how I can get my hands on a Mississauga Ice Dogs jersey circa 2006-07. (No such luck on eBay yet.)

At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have all the 2006/2007 game used jerseys for the Ice dogs.
I also have a few of the metallic dogs also.
Plus several game used sticks from the team.

At 3:52 AM, Blogger Ryan aka said...

If the team is successful after a couple of seasons, and the city gets a new arena, don't be surprised the IceDogs don't change their name.
Keep in mind that the team had very little time to get everything in order.

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