Matt Larkin

Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News. He's been part of the THN team since 2011, but he's been married to hockey since he got beat up for collecting NHL sticker books in the mid-1980s. If you like strong opinions on the game itself, fantasy hockey tips and a hefty dose of pop culture in your readings, he's your man. And yes, the eyebrows are real.

NHL logo rankings No. 16: San Jose Sharks

Matt Larkin
SharksMAIN

On the heels of Sharknado 2 comes San Jose’s logo, checking it at No. 16 in THN’s rankings. As you can imagine, any image falling in the middle of the pack divided the voters.

Half the room praised it for its sense of fun and wonder – It’s a friggin’ shark! When is a shark not cool? – and the other condemned it for being too cartoony and reeking of the 1990s predatory animal team name boom (cough, Jurassic Park, cough, Toronto Raptors).

On the plus side, San Jose’s current shark logo is one mean S.O.B. Its teeth are razor-sharp and its eyes glow with the same yellowy orange found in San Jose’s uniform scheme. Sharks are scary enough. When their eyes glow demonically, it’s just cruel.

Then again, nothing about the shark feels overly real. The teal and black suggest it’s coated with water and shadow, but the world associates sharks with grey more than any other color since most of them are, you know, grey. The glowing eyes and cartoony sneer also make the shark look like some kind of cyborg mutant Shredder and Krang cooked up to battle the Ninja Turtles. Holy mackerel, Donny! It’s Robo-Shark!

The fun thing about a logo with so many pros and cons? The redesign possibilities are endless. Whether you prefer a more organic-looking shark or you want to take the surreal look even further, we want to see what you can do. Take your best shot and send your art to editorial@thehockeynews.com. Maybe we’ll publish yours among our favorites at the end of the ranking process. Don’t stop with San Jose, either. Draw one for all 30 NHL teams if you have the artistic itch.

All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

HISTORY OF THE SHARKS LOGO

Toronto’s shameless use of the Raptor was deplorable, but the shark, which was chosen out of 5,000-plus fan entries before the team began play in 1991-92, is entirely defensible. Sharks are found all over the Pacific Ocean and specifically in the Bay Area’s Red Triangle, so it’s not a stretch for a San Jose team to feature one. Better yet, the region is known for its shark research facilities.

Note that I said ‘Sharks’ was chosen out of the 5,000 entries – not that it won. Ownership did you a huge favor, San Jose fans. The winning entry was the Blades. Really? That’s the best the Silicon Valley could come up with? Woof. The Gunds decided ‘Blades’ sucked sounded too much like a weapon and had gang connotations in the area, so they went with something equally deadly but not man-made.

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L’Heisenberg: Drug dealer busted for Montreal Canadiens meth

Matt Larkin
Habs logo

You clearly don’t know who you’re dealing with, so let Michel Emond clue you in. He is not in danger, you guys. Michel Emond IS the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of him? No! Emond is the one who KNOCKS.

Mandatory comparisons out of the way, Emond’s alleged jig is up. Police have apprehended the accused methamphetamine kingpin, 36, in Costa Rica after hunting him for two years. The charges indicate he ran the operation out of his home in Laval, Que. Really should’ve driven an RV deep into the Laurentians for his cook sessions, but I digress.

Where’s the hockey hook? Look no further than the drugs themselves. The charges suggest Emond’s trademark was to shape the tablets like the Montreal Canadiens logo. If the meth is pure enough, you could call it ‘Et Le Blue.’

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What retirement? Teemu Selanne may sign with Jokerit in KHL

Matt Larkin
TeemuSelanne

How much has Teemu Selanne driven us wild flirting with retirement over the last decade? Even when he’s “gone,” he may not be really gone.

Finnish team Jokerit has offered the future Hall of Famer, 44, a contract. It would mean playing in his home city of Helsinki and with the Finnish League team that developed him. It would also mean helping Jokerit transition to the Kontinental League, as this coming season the franchise will become the circuit’s first Finnish entry.

Selanne told sports.ru he’s considering the offer from team owner Roman Rotenberg, and that he’ll make a decision in the next three weeks.

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Q&A with Kyle Dubas, the Leafs’ 28-year-old assistant GM

Matt Larkin
Kyle Dubas

The Toronto Maple Leafs shocked the hockey world last week with their progressive hiring of Kyle Dubas, 28, as assistant GM. Diehards were familiar with Dubas already, as he’d been GM of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds since he was 25. Advanced stat heads also danced jigs upon hearing the news, as Dubas is known as a major proponent of metrics like Corsi and Fenwick.

By now, though, you’ve likely read all that about Dubas already. Who is he? And what is it like being an NHL executive before his 30th birthday? I tracked him down for a Q&A.

The Hockey News: You were close to your grandfather, Walter, and he coached the Greyhounds when you were young. Learning from him, did you know from a young age you wanted to be in the management side of hockey?

Kyle Dubas: I grew up probably like everybody else in Canada. I wanted to be a hockey player, and when I was 14 that came to a close. Being around hockey my whole life and around my grandfather, Walter, certainly lent itself to me in learning a lot about the game and the way that it was coached and operated. Once my playing days were forced out of me, it was just a natural for me to want to learn as much as I could about the hockey operations side of it, and I fortunately had that ingrained in me from a young age.

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NHL logo rankings No. 21: Toronto Maple Leafs

Matt Larkin
MapleLeafsMain

Sacred cow, meet slaughterhouse.

How dare we slot an Original Six team 21st overall in our logo rankings? A healthy faction of Leaf haters will stand up and cheer at this decision. Those who bleed blue and white, however, have likely fallen off their chairs already.

The easiest way to understand our logic: the voting process awarded more weight to aesthetics than to anything else. “But it’s so OLD!” is not a strong enough defense. Cultural significance and understated classiness are desirable qualities, but how good does the emblem actually look? Toronto’s simplistic design fails the eye test in its modern form. it earns points for its iconography – what’s more Canadian than a Maple Leaf? – but it’s rigid, almost too symmetrical, creating a coldness that robs it of its classic feel. The leaf on Canada’s flag looks more like an actual leaf. Toronto’s earlier logos, which often featured “veiny” leaves (leafs? ugh), were warmer, more organic, and far more pleasing to the eye.

Also, covering the symbol in big, blocky writing robs it of its romanticism. There’s no danger of mistaking you for another team, Toronto. A leaf like the one adorning center ice at Maple Leaf Gardens would be far prettier.

Are you brave enough to carve up the famous Maple Leaf logo and design a new one for Toronto? Send your best work to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the end of our ranking process, we’ll publish our favorite submission for every team. If you enjoy drawing Toronto’s, keep the fun going and try one for all 30 NHL teams.

(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

HISTORY OF THE MAPLE LEAFS LOGO

The Leafs weren’t always the Leafs, of course. They began as the Torontos, a.k.a. the Blueshirts, a.k.a. The Arenas in their early NHL days from 1917-1919. The crest was as simple as it gets, but featured an elegant shield and the blue and white we’ve come to know so well.

 

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NHL 15 promises dangles galore with Superstar Skill Stick

Matt Larkin
NHL 15

If you’re a hardcore fan of EA Sports’ NHL video game series, you remember the transition from button deking to joystick deking vividly. It was like taking the training wheels off. It felt weird and wobbly at first, but once you got the hang of it, there was nothing holding you back anymore.

The Skill Stick, popularized in NHL 07, turned the right analog portion of a controller into your hockey stick, with the left analog functioning as your body. You could deke and improvise like never before. You could shame your friends by undressing their goalies on breakaways and there was a new degree of “ownership” to your goals, as they reflected your ability to maneuver the stick.

Flash forward to the upcoming NHL 15, which launches on PlayStation 4 and XBox One Sept. 9 (Xbox 360 and PS3 as well, but the hype is all about how the game will look in a new generation of consoles). Early footage of the game suggests new leaps in graphics, facial detail, hitting and general gameplay. The latest teaser trailer unveils the Superstar Skill Stick, which takes dangling to a whole new level. Check it out:

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NHL logo rankings No. 22: Ottawa Senators

Matt Larkin
SensMain

The Ottawa Senators check in at No. 22 in THN’s logo rankings. This franchise has never fielded a truly winning crest, and maybe the name deserves the blame. When you’re called the Senators, your logo is doomed to be boring or innaccurate – or both.

The original logo of the modern (1990s-born) Senators was about as exciting as a stack of Premium Plus crackers, which is what you’d expect for a team called the Senators. The latest incarnation mostly elicits guffaws in the THN office. We can’t take the character seriously. Maybe it’s the fact he’s dressed in battle gear like a Spartan or, more accurately, a Roman soldier, when his government title is Senator. If we subscribe to the idea of a general from the Roman senate, as the franchise originally described this logo, the armor isn’t what most Senators wore in ancient Rome. This is. And it would’ve been awfully tough to win wars or hockey games wearing that. Also, nothing about the logo connects to the Canadian, Ottawa-based idea of a senator in the Canadian Parliament.

The disconnect between team name and image puts the Ottawa logo at an immediate disadvantage. Also not helping: the cartoony look. It’s almost too detailed, too comic booky, to place on a hockey sweater. The poor, overly serious fella attracts teasing. You want to swipe the helmet off his head and run circles around him until he complains you’ll get him in trouble with his manager at the Caesar’s Palace casino.

Think you can improve on the Senators design? Submit your artwork to editorial@thehockeynews.com. When we complete our logo rankings, we’ll share our favorite redesigns from readers. You can submit a drawing for all 30 NHL logos if you desire.

(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

HISTORY OF THE SENATORS LOGO

The Ottawa Senators existed as a franchise in the late 1800s and lasted a few decades before folding, but they aren’t technically the same franchise as today’s version.

The “new” Ottawa Senators were founded in 1990, and a pre-launch logo popped up on T-shirts and hoodies all over the city by 1991. It was accurate, with the two Ts forming a representation of the Peace Tower. But it wasn’t pretty. Think for a moment how plain and ugly the logo is… then stop and realize what the Washington Capitals have gotten away with for years.

 

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NHL logo rankings No. 23: Winnipeg Jets

Matt Larkin
JetsTOP

The No. 23 spot in the THN logo rankings belongs to the Winnipeg Jets. Popular team with its fans, not so popular among anyone predicting the 2014-15 Central Division standings, and not so popular in the logo department. That said, as we creep up toward the middle of the logo ladder, each ranking becomes more contentious and closer to split down the middle. Winnipeg’s critics outweigh its supporters, but the anti-Jet sentiment isn’t unanimous.

We can at at least say team’s design depicts what it’s supposed to depict, unlike jumbled messes such as, say, Colorado’s. There’s no debating that a fighter jet adorns Winnipeg’s sweaters. Another plus: the logo is inspired by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Simple, understated design and a historical connection? That should be a recipe for a high rank, but “simple” is the operative word. It’s too basic. The plane is just dropped on top of the existing Air Force logo.

Most of the THN staffers laughed this logo out of the room, comparing it to Microsoft Word’s Clip Art. Remember Clip Art images? Those stock photos and cartoony symbols you printed off your computer to take up space on your science fair Bristol boards? The Jets logo has that feel to it. The plane itself has very little detail and the Maple Leaf feels like a lazy attempt to placate fans of a Canadian team. The logo looks more like a glorified shoulder patch in the eyes of its haters.

Do you agree the Jets logo was slapped together too quickly? Try your hand at a new design, preferably without using Clip Art. Draft up a hot new look and send it to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the conclusion of our logo rankings, we’ll share our favorite redesign submissions from readers. Don’t stop with the Jets, either. You can try your hand at all 30 NHL logos if you want.

(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

HISTORY OF THE JETS LOGO

Don’t confuse the Jets with the, er, Jets. The original Winnipeg Jets belong to Arizona Coyotes canon. The modern Jets extend from the ugly, pitiful roots of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise.

What on Earth is a Thrasher? Even though the franchise’s horrific uniforms had an unmistakably “Xtreme” feel to them, the Thrasher name didn’t come out of nowhere. The brown thrasher is actually Georgia’s state bird, and fans voted in the team name. Second place, the Flames, would’ve been awkward for Atlanta and Calgary. Those voters had evidently never heard of the embarrassing Rough Riders/Roughriders debacle in the CFL.

The brown thrasher isn’t an intimidating bird, but it’s elegant enough and could’ve made for a decent logo. Alas, this team was founded in the late 1990s, at the peak of ugly new-age jerseys. The result was this:

 

Sigh. It looks like someone stuck a bird’s head in a bowl of butterscotch pudding and stirred it with a hockey stick.

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