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 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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NHL logo rankings No. 24: Los Angeles Kings

Adam Proteau
KINGSlogo (via sportslogos.net)

The Los Angeles Kings may have won two of the past three Stanley Cup championships, but in THN’s current NHL logo ranking contest, they’re not nearly as much of a mover-and-shaker. Our in-house panel of judges ranked L.A.’s current logo 24th overall.

The Kings’ straight-ahead approach to this incarnation of their logo – featuring the initials of the city above the crown that in some form has been a part of every logo since the organization’s inception in 1967 – isn’t especially creative or eye-catching. Sure, it’s better than some of their more daring fashion experiments, but that’s damning with faint praise.

Maybe you think you could improve on the Kings’ current logo. If so, submit it to editorial@thehockeynews.com – and once our logo rankings conclude, we’ll share them online.

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

HISTORY OF THE KINGS LOGO

When the Kings debuted in the 1967-68 season, they wore purple jerseys at home and gold on the road. The colors were chosen by team owner and expat Canadian Jack Kent Cooke, and represented royalty – and to match nicely with the color scheme of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The crown logo that appeared on the jersey differed from the primary logo.

After eight seasons, the Kings changed logos for the first time. The team added horizontal lines around the name to provide a sense of speed, and kept their second logo for eight years (while also adding purple pants after spending their initial seasons wearing gold pants).

In 1988, the Kings’ logo changed drastically. Gone was the purple and gold, replaced by a black-and-silver version of their previous logo. The change coincided with the acquisition of NHL icon Wayne Gretzky, and their new colors were a match with a different L.A. team – the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders (who have since relocated back to their original home in Oakland). Because there were no throwback jersey nights, Gretzky would never wear purple and gold in his eight years with the organization. Read more

Who would make your favorite team’s all-time roster?

Ryan Kennedy
Toews-Sioux

The Indiana Ice of the United States League are on hiatus right now due to arena issues, but the franchise has kept itself in the game by releasing its tenth anniversary all-star team. Notable names include Washington defenseman John Carlson, Boston blueliner Torey Krug and Calgary netminding prospect Jon Gillies. Which got me thinking about other programs around the hockey world.

What would the all-time teams look like for teams in major junior, NCAA or even Europe? As a lark, I put together a couple and the results are pretty interesting. For example, here’s who the University of North Dakota could trot out:

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NHL logo rankings No. 26: Tampa Bay Lightning

Rory Boylen
lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been around since 1992-93 and have had different variations on their logo, but their current look is the only one that doesn’t have lettering on it.

I’ve got to be honest – when seven THN staffers sat around debating and ranking these logos, I was voting for the Lightning to go a little higher than 26. Usually – though not always – I’m not a fan of logos that have the team’s name in it, so I have to give Tampa Bay credit for dropping the text from their look. The blue lightning bolt and circle may look plain to some, but to my eyes, it’s the most refined look Tampa Bay has had in its 20-plus year history.

But when it came to ranking all 30 NHL logos, Tampa Bay didn’t get much love from most of the seven staffers. It’s plain and it doesn’t grab the attention of everyone. So here we are, with the Lightning ranked at 26, just ahead of the Vancouver Canucks.

Think you can design a logo for Tampa Bay that would make our judges reconsider such a low ranking? Get your creative juices flowing and, using whichever color scheme you want, come up with a new look for Tampa Bay and submit it to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the conclusion of our logo rankings, we’ll share our favorite reader re-designs. And if you enjoyed coming up with a new look for Tampa Bay, try your hand at the other NHL logos too.

HISTORY OF LIGHTNING LOGO
The original Tampa Bay Lightning look was a design put together by Phil Esposito and colleagues Mel Lowell and Henry Paul. From the Lightning’s website:

Together with colleagues Mel Lowell and Henry Paul, Esposito began sketching out designs for what would eventually become the Tampa Bay Lightning logo.

“I literally would go home at night, and sit in my office and draw pictures of lightning bolts on notebook paper,” Esposito said. “And remember, I am no artist. But all of us would come in the next day and sit down with each other to compare what we had come up with. And let me tell you, between the three of us, there was a lot to look at.”

…Initially, Esposito had just settled on a silver lightning bolt with the word “Tampa” across the top. Lowell and Paul then altered it slightly to include the circular backdrop on which it is emblazoned, which still is incorporated in today’s logo, unveiled in the spring of 2011.

Perhaps the most key contribution, however, came from long-time Tampa sports journalist and pioneer Tom McEwen, who advised Esposito to include the word “Bay” as well, signifying a union between Tampa and its neighboring communities.

“Tom told me it had to say “Tampa Bay” no matter what, and that, honestly, was the best decision I could have made at the time,” Esposito said. “There was such a great divide between Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg that I could not believe. So I thought, yes, in order to be successful, we have to unite.”

lightning1

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NHL logo rankings No. 27: Vancouver Canucks

Rory Boylen
canuckslogo

The Vancouver Canucks have had a few primary logos in franchise history – and we think the current look isn’t very good.

Why? Because in 1995 the Canucks came under control of Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment and though the name was changed to Canucks Sports and Entertainment in 2008, it’s the same thing. And in 1997, the Canucks changed their color and logo away from the streaking skate to the current whale, which could also stand for the ownership company. So this logo promoted the ownership as much as it did the hockey team. Major turn off for us.

But at least with Vancouver being a coastal city the whale jumping up out of the water makes sense. And, of course, the “C” stands for Canucks. So while we aren’t fans of the Canucks logo, it isn’t the worst because a) it’s a logo, unlike Washington’s look, and b) it does make sense for the city.

But we like some of their alternate logos better.

Think you can design an improved logo for the Canucks? As we’ve done with Carolina, Colorado and Washington, we’re opening it up to you, the reader, to get creative and come up with your own design for the Vancouver Canucks. Use whichever color scheme you want, whether it’s the current combination, the old yellow, orange and black, or some other variation, and send it in to editorial@thehockeynews.com. After we’ve finished rolling out all 30 NHL logo rankings, we’ll pick the best redesigns for each team and share them on the blog.

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



North Vancouver’s Joe Borovich
hit the nail on the head with his Stink-in-Rink design for the very first Vancouver Canucks NHL logo. The blue and green color combination connect well and the stick that breaks up the oval makes the logo into a “C” formation for Canucks. Vancouver enjoyed its first success with this logo, finishing atop the Smythe Division in 1974-75, although they were bounced in Round 1 of the playoffs.

This one was so good the team throws back to it often today. The Canucks’ colors and look have changed a few times over the years, but none are better than the original. Here’s hoping the Canucks go back to this look full-time someday. Hey, they’d move up in our rankings.

canucks1

The black, gold and orange (later yellow and red) color scheme was introduced in 1978-79 and though the skate blade was the main logo, the awful, awful jerseys hid it on the shoulder. Rememeber the Flying V? Yikes. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 28: Washington Capitals

Rory Boylen
capslogo

It’s Day 3 of our NHL logo rankings, so we introduce a look we slotted in at No. 28: The Washington Capitals.

The reason this one didn’t get much love is because it’s less a logo than it is just the team’s name being spelled out. The “T” in Capitals forms a hockey stick that has a red puck next to it and the three stars along the top are an addition to the original look. The red, white and blue colors are representative of the capital city of the USA, but other than that, it’s just “Washington Capitals” in italics. Not much to it.

Past Capitals logos have included an eagle and the Washington Capitol, though they were never embraced and the color scheme changed with them. But you figure there would be a lot of options for any potential new look for Alex Ovechkin’s team. Think you can do a better job coming up with a logo for Washington? Now’s your chance.

Like we have with Carolina and Colorado, we’re inviting you to redesign the Washington Capitals logo. Use whichever color combination you want and submit your new look to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the end of our logo ranking release, we will run our favorite redesigns from all 30 teams.

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

HISTORY OF THE CAPITALS LOGO
In the beginning, the Capitals logo represented the truly awful. In its first season in the NHL, Washington’s 21 points was about half the amount their expansion brothers, the Kansas City Scouts, accumulated. Washington’s .131 points percentage is still the worst in NHL history and in the era of the salary cap floor, it’s hard to imagine a team ever being that bad again.

The first Washington logo was very basic, straightforward and the colors popped. There are some obvious differences between the first Caps logo and the current “throwback” look. The slant of the letters goes to the left instead of the right, there are no stars above “Washington,” the stick is red, the puck is blue and the font is more plain. The Capitals used this logo from their inception in 1974-75 until the 1995-96 season.

washingtonlogo1

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