The Orlando Solar Bears take the ice
From the AHL to the LNAH, minor league teams have gone off the map to find their monikers. Here are 10 of the strangest throughout North America’s minor leagues.
In less than a week, Las Vegas’ NHL franchise will have its name and logo, and the discussion about all the possibilities the team passed over on its way to ‘____ Knights’ will begin. But no matter how bizarre the team name might sound to some, at least those same fans can take some solace in knowing the team’s not called the Baby Cakes.
And, yes, the Baby Cakes are the name of a real team, in a real league, playing real professional sports.
Earlier this week, the New Orleans Zephyrs, the triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins, renamed their squad the Baby Cakes. It’s not temporary, either. Lest you think the team had no other choice, it should be noted that it was the name selected out of seven finalists. So, again, Baby Cakes is now officially the moniker of a professional sports team, one that plays in a league that is the baseball equivalent of the AHL.
While there are no names quite that puzzling in minor league hockey, there are, nevertheless, some strange team names floating throughout the minor professional ranks. From the AHL to the FHL, here are the 10 strangest minor-league monikers in North America:
10. Florida Everblades (ECHL)
The Everblades are the first of several ECHL entries on this list, and only stay this high on the list because it’s actually pretty clear what the team is going for. Everglades. Everblades. Get it? Right. The logo isn’t bad at all, but it almost makes you wish they went with something alligator themed.
9. Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)
Though the Solar Bears have only been around for a scant four seasons, the name actually dates back more than 20 years. The Solar Bears were an IHL franchise before the league folded in 2001, and the ECHL team saw the rebirth of the name. It’s not the worst name, but the wordplay is a little thick. It screams 1990s fan-vote.
8. Danville Dashers (FHL)
Yes, like the reindeer, and yes, they leaned into that one hard even when the name first came about back in 1981. The logo for the Federal League team, which is a league that exists outside of the world of Slap Shot, sees a reindeer, presumably the eponymous Dasher, atop the team’s name. The connection to between Danville and deer is hard to figure, so it seems like it was simply a try at an alliterative name.
7. Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
Anyone familiar with the ECHL, or with Paul Bissonnette’s Twitter account, is likely familiar with the Nailers, if only because the name is ridiculous in the best of ways. But while the handle may seem nonsensical, it actually has a tie back to Wheeling. The city has a history of nail manufacturing, so it’s a nod to one of the former industries in town. That’s the truth, as strange as it may sound.
6. Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL)
Formerly known as the Road Warriors, the team changed its name ahead of the 2015-16 season. While it doesn’t make much sense to anyone outside of South Carolina, the name holds some meaning in Greenville. Beyond the actual existence of an animal named the swamp rabbit — who knew? — the name pays tribute to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a modern-day walking and cycling trail and former railway, which operated from 1920 to 1997.
5. Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs (SPHL)
It’s not a bad name, per se, but it’s a mouthful. There’s the connection to the railroad, of course, but it’s tough to really explain why the team went with ‘Dawgs’ over ‘Dogs.’ Apparently, the team had roughly 30 names to choose from, and Rail Yard Dawgs won out in the end, according to the Roanoke Times.
“I said, ‘Whoa, that’s a long name, but OK.’ I said a Rail Yard Dawg, it’s like a junkyard dog,” minority owner, and logo designer, Rob MacDougall told the Roanoke Times.
4. Assurancia Thetford (LNAH)
The Quebec-based league qualifies as minor-pro, but the names reflect how community based the clubs are. Assurancia takes its name from an insurance company that sponsors the club, but amazingly it’s not the most bizarre name the team has had. It was previously named after a window and door manufacturer, and their logo was a knight using a door as a shield.
3. Berlin River Drivers (FHL)
The River Drivers name is a long way of saying lumberjacks. Really, that’s it. It’s an interesting name, we’ll give them that, but, for those unfamiliar with the terms, it’s hard not picture a boat captain when you hear ‘River Drivers.’ That said, the logo and jerseys for the River Drivers, who are based out of New Hampshire, are awesome. It deserves to be a big-league logo.
2. Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
What is an IceHog? Can anyone answer that? The name dates back to the club’s UHL days, and somehow beat out Rhinos, Roughnecks, Ice Rangers and Rockets in a voting contest. It’s unique, if nothing else.
1. Saint-Georges Cool FM 103.5 (LNAH)
For the past five years, the team has been named after a radio station. Not sure this is worse than Baby Cakes, because at least it comes from a sponsorship, but you shouldn’t have to take a comically deep breath in order to recite the name of the team you play for, either. The logo actually reads Saint-Georges de Beauce Cool FM 103.5.
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