Unless you’re the Cleveland Browns, chances are your professional sports team has a logo. And while it’s expected of fans to rally around the banner of their chosen club, the sad truth is that not every logo is created equal. Today we bring you, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of those sometimes hallowed, sometimes ludicrous, images proudly worn by NHL players.
Detroit Red Wings – Good
Obviously I’m a little biased, but I think it’s hard to say that this isn’t one of the most classic sports logos of all time. The MLB has plenty of good ones too, but when it comes to the NHL even many of the Original Six teams have modified their logos to some extent. The only down side of the Wings logo is that it was damn near impossible to draw accurately on your Trapper-Keeper as an obsessed kid.
St. Louis Blues – Bad
The logo is simple and classy, but I fail to see anything tough or inspiring about a musical note. Since when is the blues a thing in St. Louis? I’ve been there twice and I’m pretty sure it’s more well known for its Jnco-pants wearing populace and murderous police force.
Edmonton Oilers – Good
It’s cool Alberta, if you wanna burn bonkers amounts of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere of a rapidly warming world and be proud of it, at least you’ve got a logo that makes your team look royally sexy.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Bad
Sorry Tampa Bay, I love the simplicity that the ‘bolts are rocking but the minimal blue on white just ends up being boring. The whole “naming your team after a force of nature or natural disaster” thing has always kind of bummed me out too. If teams were really going for local color or geographical correctness we’d have groups like the Boston “Woman Punchers,” the Dallas “Expense Accounts,” and the Ottawa “Polite White Men.”
Nashville Predators – Ugly
It ain’t easy having an abbreviated nickname like “the Preds,” and the in-profile image of Nashville’s banner saber-toothed cat looks more like it’s got a serious case of lockjaw instead of getting ready to dine on any number of NHL teams that have chosen to name themselves after an animal lower down the food chain. Pro tip: If you’re rooting against Nashville at the game make a shirt with Chris Hansen on it that says “To Catch a Predator.” Hilarity (and fistfights) will ensue.
New York Rangers – Good
I want to say that the Rangers logo is bad with every fiber in my being because I hate the club (I have a Pavlovian response to any footage of Messier lifting the cup that makes me punch a child), but I just can’t. Classic and classy, this one’s got that same level of Original Six cool. At least Tortorella’s not the coach anymore… Breathe, Roger, breathe.
Dallas Stars – Bad
Dallas has always kind of had a middle of the road logo, but what’s going on with that quasi-mint green they’re rocking now? The standard black and white, gold trim always seemed to suit them so well as a team. The whole combination with the new silver “D” over the star along with that weird green, makes them look more like a tech startup or a Canadian football team than anything else.
Carolina Hurricanes – Bad
I get it, but this one’s a little too abstract to fully appreciate. It reminds me more of a decal that would be featured on a Japanese robot’s chest than on a grown man playing a professional sport. I’d make a joke about the robots being called “Spinjas” but I can’t because that was already a thing. It was awesome.
Philadelphia Flyers – Good
Philly might not have been an Original Six team but that logo is arguably the best in the league. As a kid I only played spring season once (that was for the hardcore kids), and it was two towns over. Our team had Flyers colored jerseys and some kid on another team called us the “creamsicles.” I told him I was the ghost of Bobby Clark and then boarded the tar out of him, then blew a kiss to his mama from the penalty box.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Bad
Here’s another one that looks more like a farm team logo than a proper NHL one. I can kind of dig on the esoteric team name, but the lack of symmetry in the star gives me fits, and the whoosing swoop of the flag is hard to take serious. If the ‘Canes logo belongs on a Japanese toy robot, this is the logo for the latest G.I. Joe Saturday morning cartoon reboot.
Buffalo Sabers – Good
See, this is what the Blue Jackets logo should be like! It’s got a military crest vibe that looks legit instead of being intended for the Fisher Price brightly-colored-teething-ring set. It’s great that those hosers up in Buffalo have a logo they can be proud of, especially when the blue and gold do a fantastic job of drawing attention away from Jack Eichel’s teenage acne. Don’t hurt ‘em hammer!
Pittsburgh Penguins – Ugly
It’s kind of hard for me to believe that the top brass in the Penguins’ organization would take a look at their logo and say “You know what? Let’s go back to the old cartoony one.” I actually kind of like the call. The Pens are a serious franchise with a kind of goofy name/concept, and there’s something a little magical when you can rep tough through all the whimsy.
New Jersey Devils – Good
Uhh, you’re telling me that your logo is a cleverly designed “NJ” made to look harmlessly satanic while being named after the state’s most well known cryptozoological myth? It’s a shame that these guys don’t get no respect anymore, as nothing feels tougher than walking past Madison Square Garden on game night with that old Martin Brodeur jersey. Whenever the Devils mix in those little green accents into their color scheme, things just get so nasty.
Boston Bruins – Good
This one’s right up there with the Flyers’ logo. No matter how much I hate the Bruins, I’ve gotta show reverence to that iconic black and yellow “B.” Sometimes, I can even find deluded solace in the glorious memories of Bobby Orr and Don Cherry, instead of constantly having to hear about how good Zdeno Chara’s slap shot is. The dude is nineteen-and-a-half feet tall. Anybody that big better have one of the league’s best slap shots.
Vancouver Canucks – Bad
Full disclosure: Pavel Bure was my favorite hockey player in my youth and I wore a Canucks hat with old black/yellow/orange skate logo that stunk to high heaven from years of wear and tear. This is the prime example of a team dumping a great logo for an abominable one just to “shake things up.” Remember when the Pistons rocked those TEAL fire-breathing horse chess piece jerseys? Exactly. This logo is so bad that the Canucks alternate image is just a hockey stick. Unsurprisingly, the stick is way better.
Winnipeg Jets – Good
Sometimes you gotta dip for a few years before you come back to the party. As far as a modern logo for a new/old franchise is concerned, nothing says Canada (Winnipeg in particular) like aerial militarism. This logo is so fresh, expect to see the next big trap rapper gunned down on the streets while wearing one of these sweaters.
Ottawa Senators – Ugly
Of all the logo changes discussed in this piece the Ottawa Senators’ decision baffles me the most. From a completely objective standpoint I simply can’t imagine how anybody could think the current logo is an improvement on any of their old ones. Is it to psyche us out by having the Senator guy now turned in two-thirds perspective and giving us a rapey creepo stare? I give up.
Los Angeles Kings – Good
Assuming we’re not talking about any of that hideous purple crown jazz, The Kings are a good example of doing a decent job of updating your logo without totally destroying it. Sure, the classic logo from the 90’s is better, and you know you’re doing something right when N.W.A. reps your gear, but the new one’s got some admirable simplicity going for it that makes the change bearable.
San Jose Sharks – Bad
This logo has suffered from slight tweaks and modifications over the years. I understand the need to rejuvenate the fan base and be dynamic, but I also think it’s inherently cooler to keep a club’s continuity. The positive side is that it makes the OG fans feel badass when they show up with their old jerseys. The downside is that you’re wearing a lot of TEAL. This logo is also appropriate in the sense that hockey players can’t take a shot from the point anymore without their sticks splintering into a million pieces.
Calgary Flames – Good
The team is called the “Flames” and the “C” that stands for Calgary is on fire. Pretty hard to argue with the logic here. I also like how there’s kind of a Zen thing going on with the basic elemental name. Let’s hope that if Las Vegas gets a franchise they follow this enlightened path and entitle their team The Las Vegas “Impermanent Sands of Time.”
Florida Panthers – Bad
And I thought the Red Wings’ logo was hard to draw! Florida gets the award for the most bizarrely detailed and overly rendered logo. This pissed kitty looks admirably menacing, but the perspective of the huge foregrounded paws and tiny hind legs just kind of makes me giggle. Thanks to the Crayola box worth of different colors and the elaborate design, this would probably be more fun as a big poster to trip out to on psychedelics than to wear on your body.
New York Islanders – Good
Let’s just all admit that the Gorton’s fish stick man/lighthouse logo was the worst aesthetic decision made by any NHL team in the league’s history. That orange, eggplant, and TEAL abomination is the stuff of nightmares, and I’m glad to see it done with. On the other hand, the classic Islanders logo feels just that: classic. It’s a little funky with the rendering on the island’s edges, and in some ways it looks like it’s biting Washington’s logo, but no other crest evokes the mustachioed helmet-less days of yore like Long Island’s.
Minnesota Wild – Ugly
I love that there’s an NHL team back in Minnesota but this squad’s look is too much of a good thing. Ferocious looking bear? Awesome. Tons of trees to get the point across? Alright, I guess. A shooting star for the bear’s eye and weird borders on the jersey hems? Ok, now we’re entering some uncomfortably weird hippy territory. This is the vegan poutine of NHL logos.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Good
I can’t say I’m too wild about that chunky/veiny logo they just trotted out recently, but there are few better logos in the NHL than Toronto’s flat blue leaf containing the team’s name in a Helvetica-like font. It’s the kind of stuff fixed-gear-bike-riding design nerds drool over. All the best to Mike Babcock. I really hope he turns that team and around and gives the people of Ontario a winning club. Unless they’re playing the Red Wings, then it’s still “fuck ‘em.”
Anaheim Ducks – Ugly
I say with all seriousness that that goofy duck goalie-mask back when Anaheim was still “The Mighty Ducks” is better than their current logo (see my thoughts on the Penguins). The logo’s concept of the titular waterfowl’s webbed foot barely comes through, and that shade of gold clashes so hard with the red-orange trim that just looking at it makes me feel like Tim Gunn trapped in a Tommy Bahama’s. That said, if you wanted a visual distillation of a team’s soul, it doesn’t get any more accurate or ugly than this.
Washington Capitals – Good
After so many terrible changes it’s nice to see Washington return to their classic look. This one gets the award for being the most anachronistically 80’s looking of the bunch. I feel bad for the guys and gals showing up at the Verizon center with those old jerseys with the stars and the eagle and that gross TEAL backdrop (notice a trend here?).
Phoenix Coyotes – Bad
I wanted to make some joke about the current Phoenix logo’s canine howling because it was getting neutered, but my heart just wasn’t in it. What I really wish is that the team still had that ridiculous Kokopelli-esque logo. Those jerseys had all the funny hem decorations and extra patches too. It’s like when the Minnesota Wild designed their new look they were like “We want to emulate the ugliest jerseys in the NHL, get the Coyotes on the phone.”
Colorado Avalanche – Bad
Could be worse/could be better, but that whole bigfoot shoulder patch thing is rough to stomach. I’ve found that these jerseys actually look great when soaked in the blood of Claude Lemieux and Patrick Roy after being beaten to a pulp by Darren McCarty and Mike Vernon. That’s a look I can get behind.
Chicago Blackhawks – Ugly
If American exceptionalism has taught us anything it’s that we are very good at glossing over our awful past in regards to native peoples while blatantly celebrating them in sports logos. So while the Blackhawks’ logo is probably wildly offensive to many, it still has the benefit of looking really cool, and perhaps even being a more positive depiction of First Nations people (if we’re going to go that route), especially when compared to the Cleveland Indians and the morally reprehensible Washington Redskins.
Montreal Canadiens – Good
It’s cool that it has an “H” in the middle for the nickname, and if I said anything ill about the Canadiens it would probably bring some form of wrath down on me from the hockey gods, especially considering this is the first year since 1970 that no Canadian team has made it to the playoffs. I respect the hockey gods, and frankly, right now I don’t need any more problems in my life.