Playing the name game

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There is perhaps no medium in which a name matters more than in sport.

From Blackhawks to Bruins; Falcons to Flames; Pirates to Pelicans; a name holds plenty in the sporting world.

Get it right, and you have a marketer's dream – a product that can be sold decade after decade based on its intrinsic coolness (think of the NHL's Original Six, the New York Yankees or the Boston Celtics).

Mess it up and you end up with a team nickname to which no discernible identity can be attached (I'm looking at you Minnesota Wild).

Sports fans are a loyal bunch, and though there are many factors that go into choosing their favourite teams, identity has a lot to do with it.

The name game is being played a lot in regional circles lately, with the newly coined Ottawa RedBlacks CFL franchise the subject of both scrutiny and praise.

From my corner, there's a lot to like about the RedBlacks, starting with a simple, easily identifiable name and the resurrection of the classic “R” logo, albeit in an updated form.

It's part of an overall trend in professional sports in which teams are going back to basics with their looks, names and overall identities.

In the NHL, both the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes recently unveiled new uniforms short on frills and long on attempts to convey a more classic style.

I'm not huge on either uniform, but they are a step in the right direction.

All of this gets me thinking about how fortunate I think we are here in Leeds-Grenville, where colourful and cool team names abound.

Look at the team names attached to our area high schools – Pirates, Giants, Red Rams, Crusaders, Warriors, Trojans, Mustangs, Lions, RedHawks, Spartans, Anguilles and Knights.

There isn't a clunker in the bunch and some have a fierce and majestic logo to match. There is something primitively cool about the Pirates' sword-bearing buccaneer or the Giants' Minnesota Vikings-esque insignia.

Trust me, as someone who attended high schools where the sports teams bore the monikers “Comets” and “Thunder” respectively, we're comparatively hip here.

The strong team names aren't restricted to our high schools, though.

You can't go wrong with a Jr. A hockey team bearing a logo fashioned on the Chicago Blackhawks' classic design (Brockville Braves) or something with the simple but effective alliteration of the Athens Aeros.

The former South Grenville Rangers of the Rideau-St. Lawrence Jr. B Conference announced earlier this year an intention to do a complete overhaul and become the “Prescott Flyers.”

It's a great idea in my eyes – a logo based on the Flyers' classic winged “P,” and colours to match.

Many of our team names in this area wisely trade on the swashbuckling and shipping heritage of this section of the St. Lawrence River, such as the Pirates or the Brockville Privateers. Others, such as the Gananoque Islanders, opt to highlight our tie-in to the 1000 Islands.

All are good in my books. They're also a reminder that we live in a pretty darned nice section of the province.

So, as Ottawa's CFL fans debate the merits of their team's new handle, I am reminded that we've got it pretty good here- strong team names for an area rich in sporting heritage.




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