Many years ago now, I wrote about the challenge of re-branding one of my fantasy hockey teams in a league where team identities were treated very seriously.
In the years since then, that particular league has itself rebranded (going from the NHA – National Hockey Association – to the NSHL – National Simulated Hockey League) and decoupled itself from the community at SportsLogos.Net. With that decoupling came a lessened emphasis on unique team identities.
Because of that lack of emphasis on identity, I realized a couple seasons ago that many of the teams were using clip art logos or other designs that they didn’t have the rights to. I thought it might be a cool feature to the league if we sold team shirts, which we couldn’t do if we didn’t have the rights to the logos, so I set about refreshing many of the team identities.
In chronological order, the updates for six teams are as follows:
Fort Worth Fighting Squirrels
The original logo for the Fort Worth Fighting Squirrels, as far as I can tell, was a concept for a team called the Flying Squirrels created by a user at the SportsLogos.Net forums. The NSHL’s Fighting Squirrels never got permission to use it, they simply needed a logo after deciding on a new team name (having abandoned their previous identity as the Kelowna Kodiaks) and found that one.
For that reason, I’d been looking to make an update to this team for awhile. My initial attempts focused on a forward-facing squirrel head and I couldn’t get the eyes quite right. I switched to a 3/4 view and it came together quickly from there. By itself it’s hard to tell that the logo is meant to be a squirrel and not any other kind of rodent, so the “Fighting Squirrels” wordmark got added. It’s a little sloppy, as is the area where the squirrel’s neck would be, but it works.
Vancouver Killer Whales
Similar to Fort Worth, the NSHL’s Vancouver Killer Whales decided on a team name first and then went out and found a logo that matched it. In this case, they found the original logo of the Daemyung Killer Whales of Asia League Ice Hockey.
The team was relatively new and I knew they’d want some continuity between the two logos. I re-drew the main whale from the original logo, changed up some of the proportions, and simplified it a bit. I dropped the additional whales and the hockey sticks from the original logo but kept the bounding shape. I brought in teal, thinking that this team is kind of analogous to the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, and created a new wordmark. The wordmark features a font that, to me, looks like it was carved in wood, aiming for a Pacific Northwest flair.
The Brampton Capitals always bothered me. The team is named after a now-defunct Ontario Junior Hockey League team, originally called the Nobleton Capitals, then the Etobicoke Capitals. The logo appears in a Behance gallery and I’m not sure that the team’s original owner is the designer, so I felt it might be best to move on to a new logo.
None of Nobleton, Etobicoke, or Brampton are capitals of anything. The red, white, and blue color scheme evokes the United States, not Canada. As such, my original thought was to come up with a new name entirely. However, at the point of this rebrand, the Brampton Capitals name was one of the longest-lived in league history, so I decided not to throw it out.
Looking into what Brampton is known for, I found that it calls itself the Flower City. I began to work on ideas centered around roses, one of which features in the city flag. I decided to keep a shield and stars as a connection to the original logo but play up the city name instead of the team name. Eventually I landed on a Tudor-style rose. For an alternate logo, I merged the rose with a star. The end result is making the Flower City into the Flower Capital.
The original logo of the NSHL’s Portland Huskies was a recoloring of a high school logo, wrapped in a roundel. This seemed ripe for a redesign.
The immediate problem, though, was that just about every variation of a husky has been done. To make matters worse, the Washington Huskies also use purple as their primary color. To avoid comparisons with Washington, I figured I needed to do a head-on view of the husky, even if doing so invited comparisons with the University of Connecticut. To differentiate from UConn, I tried to make a happier husky, with less-angled eyes. I also used off-white instead of white.
The original logo chosen by the NSHL’s Edmonton Bandits might be clip art. Or it might just have been stolen so many times it comes across as clip art in searches at this point. Either way, it was next up on my list.
I kept the general shape of the hat and the bandana for continuity but changed up the shading (which I’m not entirely certain I got right) and added a more realistic-looking face. I added a set of shoulders clad in a grey coat, which transitions into an “Edmonton Bandits” wordmark.
North Dakota Nighthawks
The original logo for the NSHL’s North Dakota Nighthawks was clearly a concept for replacing the current logo of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. I thought it was best to just avoid that whole genre entirely and switched over to depicting a hawk in flight.
That means that the new logo is somewhat generic. There are a lot of bird-themed sports teams represented by their mascot with wings spread (the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans and Coachella Valley Firebirds come immediately to mind). I think the colors help set this one apart. The base is a slate-ish dark grey with some green hints in it accented by gold and just a bit of white.
There are still a few teams I’d like to revisit and, with expansion looming for the league, more incoming teams that I already have ideas for. I think this was a great step towards getting back to unique identities as a standard, though.