When it comes to branding in hockey, you always want to make sure you have something that connects to either the parent team or the community in some way. That’s why, for me, it’s hard to actually figure out why the teams in Bakersfield and Stockton are looking to rename the team as they move up into the AHL. It’s not as if these teams are expansion teams– both have been established in their areas and the name is synonymous with the hockey landscape.
Of course, the “Name the Team” gimmick is something that could connect the fanbase to the team coming in– but it should be something for a team moving in, like San Diego and San Jose’s AHL team coming into play, as the Ontario Reign will stay the same with the regal name staying in effect for the Los Angeles Kings pipeline. Even with San Diego, as the WSHL Junior team announced they’ll be renamed next season to the Sabers; it clears the way for the Gulls to be the nickname for the San Diego AHL team– a name that really sticks to the landscape of hockey in that area for decades across many leagues.
Yet, as it comes to the Condors and Thunder, both are solid names that are ingrained in the community as it is. Granted, those names may work well in the ECHL, but why can’t they work as well in the AHL?? There comes a time where parent teams can muddle into the business of the minor league team they own a little too much, but since they own the team; I suppose they have the right– regardless of how right or wrong it may be.
What will become of these two teams, though?? Bakersfield seems to enjoy the Condors‘ name over other options– which is open-ended. The Fog, Oilers, Barons, and Drillers are up there, too. The good thing with Bakersfield gimmick is that they’re allowing fans to actually make a sketch for the jersey and logo design to coincide with the name change. For Stockton, it seems the Flames don’t want the Thunder name at all and are listening to ideas– but given their track record with minor league affiliates; it very well could be fire related if it’s not called the Flames outright.
Currently, there are only eight teams in the AHL that go under the same moniker of the NHL affiliate/owner, the Flames are one of them. While it’s not the worst idea to have that in terms of branding– you’d almost would think that changing things up for the love of merchandise revenue would be a good idea when it comes to choosing a new name. For the San Jose AHL team, they’ll be forced to change the name because two San Jose Sharks would prove difficult to deal with, I believe. Though, so long as teams don’t outfit their minor league teams in the parent template with a logo slapped onto the jersey– then all the better.
Overall, the idea of Name the Team is good if used for a good cause. What will happen when the final votes are tallied– who’s to say, but in the case of the Condors especially– sometimes keeping the past around is better than changing for change sake.