Sports teams have interesting relationships with their logos, oftentimes branding and rebranding, reacting heavily to fan interactions with these new designs and how merchandise sales are affected. This oftentimes leaves teams rebranding every few years, keeping up with design trends, the evolution of sports logos is interesting to look at. With less history in the United States than sports such as baseball, the way that hockey teams have reacted to changes in logos, branding, and more should be explored!
New York Islanders
Founded in 1972 on Long Island, New York, the Islanders use a royal blue, orange and white color scheme in their logo and uniforms. The original logo version of the team reflects these three color choices, with a white hockey stick over the orange silhouette of Long Island. With a few minor changes (adding a stripe to the bottom of the hockey stick to indicate the number of Stanley Cups won by the team) the logo has generally remained the same. In 1995, the team underwent a drastic rebrand, completely ditching their original logo and replacing it with the image of a fisherman holding a hockey stick. The negative reaction to this was so unbelievably strong that the Islanders made moves back to their original logo as quickly as they could, fully phasing out the fisherman by 1997. After this, the logo used navy blue instead of the original blue coloring. While the team’s logo has maintained relatively static, they have shifted their jerseys to more accurately reflect the team’s ever-changing identity and brand as they’ve undergone major changes.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Also referred to as the Bolts, the Tampa Bay Lightning were established in 1992 and use blue, white, and black as their primary colors. Their original logo portrayed a white lightning bolt outlined in black on a gray background. Tampa Bay Lightning was written in blue and outlined in gray. This logo represented the team until a 2007 rebrand, which significantly modernized the brand. Updating both the lightning bolt and font choice of the team. In 2011, the logo was simplified even further, simply portraying a white lightning bolt in a circle on a field of blue. This move has also related to their referencing as the “Bolts” as the logo has become more and more simplified. With three significant logo changes in less than 20 years, their jerseys have changed even further. The Lightning are taking regular steps to simplify their brand, moving away from the solid brand familiarity established by other teams.
Red, navy blue, and white are the key colors of the Capital’s logo and jersey design, which is incredibly appropriate considering they represent the capital of the United States. The original logo and jersey design played heavily on the red, white, and blue theme, their logo and jerseys emblazoned with stars since 1974. In 1995, they drastically changed their logo, colors, and look, opting for black, blue, and bronze. The logo was replaced with an eagle, talon outstretched, in an attempt to improve merchandise sales. From 2002 to 2007, the team introduced a new home logo, featuring the Capitol building in Washington D.C. with crossed hockey sticks and two stars, still featuring the black, bronze, and blue color scheme introduced with the previous logo. In 2007, they changed their logo again, bringing back the red, white, and blue color scheme, featuring an eagle with the dome of the Capitol building in its breast. This season, the Capitals wear red jerseys aimed at appreciating the outdoor roots of the sport.
The 1967 founding of the Penguins introduced the team with a blue, white, yellow, and black color scheme, featuring a scarved penguin against a yellow triangle background, which was built upon and updated to more prominently feature the team’s name in the 1968 version of the team’s logo. The yellow triangle serves as a reference to the Golden Triangle found in the city of Pittsburgh. In 1971, the Penguins removed the team’s name to just feature the skating penguin against a yellow triangle background- which remained untouched until 1992. Between 1992 and 2002, the team used a variation of the penguin and yellow triangle, removing the skating penguin from the mix. However, in 2002, they brought back the skating penguin onto the logo and introduced the team’s current colors of gold, black, yellow, and white. For nearly the entirety of the team’s existence, except for the period between 1992 and 2002, the skating penguin has been a core part of the Penguin’s logo.
Previously the Minnesota North Stars, the Dallas Stars got their current branding after the move to Dallas in 1993. Even after this move, the team kept the same uniform design and general logo that the team had before the move south. The only addition was a version of the logo with the outline of the state of Texas behind it. In 1994, the team added the word “Dallas” to the logo. In 2013, a new logo was introduced that used silver instead of gold for star, and used a green to highlight the logo. The letter D remains in the center of the star, a reference to Dallas’s nickname- the Big D. The team is represented by victory green, silver, black, and white, and remains one of the more untouched NFL logos.
St. Louis Blues
Since St. Louis was awarded a NHL team in 1967, little has changed about the team’s logo design. The team takes its name from the rich history of the blues musical style in the area, and uses an artistic rendering of a blue note as the team’s logo. Significant changes to the team’s logo included adding red details and the team name in 1984, then removing the team name in 1998, and the team’s current representation in 1998, which removed the red outline and replaced it with a deeper blue and sharper feathers in the logo.
San Jose Sharks
With deep Pacific teal, burnt orange, black, and white serving to represent the team, the first logo of the 1991 Sharks portrayed a black shark biting through a hockey stick within a triangle and also displayed the team’s skating shark mascot. Their alternate logo showed a shark fin emerging from water, a logo they retained until 2007. Currently, the logo and the alternate logo remain very similar to their original incantation, simply cleaning up the design, adding orange coloring, and reflecting the advances in design to date.
Nashville’s home to the den of a prehistoric saber-toothed tiger, considered to be one of the last of its kind before extinction, and one of only five discovered in North America. This is where the NHL team unveiled their logo in connection with this great predator in 1997. The first logo version used blue, orange, and silver as the main components, featuring the long front-tooth of the tiger. In 2011, the logo was updated to reflect blue, yellow, and white, keeping the original shape and design of the original logo. Alternate logos of the team have ranged from simply using the team’s initials to a version of showing the bones of the saber-toothed tiger, however, remaining relatively static in comparison to many teams.