Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Entirely Petty Rankings, the summer series where Mason arbitrarily ranks Central Division teams in ridiculous ways and Zack yells at him about it. It's the closest we're ever going to get to ESPN programming. This is will be an ongoing spectacle this summer, so make sure to check back every week to see how we've tried to piss you off this time.
Week One: Best Team Name
Oh yeah, we're going to start off with something super petty. A good name can do you wonders. If your name is, let's say, Mason Masters, people assume you're ruggedly handsome and very talented. On the other hand, a name can give people pretty lackluster expectations. If you're named Bruce Boudreau, for example, people assume you're going to flame out of the playoffs every April. So having a good name as a franchise is important. It not only sets a tone but can influence the future of your team for years to come. The Central has some great ones, but it also has some real stinkers. So here's Mason Masters' ruggedly handsome list of best team names in the Central Division.
#1 St. Louis Blues:
Yeah, I bet you all thought I was going to pick Chicago. I like to play against type. It might seem out of the... blue, but the moniker "Blues" fits perfectly, and not only because this team has only ever known misery during its existence. Being named after a color is almost unfair. You can make it represent anything you want. This franchise name is a nod to the wonderful W.C Handy song "St. Louis Blues" which is a much welcome departure from the stiff traditionalism of the St. Louis Cardinals. Man, just thinking about the Cardinals makes me bored. Anyway, the name "Blues" carries a certain freshness with it. The name is of a bygone era but not stale. The "Note" logo plays beautifully into the name and the fan base, though incredibly jaded, is still singing the team’s praises over fifty years after their inception. Best name hands down. Deal with it.
#2 Colorado Avalanche
Stay with me here, the Av's have a great name. First of all, their old name, the Nordiques, isn't that great. In Quebec, they were literally the "Northerners", which sounds dumb without the french mystique. So there has been improvement. Once in Colorado, the team couldn't rely on nostalgia since the MLB bogarted the NHL’s original name in Denver (The Rockies) and they didn't succumb to the temptation of the totally righteous and not-at-all-instantly-dated Rocky Mountain Xtreme. In real life, Avalanches are scary but also pretty freaking cool. They're strong, fast and can lie in wait for years before ruining your day. Right, St. Louis?
#3 Winnipeg Jets
This was a tough one. They stole this name from the festering corpse of a franchise currently stuck in Arizona, which seems a little shady. On the other hand, that old franchise can go to hell because I can't imagine any other name for a team in Winnipeg other than the Jets. Even though this version of the Jets is technically only 8 years old, the name holds a lot of history. All of the Jets logos through history have been sharp, yet era-specific and who doesn't like planes? Planes are awesome, almost as awesome as homoerotic beach volleyball matches. I'm a sucker for nostalgia but I'm not a slave to it, so the Jets come in at number 3.
#4 Chicago Blackhawks
My boys are finally on the board. A lot of people think that this name was originally drawn from Chief Black Hawk who fought a war in the region against European settlers, but the original name for the team came from owner Frederic McLaughlin's WWI army unit. I think that military history is something the franchise should embrace more as the screws begin to turn on Native American iconography. Black Hawk was an incredible person who should be celebrated much like Crazy Horse is, but the Hawks don't do too much celebrating. They mainly print money off the likeness of a "gentile native", which actually seems like the opposite of celebration. But I'm a white guy dangerously close to the rabbit hole of racial politics, so take all of this with a grain of salt. As for the Blackhawks title? Tradition? Yes. History? Check. Complicated past and future? You bet your sweet Aspercreme. It lands in the middle of the pack.
#5 Minnesota Wild
"The Wild what?" My fiance loves to heckle, "What are you The Wilding??" I do like this name, but mainly because it makes me think of the team’s gorgeous logo, which for my money is one of the best sports logos created in the past 25 years. If the team had a different symbol, this name could be painfully dated to the late 90's. It doesn't really strike fear into my heart when I hear it. I wouldn't fault a non-hockey fan for thinking this was a minor league team, just by name recognition They are a team still trying to build a solid identity and I have a feeling this moniker will get better with time. As for right now, it feels a little hollow, just like the team.
#6 Dallas Stars
This franchise moved from Minnesota and forgot to change its name. Yeah, I know they dropped the North from the name, but that barely keeps it out of Utah Jazz territory. North Stars was such a great name! Simply using "Stars" as the name of your franchise makes it sound made up, like it's the team Keanu Reeves played for in The Replacements. It's a generic yet icky thing, like an infomercial for catheters. The only saving grace for this name is that is can be fandangled into a Texas thing. The Stars do play in the Lone Star State after all and share a city name with the Cowboys, who dagnabbit, also have a star logo. They should have come up with something better but it's been almost 30 years, so now they're stuck wearing the skin of their past selves. Man, that got dark.
#7 Nashville Predators
This name is garbage. First of all, it's been like 15 years since To Catch a Predator came out and I'm still reminded of that show each time I see a yellow sweater. The name is also a mouthful to say. Say it in a sentence. You just bounced off the consonants, didn't you? It came out like "Prededrders". Now try chanting that. The jumbled Hellebuyck chants from round 2 would sound like Shakespearean theater compared to a simple “Let’s Go Predators” chant. When you try to shorten it to Preds the name doesn't get much better. Yes, it gets easier to chant, sure, but it sounds like a disease your dog needs shots for. The logo comes from saber-tooth cat fossils found in Nashville, which is actually pretty awesome. The team (let's be real, the NHL) probably thought that naming the team the Sabertooths or the Saber-Cats would infringe on the established Sabres. But the Predators? Really?? The guy who suggested that shouldn’t be allowed within 500 feet of Bridgestone Arena. Oh, it was Craig Leipold? That makes a lot of sense.
Folks there you have it, my entirely petty rankings of the best Central Division team names. Be on the lookout for Zack's rebuttal soon, where he'll surely put the Blackhawks last just to spite my obvious truths. Do you agree with my rankings? Let us know in the comments below, which I have stupidly decided to turn on. This should be fun.