WCHA Teams Yearn For Originality
by Chris Dilks/Columnist
Early in the hockey season, some teams are still searching to find their own identity. But St. Cloud and North Dakota are two teams that don't need to worry about that. They just borrow theirs from other teams.
When the Fighting Sioux take on the Huskies this weekend in St. Cloud, it will be a fierce battle between two WCHA rivals. But to the untrained eye, it's going to look more like a battle between two teams from the Original Six.
The Native American head logo on the front of North Dakota's jersey has drawn scorn from political activists and the NCAA because they view the logo as insensitive to Native Americans. But how come nobody is offended that the logo looks almost exactly like the Chicago Blackhawks logo? The Sioux have made some minor changes so that it's not exactly the same, but the two are close enough. Maybe people wouldn't have such a problem with the logo is North Dakota hadn't taken their logo from one of the worst franchises in hockey.
North Dakota's opponents for this weekend, St. Cloud, went in a different direction. They decided that if they were going to rip off a logo, why not steal from the best? St. Cloud chose to take the famed logo of the Montreal Canadiens, change the H in the middle to an ST and slap it on their jerseys. Some may find it a bit presumptuous that a team that has yet to win an NCAA tournament game would use the logo of a 23-time Stanley Cup champion, but the Huskies apparently have no problem looking like Les Habitants.
This blatant copy-catting goes deeper than the primary logos though. The shoulders of North Dakota's jerseys features an interlocking N and D, which is one of the school's secondary logos. School rules, however, say that the interlocking ND must be adjacent to another University trademark. Why? Because the University of Notre Dame uses the same interlocking logo, and has done so for much longer than North Dakota, so they own the trademark to it.
The rest of St. Cloud's logos are fine, but then there is the issue of their nickname itself. St. Cloud has gone through nicknames like Kleenex throughout much of their history, and most of them were awful. According to the schools web site, early nicknames included "Normals" (Who are we kidding here? You're from St. Cloud), "Teachers" (Could be scary, but overall pretty wimpy), "Bear Cats" (I'm sorry, but you need to pick one animal and stick with it), "Peds" (I actually think they meant the candy, but misspelled it) and "Flying Clouds" (He was like the easiest bad guy to beat in Super Mario Bros.).
The only problem with the Husky nickname is that when St. Cloud came into the WCHA in 1990, there was already a team in the conference that was nicknamed the Huskies, in Michigan Tech. It's extremely rare for two teams in the same conference to share a common nickname. At least the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Ottawa Rough Riders had the decency to separate their nicknames with a space.
It should be noted that these aren't the only two WCHA schools to suffer from this lack of originality. Minnesota State Mankato has gone through a series of different cow logos over the past few years, before settling on a near carbon copy of the Chicago Bulls logo. They also share a common nickname with their North Central Conference rivals Nebraska-Omaha.
Then again, maybe it's for the best that these teams weren't more original with their logos and nicknames. The WCHA is known for great hockey, but doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to the artistic side of things. I mean, what exactly is a Seawolf? It's tough to be intimidated by something that doesn't even exist. And wouldn't the world have been a better place if Denver had borrowed somebody else's logo instead of using the ugly and confusing jelly donut design on their current uniforms?
North Dakota and St. Cloud should be a hard fought series this weekend for key WCHA points. Both teams will be working hard to make a name for themselves this season, even if they'll be doing it wearing somebody else's logo.