Attack Of The Name Game (Part Two)

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: July 24, 2008

CALIFORNIA — The National Hockey League has done its part in renaming their relocated franchises. The Calgary Flames being the only hockey team to keep its name and logo unlike the other professional teams.

The first National Hockey League (NHL) team to leave its home was the California Golden Seals in 1976 who were owned by Charles O’ Finley from 1970-76.

Mr. Finley introduced the gold ice surface and white hockey skates. All of Finley’s teams wore California gold and evergreen and white shoes. The Seals had little success in Northern California and became the Cleveland Barons with the very young Gund Brothers as owners.

Yes; the same brothers that now own the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James. The Gund brothers inexperience at owning a professional team made it very difficult for the Barons.

The Cleveland Barons were the first team to be absorbed by other teams in the league. Half of the players went to money-strapped Minnesota North Stars. The other half went to the swamplands of New Jersey in 1980 to create a new team called the Devils.

They became my favorite hockey team in 1981.

Many hockey fans had a big issue with their green and red uniforms. They were called the Christmas team for many years but many Christians did not like the name Devils.

In fact, there was a Catholic Mission across the highway from the Meadowlands that told the Devils’ administration that they would never win the cup with those colors and that name. The Devils changed their colors to black and red and promptly won three Stanley Cups.

Maybe a goalie named Martain Boudeur had something to do with that.

In 1980, the Atlanta Flames moved from the hot winters in the south to the cold weather of Calgary. The Flames in Calgary does not make sense. It is the only hockey team that has retained its original name and logo. Flames in Canada? I don’t think so, especially in the middle of winter.

That same year the Kansas City Scouts moved to Denver to become the state of Colorado’s first hockey team known as the Colorado Rockies. The team officials would change the mascot, colors, and logo.

In 1993, the Dallas Stars moved from Minneapolis-St Paul area, but they kept part of the name North Stars. The Dallas organization just dropped the North part of their name because they currently played deep in the heart of Texas.

This was another team that went from hockey also ran to Stanley Cup Champion. Moving to Dallas was the best event for the organization with forwards Brett Hull and American Mike Modano, winning became habit forming.

Most hockey fans still remember the controversial goal/no goal scored by Hull standing in the crease during the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals as the Stars defeated Dominic “The Dominator” Hasek and Buffalo Sabres.

In 1995, the Colorado Avalanche came from the great white north of Canada. The formerQuebec Nordiques, who just traded for the outstanding all star goaltender named Patrick Roy, won the Stanley Cup a year after leaving Canada.

Many French-Canadians are still angry after supporting this team for so many years in the World Hockey Association. The WHA would merge into the National Hockey League during the 1979-90 season. Winning the Cup twice in the United States was too much for some in the French Canadian Province.

In 1996, another team left the Canadian northlands for the Arizona desert as the Winnipeg Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes. The cash-starved Jets had payroll issues and had to find new investors. Moving to the southwest would save this franchise.

The Great One, number 99, Wayne Gretzky, is currently coaching this team.

In 1997, the last NHL team to move, the Hartford Whalers would become the Carolina Hurricanes. Within a few years, the Hurricanes were also in the Stanley Cup Finals.

This team was in a very bad situation in Connecticut, with the Boston Bruins and both New York teams playing just south and east of Hartford. The team struggled to find NHL fans.

In the former (WHA) World Hockey Association, the Whalers had a fan base but when the leagues merged they lost many fans. Also, they were not a winning team until they moved to Raleigh, North Carolina.

So the NHL has it right changing the organization name when they move football, baseball, and basketball, are still struggling with this issue. Also when the team moves it seems like they play better and enter the Stanley Cup Finals within years.

Only the Coyotes have not accomplished this feat.

The NBA has the most number of teams that have moved. And the least number that have changed their names:

In 1951, the Quad Cities Blackhawks moved to Milwaukee, Wisconson and became the Milwaukee Hawks. Four years later, this team would move again to St. Louis, Moussuri but this would not be the team’s final destination in 1968 they would move south to Atlanta, Georgia keeping the name and logo with each move.

In 1957, the Fort Wayne, Indiana Pistons moved to Detroit, Michigan. That same year, the Rochester Royals moved to Cincinnati, Ohio with the great star, Oscar Robinson, running the backcourt. This team kept moving west to Kansas and Northern California (Sacramento).

In 1960, The Los Angeles Lakers come from Minneapolis Minn, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes”. The team should have left the name in Minneapolis-St Paul. Now we know the Lakers will never change their name nor their colors because of their 17 NBA titles.

Two years later, the Philadelphia Warriors would pack their bags and follow the Lakers west to San Francisco, California playing in the Cow Palace in South San Francisco.

This team had one of the best professional basketball uniforms of all times with the Golden Gate Bridge on the front and the trolley cars on the back with the player’s number. They moved again across the bay to Oakland, California in 1973 changing their name to Golden State, the nickname of California.

In 1975-76, they would win the NBA title in one of the biggest upset of all times beating the bigger and powerful Baltimore Bullets with Elvin Hayes and defensive gem Wes Unseld.

In 1963, the Chicago Zephyrs became the Baltimore Bullets this team would play for many Eastern Conference finals against the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics finally making it to the NBA Championships

After losing the first time to the Golden State Warriors in 1975-76, they would win their first title in 1977-78 over the Seattle SuperSonics.

This team would move to the Washington D.C. suburbs and would change its name to the Washington Wizards; one of the few teams that moved and changed their name, colors, and mascot.

In 1963, the Syracuse Nationals moved south and changed their name to the Philadelphia 76ers. This team would replace the lost Warriors one year earlier. The Sixers would get back one of the former Warriors star, seven foot center, Wilt Chamberlin, winning the championship in 1966-67.

The City of San Diego has lost two basketball teams. In 1971, the San Diego Rockets moved to Houston, Texas. Then in 1984, the San Diego Clippers moved to the City of Angels.

The former Buffalo Braves are now sharing the same building with the Los Angeles Lakers. They are still the second team in the city and maybe on the move again. Only time will tell, my question is, will they keep the logo and name when they move this time?

In 1973 the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals became the San Antonio Spurs and they are the only team from the other league that has won a NBA title. Others ABA teams have come close (both the Nets and Pacers reached the Finals), but San Antonio has won four NBA Titles.

The team also changed the logo and colors of the Chaparrals.

Speaking of the Nets, in 1977, they did not know which side of the Hudson River they wanted to play on. One year after the ABA/NBA merger, the team became the New Jersey Nets.

In 2011, they are scheduled to make the trip back across the Hudson River for the borough of Brookyn. Can we all say Brookyn Nets ? This is one of the few professional teams that the owner is an African American, entertainer, singer and producer Jay Z

In 1979, The Utah Jazz came from New Orleans, Louisiana. We all know that Utah is hardly known for its jazz. The Jazz moniker comes from New Orleans. This is one of the foolish names and mascots ever and they should change because this mascot and name has nothing to do with the state of Utah.

In 2001, the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis, Tennessee keeping the name and the logo. Seriously, are there Grizzly bears in the state of Tennessee?

In 200, the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans kept the name and the logo. The Hornets have come full circle from Grandmama (Larry Johnson), Zo (Alonzo Mourning), and Muggsy Bogues coming close to an Eastern Conference title in the 90′s.

The dream is alive again with the emergence of All-Star guard Chris Paul. The Hornets challenged the Los Angeles Lakers this past year for the Western Division Conference title.

This team returned to New Orleans after the tragic Hurricane Katrina incidence forced then to play in Oklahoma. The Hornets have helped uplift the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana with their winning season in 2008.

This team should reclaim the name Jazz. Maybe Utah and New Orleans can switch names. The NBA should look into this.

In the NFL, there have very few teams change their logos or team name when moving. It seems like owners are very entrenched in keeping their names and mascots.

The Boston Redskins moved to our nation’s capitol in 1937 and many Native Americans have been fighting to get this name changed 70 years later. The Washington organization has vowed never to change their name or mascot.

This writer feels that this is the most offensive name and mascot of all the professional organizations with the lack of respect to our Native American Indian population.

As an African American and Native American Indian this would be very pleasing to see this change. The Washington organization can keep the colors and the logo, just change the name. How hard is this?

The football Cardinals have moved twice; in 1960 moving from Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri then in 1988 moving to Arizona breaking up one of the most unique mascot’s and team name tandem in sports history.

The city of St Louis had both the football and baseball teams carrying the same name Cardinals so in the fall season the radio sports announcers had to distinguish between the football and baseball teams. The question needs to be asked are there Cardinals in Arizona?

The first Dallas Texans of the new AFL moved to Kansas City, Missouri to become the Chiefs in 1962. Kansas City would be the first AFL team to play in the Super Bowl against a (NFL) National Football League team, losing to the Green Bay Packers.

The Oakland Raiders, the second AFL team to play in the Super Bowl, went to Los Angeles with the name and mascot in 1982. They returned to Oakland some 16 years later, but the Raiders had lost their magic.

They lost that PRIDE AND POISE and COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE. The pirate and patch logo on their helmets are still there but other football teams are now just laughing at Oakland Raiders. The SILVER and BLACK no longer scare teams.

They no longer strike fear in the hearts of opponents when they take the field of McAfee Coliseum. The Raiders got soft in Los Angeles and have never been the same. The post Los Angeles Raiders have broken my heart with their shabby play the last eight years

The City of Los Angeles lost two football teams in the same year, 1995. No city has ever done this before. The Raiders and Rams took their names and logos with them.

The Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis and the Los Angeles Raiders moved back to Northern California. Many football fans in the Valley love this because they can see the four of the best games each weekend on television — no blackout rule there.

Owner Al Davis tried to play both cities against each other. Davis wanted each city (Oakland-Los Angeles) to build and pay for a new stadium. Davis took his team south hoping for a new park.

It did not happen, so Davis returned to Northern California to the open arms of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors paying Davis and the Raiders ten years to playing in the Coliseum again.

The Cleveland Browns went to Baltimore to become the Ravens in 1996 because the city of Cleveland took the legal means to retain the name and all of the Browns records.

The city did not want a repeat of the losing of the Cleveland Rams which moved to Los Angeles 50 years earlier taking the logo and mascot with them to warm Southern California.

The new Cleveland Browns organization did not exist for three years (1996-1999). They were then re-established as an expansion team. Browns owner Art Modell wanted a new stadium and when the City of Cleveland said no he moved his team to Baltimore without the logo or the mascot.

In 1982, the Baltimore Colts had rode out of town in an Atlas moving van in the dead of night with a snow storm raging headed for the Mid-West and Indianapolis, Indiana.

Majority owner Robert Irsay, kept the Colts name and navy blue horseshoe logo which they promise to relinquish if they moved.Irsay had been talking to other cities about his football team.

He was also talking to the city officials in Baltimore, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Los Angeles at the same time about a new football stadium for his team.

The City of Baltimore recovered with a new team called the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, but all of the Colts records moved to Indianapolis with the Colts. Every Sunday afternoon they would use the name Indy not ever using the Colts name anywhere on the Baltimore scoreboard.

Many fans in Baltimore still bristle at the sight of the blue horseshoe on a football helmet. Many were still mad at Irsay for leaving Baltimore and not giving the city their logo and mascot. Johnny Unitas, the All-Star Baltimore Colt quarterback never said the word Indianapolis when he was discussing the Colts.

The Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997 changing their name two years later to the Tennessee Titans. Houston received their third team at the turn of the century called the Texans, a name used 40 years earlier.

The Oilers were the first team to play indoors in the Astrodome. In the late 80′s, owner Bud Adams wanted more football seats in the dome. The MLB team Houston Astros protested and won.

In 1987, Adams threaten to move the Oilers to Jacksonville if improvements were not made. The city caved and Adams promised to keep the team there ten more years. When the ten years were over Adams did not wait and jumped to the state of Tennessee which promised him a new football-only stadium.

This year the San Francisco 49ers want the City of San Francisco to build a new stadium at Bayview-Hunters Point.. They have also tendered offers of a new park in the South Bay of Santa Clara County- San Jose.

The residents of Northern California will be voting on the issue this November. If the voters of Santa Clara County accept the terms on the ballot the Niners will be heading south.

The Niners are doing exactly what the Oakland Raiders did 20 years earlier. Playing the two communities against each other, San Francisco and San Jose, to achieve a new football stadium in Northern California.

The Niners organization has made it clear that they would not be paying for this stadium. The residents of Santa Clara County and San Jose would finance this project as the residents of San Francisco would finance the new park at Bayview-Hunters Point.

If San Francisco relocates will they take the name and logo with them to Santa Clara County? The San Jose 49ers or Santa Clara 49ers, either name does not sound pretty and major league sports are going to have to address this issue of teams taking their names and logos with them to different locations

There is a common thread and root cause in most of these franchises moving. The improvement of the team playing conditions; i.e. new football (only) stadiums, larger television contracts, and or a larger fan bases.

Many franchises kept their name and logo. This should change in the future; teams should reflect the population, geography, and historical history.

This article has omitted many other leagues such as the WNBL, WNBA, Negro League Baseball, WFL, the International Basketball League, the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League.

Not because of ignorance, but because of space and time.

My last suggestion is that there should be a two strike rule on cities that have lost two teams in the same sport. They should never receive another team in that sport.

Here are a few examples:

San Diego Basketball

Los Angeles.Football

Houston Football

Cleveland Football

Washington, D.C. Baseball

NOTE: My special thanks goes out to to BASN’s Michael Ingram and Diane Grassi; Mrs. Joan Gray, in New Jersey; and the on-line Encyclopedia, Wikipedia in the production and editing of this article.