With the Seattle Kraken the newest franchise to enter the NHL, it inspired me to think about team logos and the history behind their design. The NHL now has 32 teams with the addition of Seattle. Crazy to think how far along the league has come since the times of the “Original 6”. We’ve seen teams come and go and we’ve seen teams make changes to their logos among the years. After carefully checking them all out with a little background info into the designs, I decided to share my Top 5 current logos. Keep in mind – these are based on history behind the logo – not the popularity of the team or logo.
5 | Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres logo has undergone several changes since the Sabres entered the NHL in the 1970-71 season. The name itself came from a team contest where the winner said they chose “Sabres” because of the sharp blade of a skate. The original logo (much like the current) included a white buffalo, which symbolizes luck, sitting between two crossed-over sabre swords. After having changed to an aggressive buffalo head (1997-2006) and then to the “Buffaslug” logo (2006-2010), the Sabres finally reverted back to the original logo – however much to the dismay of loyal fans, they went with a navy blue base color. Finally, in 2020, the Sabres answered their fans by re-introducing the royal blue classic. This is a great example of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
4 | New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils logo is another prime example of a well-designed logo that doesn’t need to be touched. Though many only see a devilled “N”, if you look closely, it’s actually the N and the J in there – the J featuring the pointed tail and devil horns. Entering in 1974, originally as the Kansas City Scouts, the team had two unsuccessful years in Kansas City before being relocated to Denver where they were named the Colorado Rockies. However, in 1982, the team was sold to a group led by John McMullen and once again relocated – this time to the state of New Jersey where the New Jersey Devils were born. The name, also a contest-winner, was inspired by the story of the Jersey Devil, who according to a legend, used to live in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. Outside of some minor color changes, the logo itself has remained the same since – if it ain’t broke…
3 | Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings entered the league in 1932-33 with the owner, James Norris, choosing a winged wheel as the team’s logo, paying homage to Detroit’s growing reputation as the heart of the automobile industry – the perfect logo for a team playing in the Motor City. This has to be one of the most crisp, clean, detailed, yet quite simple logos in sports and another that has undergone very minimal change since its inception.
2 | Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks were one of the Original 6 teams to break into the NHL in 1926-27. Named after the US Army’s unit Major Frederic McLaughlin (the team’s founder) served in during WWI, the 86th Infantry Division also known as the Black Hawk Division which was named after Black Hawk, the Sauk leader of the eponymous Black Hawk War of 1832. Originally, the logo featured a very basic version of the current logo in a black and white color scheme, designed by the wife of Major Frederic McLaughlin, Irene Castle. Over the years, more color and detail was added until they finally introduced Black Hawk in 1955-56 which would pretty much remain the logo until present day. The detail and history of this logo makes it a no-brainer when it comes to the Top 5.
1 | Toronto Maple Leafs
Alright now before you get all bent out of shape over my No.1 pick here, hear me out. Yes, I am in fact a Leafs die-hard so most may suggest I am being biased with my choice here, which isn’t necessarily wrong. However, the history and detail in the design is something that cannot be ignored because outside of the letters, there is significance to every part of this logo. Don’t believe me? Let me show you.
The logo was inspired by the badge that Conn Smythe and his fellow Canadian soldiers wore during WWI, a badge that represents honor, pride, and courage. The leaf itself has 31 points – alluding to the 1931 opening of Maple Leaf Gardens and features 17 veins which reference to the 1917 establishment of the team. In addition, the 13 veins positioned along the top symbolize their 13 Stanley Cup victories. Their logo’s shape has changed throughout the years, but in 2016-17 – in their centennial year – they returned to a logo inspired by the team’s most successful years between 1942 and 1967 that saw them win 10 Stanley Cups in 25 years. This logo is all about history and tells a story!
So there you have it! These are my Top 5 out of the current 32 teams in the NHL. You could probably hammer down a Top 10, with Edmonton, San Jose, St. Louis, Calgary, and Boston as potential additions – but narrowing down to Top 5 requires more in depth research to support the decision.
What are your Top 5 current NHL team logos?
Let me know by commenting below!