When I was a student at the University of North Dakota, the NCAA passed its resolution banning “hostile and abusive” school nicknames. When it happened, I, like many others, was outraged — not because of the name change, but because of the hypocrisy of the organization. Some schools were allowed to keep their logos, mascots and nicknames, while others were not.
Florida State, who has a white guy dress up like a Seminole and run around on a horse with a flaming spear, could keep its name. North Dakota, which doesn’t have a costumed mascot, could not.
I remained pissed off for quite a while and so did the majority of fans. UND threw a lawsuit at the NCAA and even the North Dakota legislature got involved. In the end, nothing was accomplished. So the school went through a period of nickname transition. For a few years, UND didn’t have one. Frankly, it was pathetic. It was sad to watch my school’s hockey team play on national television and not have an identity. I guess in a way that was its identity, but it was still stupid.
So to help determine a new nickname, UND asked fans to submit ideas and two lists were recently revealed. One was the list of acceptable nominees, the other a list of rejected ones. The former included the ordinary, the creative and the ones that are descriptive of the school. UND has a well-known, high quality aviation program so a lot of names were based on that — Aeros, Aces and Aviators. Others (Blizzard, Arctic Freeze) were based on the climate of the state, which can hit minus-60 in the winter. Some were just fun like Abominable Snowmen, Chameleons, Fighting Flaxseeds and my personal favorite, Drillers, because I have the mind of a 12-year old. (My wife is a UND alum and she liked the Frost Giants, Raptors and Oxen).
The other list was what I thought it would be, odd and obscene. A good chunk involved going the Native American route again like Chiefs, while others went for 2% Terrorists (which sounds like a street gang suburban kids came up with), Channel Cats, Dakota Beet Slicers or my favorite, the Frickin’ Frackers. (The wife liked the Ice Dragons, Emergency Room Werewolves due to her many hours in clinical rotation as well as the Highly Aggressive Turtles). Also, Fighting Sioux, or a variation of that, took up around 135 pages. A bunch of other ones had to do with genitalia, butts or something of that nature. I spare you the specifics, but if you really must know, feel free to click on the full list above.
If you read both lists, you can see clearly that there are some fans that looking forward to a change or at least attempting to, while others are hell-bent on staying the Sioux. I’d love it if the team remained the Sioux, but it’s not going to happen. We’ll all have fun memories when UND was the Fighting Sioux and to me they still are, until the new name is in place, but it won’t be forever. It’s the end of an era and I know it’s hard, but it’s time to move on.
Another team whose fan base will have a hard time moving on is the New York Islanders. A few days ago, the Nassau Coliseum ice was scraped off as well as the logo. The distinctive logo with Long Island front and center had been in place at center ice since 1972, if you don’t count the brief “fisherman” logo that was in place from 1995-97. (Side note, I loved that logo and thought the Long Island one was cluttered and frankly, stupid, but I’m in the minority).
It’s sad to see the Isles leave their longtime home and I sympathize. I watched my local team, the North Stars, bolt to Dallas while the Islanders are moving to Brooklyn. That may not seem like a far move, but Long Island is very different from NYC, so it’s a big change. It’s not as ridiculous as moving a hockey team to Texas, but it’s still different. Isles fans now have the choice of cheering for their favorite squad in its new location (hopefully the name will be retired), which will be tough to do, or become Rangers fans, which would be even worse. It’s going to be hard to get past it. Eventually, wounds will heal and things will move on.
Another thing that is in the process of moving on is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As I write this, two teams have punched their ticket into the conference final and one is Chicago. I thought this would be the year that my hometown Wild would solve the Blackhawks due to Chicago’s frequent struggles this season. As they typically do, the Hawks kicked into gear in the postseason. Minnesota now needs to think what it should do to become a legitimate Cup contender. They need another consistent scorer; Zach Parise is a good one but he needs help.
Unfortunately, no available scorers are unrestricted free agents. The best may be the aging Martin St. Louis, who finished second on a President’s Trophy-winning Rangers team with 21 goals. It’s a possibility, but a risky one as he’s on the latter end of his career and seems to want to stay in Manhattan. Two lesser options are Winnipeg’s Michael Frolik, LA’s Justin Williams or Washington’s Joel Ward. The latter two also have reputations for delivering in the playoffs, which could definitely help the Wild.
The high-flying Blackhawks will take on Anaheim (the wife’s favorite team) who just dispatched with a scrappy Calgary team. This is a dream series for a fan, the two arguably best teams in the NHL doing battle. Both have offensive stars. Chicago has Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa; Anaheim has Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler. Both teams play good defense as well. Chicago has Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, while Anaheim has Sami Vatanen and Cam Fowler. Even their goaltenders are equal. Neither are particularly stellar, unlike the teams out east, but both Corey Crawford (Chicago) and Frederik Andersen (Anaheim) have gotten the job done in the postseason. I have a feeling this is going to go seven games and it’s really a toss-up, but I’m confident one of these teams will be hoisting the Cup in a few weeks.
Washington can’t finish off New York and Tampa is struggling to do the same with Montreal. Even if the Rangers and Canadiens complete their comebacks, neither have been living up to expectations. The only question is if the Cup will go to Chicago for the second time in three years, or back to California for the second straight season. One thing is for certain and that is the West’s dominance is still strong and the Cup won’t be moving on any time soon.