When I become sports czar, the first thing I'm going to do is eliminate singular nicknames.
I raise this point because the teams playing in the NBA Finals -- Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat - have really, really, really dumb nicknames.
I'm not even sure what they represent. Is there a lot of thunder in Oklahoma City? Is it hot in Miami?
Now there will be some exceptions to our rule. We wouldn't eliminate longstanding names that are beloved such as (Notre Dame) Fighting Irish and (Alabama) Crimson Tide.
For that same reason we wouldn't think of doing away with (Boston) Red Sox and (Chicago) White Sox. Those name have instinct name recognination and historical value. You say Red Sox, you think Boston, and when you say White Sox, you think Chicago.
Other than those, and maybe a few other college teams, however, singular nicknames have to go (Stanford calls itself the Cardinal. Why can't the school just add an 'S'?)
The NHL has three such teams: the Tampa Bay Lightning (what if they were in the NBA and played Oklahoma City? -- why, it would be thunder and lightning), Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.
Major League Baseball has just the Red Sox and White Sox, the NBA has the Thunder, Orlando Magic (named after the Magic Kingdom) and Utah Jazz (the team never changed its nickname after relocating from New Orleans, where there is plenty of jazz but Salt Lake City?) and the NFL has none.
So, what's in a nickname? We give a quick look at all the NHL teams:
New York Rangers -- Tex Rickard, a boxing promoter for Madison Square Garden, was the Rangers' original owner. They
became known as "Tex's Rangers" and the name stuck.
New York Islanders -- An obvious choice. The Islanders are named for the inhabitants of that singularly unigue place known as Long Island.
New Jersey Devils -- Named after the Jersey Devil, the mythical creature said to inhabit the southern part of the state.
Philadelphia Flyers -- The team was going to be called either the Quakers or Flyers. The latter won out (thankfully) as many felt Quakers' represented losing. Never been a fan of the Broad Street Bullies, but "Philadelphia Flyers" does have a good ring to it .. also reminds me of my old flexible flyer sled.
Pittsburgh Penguins -- The name was chosen in a contest. Alliteration works. Last time we checked, there are no actual
Penguins in the 'Burgh.
Boston Bruins -- Another case where alliteration works. The team was named in a contest. Some folks in Bahston, refer to the team as the "Broons."
Buffalo Sabres -- The name also was chosen in a contest (love the "Dance of Sabres" song .. Sabres on the warpath, ooh, aah, Sabres on the warpath....)
Ottawa Senators -- The team was named in honor of the old Ottawa Senators, who won six Stanley Cups before there even was an NHL. Ottawa also is home to the Canadian parliment (hence, the Senators name)
Toronto Maple Leafs -- Named after the maple leaf on the Canadian flag. As an aside, I think "O Canada" is the world's most beautiful national anthem.
Montreal Canadiens -- Represents the nationality of French Canada. Originally, the team only had French Canadian players, lots of guys named Jacques.
Florida Panthers -- Former owner Wayne Huizenaga wanted to draw attention to the Panther, an endangered native wildcat of Florida.
Washington Capitals -- A rather obvious choice -- the team plays in the nation's capital.
Tampa Bay Lightning -- Tampa Bay is the lightning capital of the world. Never knew that.
Winnipeg Jets -- Winnipeg has a rich aviation history and the team adopted its original name, which it had to do.
Carolina Hurricanes -- North Carolina has frequent hurricanes, so that's what owner Peter Karmanos named the team after it moved from Hartford. Seems rather odd.
St. Louis Blues -- St. Louis is the home of the Blues, so what else could its hockey team be called? (This is one of my favorite nicknames in all of professional sports. When the Blues hit ice, the organist plays "When The Blues Go Marching In", which is one of the best traditions in sports).
Nashville Predators -- Another name that was determined in a contest. It refers to the saber-toothed tiger remains that were discovered during an excavation in the city in 1971.
Detroit Red Wings -- The team is named after the "Winged Wheelers", the club original owner James Norris played for.
Chicago Blackhawks -- Original owner Frederic McLaughlin, a World War I veteran, named his team after the 86th Infantry Division, the "Black Hawk Division". In 1986, the team officially changed its name from Black Hawks to Blackhawks.
Columbus Blue Jackets -- The name was chosen in a contest. According to the team's web site, the name “celebrates patriotism, pride and the rich Civil War history in the state of Ohio and, more specifically, the city of Columbus.”
Vancouver Canucks -- Named after Canadian folk legend Johnny Canuck, a war hero.
Calgary Flames -- The team didn't change the name when it relocated from Atlanta, where the name "Flames" refered to the burning of Atlanta by General Sherman during the Civil War.
Colorado Avalanche -- Colorado has lots of avalanches, right? Since Rockies, the name of Colorado's originaal NHL franchise was taken, the team settled on Avalanche.
Minnesota Wild -- The name was chosen among a field of six finals. Not big on this name, I suppose it represents the wide-open spaces of Minnesota ("North Stars", the name of Minnesota's original NHL team, was so much better).
Edmonton Oilers -- An obvious choice -- Edmonton is the oil capital of Canada. During the team's march to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, the team reminded fans that they were in Oil Country.
Phoenix Coyotes -- Another nickname chosen in a fan contest (Scorpions was the runner-up, good Lord!)
San Jose Sharks -- Also chosen in a fan contest, and it had nothing to do with the movie Jaws, though seven species of sharks live in the Pacific Ocean off the coast in the area around San Jose and San Francisco. Don't know if there are any Land Sharks (yes, that a reference to the old Saturday Night Live skit.)
Los Angeles Kings -- The late Jack Kent Cooke, the first owner of the new Cup champions, adopted the name "Kings". The Los Angeles Monarchs played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League in the 1930s.
Dallas Stars -- When the team moved south from Minnesota, it dropped the "North" and become known as the Stars. After all, it wouldn't make sense to play in Dallas and be called the North Stars. They would have to be the South Stars, and that seems kind of dumb.
Anaheim Ducks -- Last but not least, the only team in professional sports named after a movie. When Anaheim
joined the NHL in 1993, it was were called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim after the Disney movie. After Disney sold
the team in 2005, the team became known as just the Ducks. Donald is still quacking.