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Springfield Thunderbirds 2

Notice: All logos on this page are included within the parameters of 17 U.S.C. § 107, which states that the reproduction of a copyrighted work for purposes of criticism and/or comment is not an infringement of copyright. No challenge to the copyrights of these logos is intended by their inclusion here.
Posted 2017 January 29

When I saw that the Springfield Falcons were relocating to Tucson, I thought it was incredibly wrong on a couple of levels. First, as I mentioned on my review for the Tucson Roadrunners, Tucson's history with hockey teams is far from illustrious. Second, Springfield, Massachusetts has been an almost constant presence in the AHL for as long as there has been an AHL. The first team in Springfield debuted back in 1926, the same year that three of the NHL's so-called "Original Six" teams (Detroit, Chicago, and New York) made their debut. This was actually before the AHL itself existed; the Springfield Indians were a charter member of the Canadian-American Hockey League, one of the two leagues that merged in the 1930s to form the American Hockey League. Since then there have only been three brief interruptions in Springfield's run of having a team in either the CAHL or the AHL. The first came during the Great Depression and lasted two seasons and change. The second came during World War II, when the arena where the team played was taken over by the government for use as a quartermaster's depot. The third came in the 1950s, when the team spent a few seasons in Syracuse, New York. Aside from that, there's never been an AHL without a team in Springfield. So I was happy to see a new team go into the city as soon as the Falcons left.

I also think the name they chose was rather clever. As noted above, the original team in Springfield was the Springfield Indians. And indeed that was the name of Springfield's hockey team for most of its existence. The first franchise used it from 1926 (when it was founded) to 1932 (when it folded), and the second franchise used it from 1935 to 1951, again from 1954 to 1967, and a third time from 1974 to 1994.* Then, when the second Indians franchise moved in the summer of 1994, the new team that started that fall named itself the Springfield Falcons. So if you think about it, the Thunderbirds name makes reference both to the Indians name (since the Thunderbird comes from Native American mythology) and the Falcons (since the Thunderbird is, you know, a bird). The team acknowledges that the name is a callback to both of these names, and also says something about it paying respect to the Air Force. I personally think that last bit's a load of B.S. they threw in in hopes of selling a few extra tickets, but I buy the callback part. And incidentally, if you're thinking "Isn't the Thunderbird associated with the Pacific Northwest nations?", it's actually a concept found in the mythologies of nations all over the continent.

That being said, I do have a problem with the logo. Simply put, I don't think that bird looks like a Thunderbird. Now, I know what you're probably thinking. How can I know what a mythological creature looks like? Well, in this case I can go by traditional depictions of the Thunderbird. Here, try an experiment: Do a Google image search on "Thunderbird". Now change it to "Thunderbird -Ford" to get rid of all the cars. Oh, and add "-Mozilla" to remove the pictures of the mail client's logo. Oh, I see. There's still planes and motorcycles and roller coasters and rockets and frisbees and bass guitars and all kinds of stuff. Okay, also add "-Bass -Coaster -Plane -Frisbee"— you know what? Forget that. Just do a Google image search on "Thunderbird Indian Design". There you'll see lots of depictions of the Thunderbird. And although there's quite a lot of variety, there are a few things that always hold true. First, they all depict the entire bird, not just the head. But more importantly, the head shape never looks anything like what is being drawn here. I assume the bird in the logo is intended to look like some kind of bird of prey. And I will concede that most depictions of the Thunderbird look like they're trying to depict some kind of bird of prey as well. But somehow they don't ever look quite like this guy. I don't know if it's something specific (maybe that this guy looks like a falcon while the traditional depictions look more like an eagle, or something like that) or if it's just a general thing, but the traditional depictions don't look like the bird in this logo, and it doesn't work for me. To be honest, the blue and white makes me think of blue jays, although it's obviously not supposed to be a blue jay or any other kind of songbird.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that it's a realistic depiction of a bird in the first place. The traditional depictions are always highly stylized. Just moving away from the stylization means it no longer looks like a Thunderbird. My wife, for what it's worth, agrees with me. In fact, she said the same thing before hearing me say it. I showed her the logo (with the team name covered up), and asked her if she could identify the bird. She said it looks like a kite. I then told her it was the logo for a new team called the Thunderbirds, and asked if she thought it looked like a Thunderbird. She shrugged as if to say "How the hell should I know what a Thunderbird looks like?" So I asked her if she thought it was a good logo for a team called the Thunderbirds. She said it looked wrong. It was too realistic.

Hopefully they'll fix this in the not-too-distant future. But let's not harp too much on that. It's a really good name, and more importantly, Springfield, Massachusetts has hockey. That's the main thing.

*For those who are wondering, 1951 to 1954 was when the franchise went to Syracuse; it was known as the Syracuse Warriors for those seasons. From 1967 to 1974 the team was affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings and called the Springfield Kings.

Final Score: 2 points.
Penalties: Name-Logo, 2 pts.
Bonuses: None.


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