In the past few years, there have been hints that the Portland Winterhawks were about to make a logo change. The logo, which has been adjusted a few times, was an Indian Head with feathers and was brought to the team to begin the 1976-77 campaign.
The history was that the team was cash strapped with the move from Edmonton as the Oil Kings and that Brian Shaw was able to get jerseys from the Chicago Blackhawks provided there would be adjustments to the logo so that it was not a replica. Over the years, the face, feathers, and colors have morphed to be different from the Blackhawks. Many have mistakenly thought Portland was the farm team of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks.
The team name is credited to Brian Shaw; the game being played in “Winter” gave Brian his first part. However, the team as Winter didn’t sound right. He looked to see up in the sky with a flying bird of prey which was a Hawk. Spacing the two names together, he came up with Winter Hawks. Several years ago, in having some fun, Portland eliminated the space between the two names and called them just the Winterhawks while retaining the logo.
There has been backlash from some in the Native community on using the Indian Head logo, and there have been subtle attempts to change it. Fans have seen a curly red “W,” a “P” in various uses, and the most recent idea floated was on the “Jersey off the Players Backs,” which normally is a big fundraiser for the Scholarship Fund but was heavily curtailed due to COVID. That jersey features a slimmed-down Hawk and would be the first inkling that change was coming.
The people in charge at the time indicated that the logo of the Hawk’s head was not going away immediately.
That has changed obviously with the new ownership group. There are still disagreements on the sides of the Native issue, Some Natives are not offended by the logo, and there are some sponsors that are Native, including Grande Ronde, who have ponied up some good cash to back the team. However, others find this objectionable and have been lobbying the team for a change.
In the end, it will be the Portland Winterhawks’ biggest change in their franchise history. With 144 players having been drafted to the NHL, with scores of others in professional leagues around the world and countless others who have taken advantage of the education package once they have finished playing for the Portland Winterhawks, there is no doubt that they have been the most successful of any WHL franchise to date. The team also sent a link to explain the “hidden” pieces within both the logo and shoulder patch. That link is here.
The team also announced its partnership with Portland Gear which now eliminates Accent Marketing from selling Hawk-related items. A few years back, Portland sold off its team store to Accent Marketing, retaining a small stake in the promotional gifts to its season ticketholder base. There have been no announcements about whether such an arrangement will be made as much of this is still very fresh. Accent Marketing still has an inventory of the now old logo and products and has been posting on Social Media that they have these items left and that the employees of Accent Marketing have been fired. However, it’s not clear if that is through Accent Marketing or just that the contract with the Portland Winterhawks has been ended.
The WHL has also released its schedule, which will see the Hawks on the road for one game before having their home opener against Seattle Thunderbirds at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. All home games have been announced as being in the VMC this year. As expected, teams within the BC Division and US Division comprised of the Western Conference will compete. The Central Division and Eastern Division will battle under the Eastern Conference banner. This year, there will be no “swings,” which should save some cash for several teams who took a heavy hit with no fans in the stands and other revenue outlets that these teams rely on to keep solvent.
In a very short press release, the Tri-City Americans announced that Head Coach Kelly Buchberger would not be returning to the team. With the latest addition of Don Nachbaur, who had been the coach at one time for the Americans but returned as Associate Coach this past season, having two powerful people behind the bench was not going to end well for one. In Nachbaur, who is in the top group for “Winningest” Coach, it seems that would be a forgone conclusion.
It will be interesting to see if Tri-City will improve on its tough performance last season, where they could not complete all 24 games due to COVID19 issues and a win/loss record that kept them at the bottom this past season in the US Division.