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Utica Comets 21

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 2013 November 27, minor rewrite posted 2021 December 26

Utica, New York is named after Utica (that much should be obvious), an ancient city that sat on the coast of what today is Tunisia (that's probably less obvious). I'd say more about the ancient Utica, except that the fact that it's an ancient city that sat on the coast of what today is Tunisia is about all I know about it. I also know that it was near Carthage, but then again, about all I know about Carthage is that it was an ancient city that sat on the coast of what today is Tunisia. I didn't even realize until a few minutes ago when I looked it up that Carthage still exists. I thought it was destroyed. Actually, it was destroyed (twice), but they rebuilt it (twice). Today it's a suburb of Tunis. That's gotta suck for a city that used to be the capital of one of the most powerful countries in the world. Imagine if in 2,000 years someone's playing around with whatever the 41st-century equivalent of Wikipedia and Google Maps is and discovers that, hey, Washington still exists, but now it's just a suburb of Rockville, which is now the capital of a country that has no global significance and only covers present-day Maryland and northern Virginia, because the United States was utterly destroyed by, say, the Chileans back around 2875. That's basically what I just discovered about Carthage. As for Utica, it's gone, gone, gone. It was destroyed around the beginning of the Eight Century and everyone left. Hell, even the Mediterranean Sea left. Today, the ruins of Utica are about 10 kilometers from the coast. They didn't move the ruins, obviously; the sea has retreated that far. I've heard of "nobody knows you when you're down and out", but damn.

It may seem odd to name a city in the United States for an ancient city that was destroyed over a thousand years before, but that's almost par for the course in central New York. In addition to Utica there's Syracuse, Ithaca, Rome, Palmyra, Troy, Athens, Sparta, and countless others. You could write a book on the subject. And if you did, you wouldn't be the first, because a man named William F. Farrell has already written one. As for why so many cities in the area are named this way, there are a handful of competing explanations (and there's probably no explanation that covers every single example), but the basic gist of all of them is that in the wake of the American Revolution, many people in the area wanted to name cities after something that was related to neither the people they had just revolted from nor the people they were taking land from, and the cities of ancient times inspired them. No doubt the ancient democracies were part of their inspiration, but Utica didn't actually spend all that much time as part of a democracy. But, hey, Athens was already taken, and that's the only ancient city we really associate with democracy anyway, right?

With that in mind, I think the hockey team is missing an opportunity going with a name like "Comets". Sure, there's a history of a sort here, since the name hearkens back to the Mohawk Valley Comets of the North American Hockey League. But that's hardly historic in the way that ancient Utica is historic. I'd like to see them try to do something that works off of the other Utica's history. The problem, however, is that I have no idea what would work. "Utica Phoenicians" and "Utica Carthaginians" are pretty unwieldly; "Utica Uticans" is lame (not that it stopped Troy University from calling its teams the Trojans); "Ruins of Utica" is hardly an impressive moniker. But I'm sure there's something out there that would work. And if there is, I'm sure it would be better than "Comets". Not that "Comets" is a bad name, but...well, I just think they could do better, that's all. And technically, this is the second franchise with the name. The team this year is using the same name and logo (with different colors) as last year, but last year's Comets moved to become the Abbottsford Canucks, and last year's Binghamton Devils are this year's Utica Comets. I guess I understand the desire to maintain continuity, but it was a perfect opportunity to switch to a better name.

And that logo they kept? It could use some work, too. It has the same problem that the logo for the Fort Wayne Komets has, which is that whoever designed it apparently has no idea what a comet is made of. In Fort Wayne, they apparently think there's fire in comets; here in Utica, they think there's lightning. Guys, a quick astronomy lesson if I may: Comets are made of ice. Seriously. There's some rock and dust, but the main ingredients of a typical comet are frozen carbon dioxide, frozen methane, frozen ammonia, frozen carbon monoxide, and frozen water. The spectacular tail most people associate with comets? Just water vapor, for the most part. There is no lightning in a comet. There is no fire in a comet.

The inclusion of lightning in this logo strikes me as particularly bad because of the potential for confusion on a different level. After all, there's a team in the NHL called the Lightning, and they are neither the current nor the previous affiliate for the Comets. Previously the team was affiliated with the Canucks (you probably guessed that already), which meant the logo was predominantly blue. Anyone who didn't know who the Comets' affiliate was would almost certainly have guessed Tampa Bay between the blue in the logo and the lightning in the logo. Now that the Comets have switched to the Devils' red and black, that confusion is a bit less likely, but that just gets us back to the fact that comets are made of ice and are totally lacking in electric discharge.

Indeed, when you consider that this "comet" is really just a hockey puck with a lightning bolt trailing behind it, I think it's fair to say that it doesn't qualify as a comet at all. It's not quite as ironic as Fort Wayne's logo, but I expect better of teams. If you're going to name your team after something, spend the five minutes it takes to learn enough about what your team is named after so that when you draw that item, you are in fact drawing that item.

Final Score: 21 points.
Penalties: Irrelevance, 14 pts; Name-Logo, 2 pts; Equip-Logo, 5 pts.
Bonuses: None.

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