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Posted 2004 June 27
Updated 2017 November 18
Before I say anything about this team, let me start by talking about my local minor league baseball team. (Trust me. I have a relevant point to make here).
I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Raleigh is very close to another city called Durham, and the two are often spoken of in tandem -- for example, the TV market is the Raleigh-Durham market, not simply the Raleigh market. The baseball team "in town" is not actually in Raleigh, but in Durham. The team simply calls itself the Durham Bulls instead of the Raleigh-Durham Bulls. Furthermore, there is a team in nearby Zebulon (which is about the same distance from Raleigh in the opposite direction), which calls itself the Carolina Mudcats.
Now, if you were stupid enough to think like a marketing schmuck, you would know right off the bat that nobody from Raleigh goes to see the Durham Bulls because of their awful, exclusionary name. No, the people from Raleigh like to feel included, so they go to the team that says it is Carolina's team, not simply Durham's team. Right? Wrong. In fact, the Bulls draw more fans from Raleigh than the Mudcats do.
I mention this to underscore the fact that whoever came up with the awful mouthful of "Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins" didn't need to do this. Your Scranton fan base will not abandon you if you simply call yourselves the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. That way, you won't have a name where it takes longer to say just the location of the team than it takes to say the entire name of some teams (the Durham Bulls come to mind as an example). You also wouldn't have the most confusing name in North American sports. Is it three different cities — Wilkes, Barre, and Scranton? Or is it Wilkes and Barre/Scranton? Wilkes-Barre and Scranton? And how do you pronounce "Barre" anyway? Is it pronounced like "bar" or like "berry" or some other way?* Okay, so that last question wouldn't be answered by calling yourself the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. Maybe you should just call yourself the Pennsylvania Penguins and be done with it. I generally don't recommend naming yourself after the entire state you're in, but this time I'm prepared to make an exception.
But I should go easy on the team for its location name, even if it is the only one in the history of hockey to require two different punctuation marks.** Why should I go easy on them? Because they clearly have bigger problems.
The logo, for example.
Think about all the penguins you know of from pop culture. There's the villain from Batman. There's Opus, from Bloom County and a few other Berke Breathed comics. There's the Linux logo. Now, what do all of these penguins have in common? None of them are very intimidating, that's what. Okay, maybe the Batman villain is a little more threatening in the comic books (I've never read comic books, so I wouldn't know), but the versions I've seen of him haven't been very threatening). And if you really want a non-threatening penguin, just look at Pittsburgh's logo.
So the people of Wilkes-Barre(/Scranton) really had only one choice, which was to make a penguin that didn't look threatening. The problem is, they didn't realize that. So they took a normal penguin, pumped it up so full of steroids that Barry Bonds looks clean in comparison, and then liposuctioned its legs to the point that his arms are bigger than his legs (even foreshortening doesn't explain the disparity in size here). Remember "Weebles", which wobbled but didn't fall down? This guy is the exact opposite. Then, for good measure, they gave him red eyes, white eyebrows (since when do penguins have eyebrows of any color?), and big, mean-looking red and black gloves. As a result, they got a penguin which looks intimidating in every detail except for one, which is that he doesn't actually look intimidating at all.
Of course, they then looked at this penguin and realized something was wrong. What was wrong, of course, was that the penguin looked silly, but they didn't quite figure that part out. When they first designed the logo in 2004, they they decided to frame him with a red circle and a background made out of a gold circle with parallel lines running across it. I'm not sure what this was intended to look like, but to me it looks like a from-above view of a barbecue grill. I could be wrong, but I don't think that's the effect they were after.
After all these years, it apparently finally occurred to them that it looks like they're barbecuing their logo, so they replaced the circle with the triangle behind their parent team's logo. It's an improvement, but they still haven't addressed the main issue, which is that the penguin looks ridiculous.
I know a lot of people will think I'm nuts for saying this, but I think the logo the Pittsburgh Penguins used in the 90s was better than the logo they used before and after. You probably disagree; most hockey fans do (and even I freely admit this is more a comment on the original/current logo than the 90s logo). But will you at least agree with me that it's better than the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins logo? If the WBS Pens want to have a distinct look from their parent team (and I think they should), then they ought to go with this instead of Jimmy the Juicing Demon Penguin.
NOTE: To penalize the two-city name, I gave the team the "Region" penalty.
Final Score: 65 points.
Penalties: Region, 3 pts; Cartoon, 17 pts; Anthropomorphization, 10 pts; Equip-Logo (quadruply-egregious), 25 pts; Offspring, 5 pts; Yucky-Logo, 5 pts.
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