Saturday, 8 June 2013

The New/Old QMJHL Team

If there was ever a junior team in Canada that simply can't find a home or identity, it seems the Rocket are it. Originally founded in 1999 in Montreal and named in honour of Maurice Richard, the team packed its bags in 2003 for Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The team still operated as the Rocket, but they never really established themselves as PEI's team while holding onto their past Montreal connection. However, all that changed on May 27, 2013 when the Charlottetown Islanders made their debut!

Former owner Serge Savard Jr. struggled to put a winning team on the ice, and his bottom line suffered because of that problem. According to Savard, the PEI Rocket currently lose about $300,000 a year. With that figure at the forefront, Savard intended to either move the team or sell the team.

In stepped a group of ten individuals who decided that allowing Savard to move the team to Sorel, Quebec would have negative ramifications throughout Charlottetown, and these ten people would keep the team in Charlottetown, PEI. There was one major change they intended to implement when they took over the team at the start of May: change the name.

Besides the additional funding they were able to secure with the impending name change, there was little tying the island and the team's city to the name "Rocket". A new team identity would be forged as the franchise laid down roots in the PEI capital. They would become the Charlottetown Islander officially on May 27, 2013.

The group, led publicly by Jeff Boyle thus far, includes prominent Charlottetown businessmen Peter MacDonald of MacDonald Automotive Group, Jason Hunter, Ron MacAulay, Ron Murray and Steve Gauthier of Markan Hardwood, and Cyril, Jeff and Craig Chapman of Chapman Brothers Construction. The ownership group is currently at 15 individuals, and a management system is being worked out between the owners.

The article from The News states that "[t]he colours are roughly similar to the gold, black and white of NFL's New Orleans Saints and the logo features the Confederation Bridge. The Islanders name reaches into the 1960s and 70s when the Junior Islanders were barn-burning their way through major junior hockey". Clearly, the name resonates within the Charlottetown community, and it's always good to align one's franchise with a known identity synonymous with winning. The team indicated strongly in its introductory press conference that this would be PEI's team as a whole. The name, however, was a bit of a tongue-twsiter, so it was necessary to change it.
PEI Islanders or Prince Edward Island Islanders was repetitive. Charlottetown Islanders rolls off the tongue better and represents the city where we play, although the word Islanders indicates we are indeed PEI's team. The team will have a presence from one end of the island to the other.
There was only one thing left to see: what would this new franchise look like on the ice? The team wasn't quite prepared for showing off new looks, but promised they would have jerseys ready for the June 8 QMJHL draft.

Well, that's today, and there was some buzz at the QMJHL draft when it was finally time to see what the new gold-black-and-white would look like.
Alexandre Goulet poses in his new uniform
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but does the name "Islanders" force teams into designing horrifically bad uniforms?

That monstrous QMJHL patch forces the "Islanders" diagonal name nearly right off the jersey. That's on every single QMJHL jersey, though, so the Islanders had to know this before cramming their name diagonally from right to left on their uniforms. You would think that someone would have had some Adobe Photoshop experience in their marketing department to show what a nine-letter team name would look like when shifted a few inches downward, no?

And this diagonal name across the uniform? Look, it works for the New York Rangers because of their history. But it didn't work for the Pittsburgh Penguins and it didn't work for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for the Charlottetown Islanders either. How about spending a few dollars and getting a real logo made - y'know, like the one you introduced the team with at the press conference. A simple design would make a world - or at least an island - of difference.

The team went out of its way to state how the word "Islanders" would represent the entire island of Prince Edward Island, yet they come up with this design? Where exactly does the jersey represent the people of Summerside as an example? Outside of the team name strewn across the uniform that only tells me they are from an island, there is nothing to show me that this team is based in PEI. Yet the team is representative of that, and they went out of their way to say that at the press conference. How about proving it?

I was going to let the black uniform slide until you realize that these colors are nothing representative of Prince Edward Island either. The province's flag has a lot of red and green on it, and I could see either of those colors working here. Even the lion - representing the coat of arms of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, for whom the province is named - could have been used in some way. Anne of Green Gables was based in Prince Edward Island. Wouldn't a green uniform have been more representative of the island-province than gold-black-and-white? Seems almost elementary to me.

If you haven't already summed it up, I'm no fan of this look. While the Islanders said all the right things, the reality is that they are still a team without an identity. Maybe today's jerseys were just placeholders while the new uniforms are being designed and manufactured. If that's the case, I may have simply been looking for something that wasn't there. In any case, if the Islanders take to the ice next season in what we saw above, you won't find me as a fan.

What say you, readers: do the Charlottetown Islanders make the grade with their uniforms shown above?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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