Monday, 23 March 2009

NCAA Logo Watch - Part One

It's hard not to look around these days and notice that everything is emblazoned with someone's logo. Whether it be an advertisement, a billboard, or some other commercial space, logos have seemingly taken over the world. Especially if it is for sale. Despite Paul Lukas using the logo to the left for his blog, Uni Watch concerns itself with that very notion - selling space for corporate prostitution. With that in mind, it's refreshing to see that the logos for the NCAA Frozen Four Championships for both the men and the women only have the NCAA logo on them. Unlike the CHL's Memorial Cup which has become the CHL Mastercard Memorial Cup thanks to some corporate dollars, the NCAA Frozen Four Logo hasn't seen anyone buy it yet. But this isn't how the logos have been bought. Instead, unlike the Memorial Cup which as a few slight changes year in and year out, the NCAA Frozen Four logo changes as to the city it is played in. The purpose of this examination is exactly that: how the Frozen Four logo has changed over the years, what's good about each one, and what needs an overhaul.

We'll start with 1983 where the host team were the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in Grand Forks, North Dakota at the Winter Sports Center. This is the first official logo I could find. Not the greatest by any means, but the Sioux logo and the geopgraphic location of Grand Forks are a nice touch. The Frozen Four Final featured the Harvard Crimson against the heavily-favoured Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin, playing in their third-straight title game, defeated the Crimson by a 6-2 score. Chris Chelios and Pat Flatley starred for Wisconsin, and were named as part of the All-Tournament Team. Badgers' goaltender Marc Behrend was named as Tournament MVP.

I couldn't find a logo for the 1984 Frozen Four in Lake Placid, New York, so we'll keep moving to the 1985 Frozen Four in Detroit, Michigan at the famous Joe Louis Arena. I'm not sure about this, but was the entire decade of the 1980s in black-and-white? How about some colour? Maybe an image or two of hockey? The '85 Frozen Four Final featured the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers against the Providence College Friars. RPI won a thrilling 3-2 Final over the Friars for their first NCAA Championship in 32 years, and second overall. Forward Adam Oates was a star for RPI as he was named to the All-Tournament Team, and Friars' goaltender Chris Terreri was named to the All-Tournament Team. Terreri was also named the Tournament MVP - the first time since 1960 that a player from the losing team earned that honour.

1986 saw the Frozen Four move to Providence, Rhode Island. The boat shows the marine life of Providence - a nice touch. I assume these pictures were taken from some sort of newsprint magazine because there's no way these ads were black-and-white. Anyway, the Harvard Crimson returned to the Frozen Four Final where they met the Michigan State Spartans. MSU won its first NCAA title, and second overall, with a 6-5 win over the Crimson. Defenceman Don McSween starred for Michigan State and was named to the All-Tournament Team, while forward Mike Donnelly was named to the All-Tournament Team and took home the MVP honour as well.

The 1987 Frozen Four took place in Detroit, Michigan again. At least the Detroit logo designers included a puck this time around. This logo still leaves a lot to be desired. The Fighting Sioux from North Dakota met up with the defending champions in Michigan State in the '87 Final. Led by a number of future NHL stars, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux defeated the MSU Spartans by a 5-3 score for their fifth NCAA championship. Spartans' defenceman Don McSween was named to the All-Tournament Team for the second straight year. Chris Luongo joined him from MSU's blueline. Minnesota's Corey Millen earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team while North Dakota's stars rounded out the rest of the team - goaltender Ed Belfour, forward Bob Joyce, and forward Tony Hrkac were all soon to join the NHL ranks.

The 1988 Frozen Four returned to Lake Placid, New York at the 1980 Olympic Arena. For the first time, a hockey player makes an appearance in one of these logos. The evolution is beginning, methinks. The Lake Superior State University Lakers made their first appearance in a Frozen Four, and advanced to the Final where they met the St. Lawrence University Saints. No offence, but those teams names aren't the most creative either. Anyway, the Lakers won the game 4-3 in overtime to secure their first NCAA title. Honestly, Maine's Dave Capuano is the only player with any sort of NHL recognition from the All-Tournament Team, and his 104 NHL games aren't anything to write home about. Even Lakers' goaltender Bruce Hoffort, the Tournament MVP, only played in nine NHL games in his career.

1989's Frozen Four logo completely ruins the theory of evolution. Flashy? No. Hip? No. Makes me want to attend? No. Thankfully, the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota had some good hockey news to report to make up for the boring logo. The Harvard Crimson, tired of being the bridesmaid, went out and defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers by a 4-3 overtime score. The Crimson, having qualified for 11 Frozen Fours and three finals, had finally earned their coveted title. Harvard forward Ted Donato went on to a decent NHL career after being named to the All-Tournament Team and MVP, while Harvard goaltender and All-Tournament Team member Allain Roy is now a player agent with CMG Sports and did win a silver medal with the 1994 Canadian Olympic Team.

As a special note, 1989 was the last year to feature a "consolation final" between the two losing teams in the semi-finals. The Michigan State Spartans won the last consolation final by a 4-3 score over the Maine Black Bears, capturing third place. From this point forward, teams that lost in the semi-finals would only be recognized as semi-finalists. The 1990 Frozen Four would be the first time since 1948 where no third-place game was played.

The 1990 Frozen Four was back in the cozy confines of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. What a terrible logo. It seems like I saw it somewhere else. Can't really place where, mind you. Note to all aspiring designers out there: if you are going to change the logo, putting it on a slant and changing the date does not constitute change! In any case, the Wisconsin Badgers won their fifth NCAA title by downing the Colgate University Raiders by a 7-3 trouncing. Colgate was appearing in their first Frozen Four in school history, so coming away second-place isn't that bad. Wisconsin defenceman Mark Osiecki had a 94-game NHL career after making the All-Tournament Team. Badgers' forward Chris Tancill was named to the All-Tournament Team and the Tournament MVP, but it only led to 134 games at the NHL level.

1991's Frozen Four logo for the event in St. Paul, Minnesota makes me think that someone learned something from the previous decade. The state is represented, the hockey stick makes it clear as to what sport is being played, and the "Fire On Ice" catchphrase adds a little intrigue. I would be interested in seeing this event. In a rather high-scoring affair, the Northern Michigan University Wildcats defeated the Boston University Terriers by an 8-7 score in overtime! NMU captain Brad Werenka enjoyed the longest NHL career from the winning team after being named as one of the All-Tournament Team members. But the Boston University Terriers produced a number of NHL stars: Tony Amonte, Keith Tkachuk, Shawn McEachern, and Scott Lachance. Scott Beattie, named Tournament MVP, barely registered as a blip on the NHL radar, playing in only 11 AHL games while spending considerable time in European leagues.

The 1992 Frozen Four was moved to Albany, New York at the Knickerbocker Arena, becoming the first NCAA Tournament to use neutral sites for the regional and final games. Hey, look at that - a hockey player, a puck, and a net! Again, we might have some positive evolution of the logo if this sort of trend continues. Speaking about trends, the Lake Superior State University Lakers won their second NCAA title in as many tries, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers by a 5-3 score. The only player who went on to any sort of NHL success was All-Tournament Team member Brian Rolston. For the life of me, I can't find who was the Tournament MVP this year. If you know, let me know!

The 1993 Frozen Four moved to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Honestly, this is the best Frozen Four logo we've seen thus far. There's no mistake as to what event you're going to see with this logo. The University of Maine Black Bears squared off against the defending champion Lake Superior State University Lakers. Led by Paul Kariya, the Black Bears became the first Hockey East team to win an NCAA Championship since the split in 1984 from the ECAC, and the first NCAA men's hockey team to win 40 games in a season. The Bears lost one game during the entire season! The Bears downed the Lakers by a 5-4 score. Kariya was named to the All-Tournament Team along with teammates Garth Snow and Jim Montgomery. Montgomery won the Tournament MVP honours as well, but went undrafted that year. LSSU's Brian Rolston was an All-Tournament Team member for the second straight year.

The 1994 Frozen Four returned back to St. Paul, Minnesota once again. Again, the designers in Minneapolis/St. Paul have continued their upward trend in designing a solid logo. This logo has a very classic feel to it. I have to say that I like it. The Lake Superior State University Lakers made their third-straight trip to the Final where they would face the Boston University Terriers. There was no denying the Lakers as they blew the doors off the St. Paul Civic Center with a 9-1 thrashing of the Terriers. LSSU's Clayton Beddoes and Blaine "The Lach Net Monster" Lacher went off to join the Boston Bruins after being named as part of the All-Tournament Team. Sean Tallaire, the Tournament MVP, played six games in the AHL, a pile of games in the IHL, and is currently serving for the Kassel Huskies of the German Elite League.

The 1995 Frozen Four logo has no information as to where the games were played, but I do know that it took place in Providence, Rhode Island. This is a definite step backwards for the logo. Milwaukee and St. Paul did a great job in working hockey into the logo overall, but the '95 logo gives me no reason to want to go to this event. The Boston University Terriers squared off against the University of Maine Black Bears in an all-Hockey East Final, the first time this had happened in NCAA history. The Terriers won the game 6-2 to capture their first title since 1978, and fourth NCAA Championship overall. The All-Tournament Team had a pretty unspectacular career in the NHL. However, Shawn Bates has had a solid career with the Bruins and Islanders. Tournament MVP Chris O'Sullivan from BU spent some time with a few clubs, but never could crack an NHL lineup.

The 1996 Frozen Four took place in Cincinnati, Ohio at Riverfront Coliseum, but this logo feels more like a New Year's Eve party invitation. I'm not sure how hockey relates to anything on the Frozen Four logo, but I assume the cityscape holds it together? Yeah, I'm stretching. As for the action, the University of Michigan Wolverines were pitted against the Colorado College Tigers. The Wolverines had not won an NCAA men's hockey title since 1964 while the Tigers had not won or appeared in a Frozen Four since 1957. Michigan needed overtime, but they won their eighth NCAA title with a 3-2 victory. There were a few future stars in this tournament as Martin St. Louis dressed for the University of Vermont Catamounts and was named to the All-Tournament Team. The Wolverines had Marty Turco, named to the All-Tournament Team, tending net for them, and forward Brendan Morrison was honoured with All-Tournament Team and Tournament MVP accolades.

1997 saw the Frozen Four head back to Milwaukee into the Bradley Center. The '97 tournament marked the 50th anniversary of the first Frozen Four, so you'd think they would come up with something spectacular, right? Well, not bad. It's very classy, and definitely states that it is the 50th year, but doesn't really tell you what the "50" stands for. Overall, decent marks for this one. The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux tangled with the Boston University Terriers in the Frozen Four Final, and the Sioux earned their sixth NCAA Championship with a 6-4 victory. A couple of Boston University players went on to bigger and better things. Forward Chris Drury has been a star in the NHL for some time, and defenceman Tom Poti has been patroling NHL bluelines for the better part of a decade. Both men were named to the All-Tournament Team. Tournament MVP and former Sioux Matt Henderson, however, only played six games in the NHL, and has found a home over in the German Elite League with the Iserlohn Roosters.

The 1998 Frozen Four took place in Boston, Massachusetts in the Fleetcenter. Honestly, this might be the best logo thus far. I love the patriotic look of the hockey player behind the Patriot. If this were in colour, I would award it top marks right now. This is a perfect example of how a logo should look: simple, classy, and it is everything Boston is about. The University of Michigan Wolverines faced a tough challenge as the hometown Boston College Screaming Eagles drew the other berth in the Frozen Four Final. Despite the hostility, goaltender Marty Turco held the fort as the Wolverines won 3-2 in overtime. Michigan won their record ninth NCAA Championship, and second in three years. Turco secured his second All-Tournament Team selection, and won the Tournament MVP for his efforts. Other All-Tournament Team selections include Boston College's Mike Mottau and Marty Reasoner, and HBIC's Hall-of-Fame-Name candidate and Michigan defenceman Bubba Berenzweig.

The 1999 Frozen Four had a totally different feeling as it moved from the northern climates to Anaheim, California and the Arrowhead Pond.

Now, I want to clear something up here. The 1999 edition of the tournament was the first official tournament to be called the "Frozen Four". The NCAA went back and retroactively renamed all previous tournaments as "Frozen Four" as well. I don't know about you, but I feel kind of ripped off. "Frozen Four" is such a cool take on the "Final Four" moniker assigned to the NCAA basketball teams, but now that name seems so petty. Also, if you take a close look at the logo for 1999, the state outline in the background is that of Alaska, not California. Why is it Alaska? The University of Anchorage-Alaska was the host school. Is this the Bizarro-World? How does Alaska get the host rights for a tournament held in California?

Ok, the action came down to the University of Maine Black Bears and the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. Hockey East was bringing home an NCAA title one way or another. At the end of the game, including overtime, the Maine Black Bears had defeated the New Hampshire Wildcats by a 3-2 score. Maine goaltender Alfie Michaud was named to the All-Tournament Team and was named the Tournament MVP, but his success only lead to two appearances in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks. He's now playing with the Fischtown Penguins in the second-tier of the German Elite League. Other notable players on the All-Tournament Team include New Hampshire's Jason Krog and Maine's Niko Dimitrakos.

The 2000 Frozen Four went back to Providence, Rhode Island. I'm not a huge fan of this logo. The hockey player feels like he came from Blades of Steel. There's nothing regional or anything to make it feel like Providence. Providence simply misses the mark once again with this logo. The action on the ice was a better than the logo, however. The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux met up with the Boston College Screaming Eagles in the final, and the Sioux secured their seventh NCAA title with a 4-2 victory. BC's Mike Mottau was named to his second All-Tournament Team. North Dakota defenceman Mike Commodore went on to a solid NHL career after being named as an All-Tournament Team selection. A couple of former Manitoba Moose also were named to the All-Tournament team as North Dakota goaltender Karl Goehring and forward Lee Goren made the cut. Goren, in fact, was named as the Tournament MVP for the Fighting Sioux.

Ok, I'm going to end Part One there as there are a number of changes starting in 2001. We'll look at those tomorrow. As you can see, the previous millenium had more misses than hits when it came to that NCAA Frozen Four logo. Tune in tomorrow, and we'll break down 2001 until 2012.

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!


Tony said...

The logos in the nineties are very indicative of the era, especially the 1994 one. Very Phoenix-Coyote.

One thing I think is interesting to point out is the 1992 logo. Thats an overused Wayne Gretzky photo. Interesting that he never played college hockey but it ended up on a logo.

Eric said...

I don't like any logo in the 90's that uses a hockey player that is not wearing full-facial protection. You'd think the designer would be required to actually watch a college hockey game.

Teebz said...

Good call on that Gretzky image, Tony.

Eric - I guess generic clip-art hockey players weren't mandated to include facial protection? LOL