(This article was originally published on Sep. 16, 2020.)
A lot of sports teams around the world have used, and still do use, monikers that represent animals. Most notably in the National Hockey League, there are the Bruins, Penguins, Panthers, Ducks, Sharks, Wild, Coyotes, Predators, and soon to be Kraken.
The BC Hockey League has a lot of unique names for its 18 teams. Some names are inspired by previous teams in the early days of the league, while others come from geographical objects and wildlife, and some come from cultural backgrounds.
However, what if none of these team names existed and each franchise was named completely based on an animal the area around the city is known for? In this article, I’ll go through each team and come up with alternative nicknames it could use based on what animal their city is known for.
Alberni Valley Bulldogs: The Bulldogs’ name came from the expansion team that played in Burnaby for four seasons from 1998-2002. Alberni Valley itself is known for blacktail deer, Roosevelt elk, black bears, plus wolves, and cougars. Out of those, the Alberni Valley Cougars or Alberni Valley Wolves would make for some awesome looking logos and jerseys.
Chilliwack Chiefs: Chilliwack has had the Chiefs name for 30 years. In 2017, Chief David Jimmie of the Squiala First Nation, which is based in Chilliwack, expressed no issue with the team’s name and current logo, saying the hockey team represents both with pride. If the Chiefs were to change their name, they might go with any of the Screech Owls, Sockeyes, Hawks, Blue Herons, or Sturgeons, based on some of the wildlife in the eastern Fraser Valley.
Coquitlam Express: Coquitlam is a suburb of Vancouver. The city’s wildlife is not like say Chilliwack’s or even Prince George’s. Although, if Coquitlam was to change to an animal name, it could use Bears (or Bruins), Coyotes, or Cougars.
Cowichan Valley Capitals: The Capitals play their home games in the city of Duncan. A lot of the same animals call Duncan and the Cowichan Valley home just like Port Alberni and the Alberni Valley. They could use the nickname Hawks, Ravens, or even Steelheads.
Langley Rivermen: Langley has had a few different names over the years, from Hornets to Thunder to Lords, and now Rivermen. The Township of Langley is one of the original cities in British Columbia. Other than Rivermen, which is a perfect name given the cities history, Langley could potentially go with Falcons or Cranes.
Nanaimo Clippers: Nanaimo has a rich history in the BCHL and used the Clippers name since the early 1970s. If the franchise’s name was based on animals in the city’s region, the team could have been called the Salamanders, Pelicans, Ducks, or Woodchucks.
Powell River Kings: Powell River’s BCHL team was called the Paper Kings before dropping “Paper” in 1998. In terms of animals, they could go to the name of Kingfishers to stay along the lines of the Kings moniker, or something outside the box like Cormorants. The Powell River Bullfrogs has a certain ring to it too.
Surrey Eagles: Surrey’s team is already named after an animal native to the geographic area. If the Eagles were to change, they could switch to Orcas or Hawks or even Gulls, given their proximity to the ocean.
Victoria Grizzlies: Victoria and all of the other old Island Division teams have pretty much the same wildlife in their geographic area. However, they could keep the Grizzlies name or go with Orcas or Blue Whales. Victoria also might go with just Bears as a node to the Bear Mountain neighbourhood where the team plays.
Cranbrook Bucks: Cranbrook is the BCHL’s newest team and I’m sure they had a lot of discussion about the name. That said, Bucks is a perfect name given the number of elk and deer in the region. Other animal team names that would fit in Cranbrook include the Moose or Rams.
Merritt Centennials: Merritt’s team nickname comes from when the White Rock Centennials moved to the Nicola Valley during the 1973-74 season. They did change the name to Warriors in 1985 but then went back to Centennials two years later. The Centennials name doesn’t fit Merritt at all. Given the region’s history with cattle and the annual Rodeo on Labour Day weekend, Buckaroos is a name that does fit. Another possible name might be the Bulls, again aligning with Merritt’s cattle industry and the recent release of their alternate logo.
Penticton Vees: Penticton has a rich history with names but nothing from what the city is known for or associated with other than Vees, which represents three types of local peaches. There is the folklore of the mysterious Loch Ness Monster-like creature in Lake Okanagan called the Ogopogo. To tie into that, they could adopt a more out of the box name like Monsters.
Prince George Spruce Kings: With a nod to the lumber industry, Prince George, like Langley and Coquitlam, has a name that depicts what the city is known for. If they were to change to an animal name, PG might use Caribou or Moose.
Salmon Arm Silverbacks: In Salmon Arm, I’m pretty sure there are no Silverback Gorillas running around the Shuswap. Although the imagery for the Silverbacks is cool, if they wanted to change to something a bit more natural, they could use Golden Eagles, Coyotes, or even Cougars.
Trail Smoke Eaters: The Smoke Eaters have the most unique name in the BCHL but if they were to change to an animal nickname it could be Grizzlies or Beavers. That said, the team in Trail should always be known as the Smoke Eaters.
Vernon Vipers: Vernon’s name fits quite well but if the team wanted to move on from the Vipers, there are plenty of slithery options. The Okanagan region is definitely known for having rattlesnakes. They could easily change the name to Diamondbacks or even just Rattlesnakes.
West Kelowna Warriors: West Kelowna has the name Warriors but in my opinion, it just doesn’t seem to fit well with the city. A name like Bobcats, Cougars, or Coyotes fits the team better.
Wenatchee Wild: Wenatchee already has an animal-based name and logo. They could just change the name to Wolves to coincide with the logo. They could also go with Honey Badgers, Pumas, Mountain Lions, or Cougars as well.
Most of these names will probably never happen given the teams in the BCHL have built a strong rapport with their respective communities. If the changes were to happen it would be interesting to see what kind of logos each team would come up with.