Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Kansas City Penguins?

During the warm-up skate at the Blues-Flames game, I engaged in some interesting banter with some of my friends who regularly watch “the boys” from up close. We were trying to decide if the Penguins should remain the Penguins if they indeed complete a franchise re-location to western Missouri. Mario Lemieux, and the Pens ownership group, declared an impasse with the powers that be in Pittsburgh on Monday over the lack of a new arena deal. The Penguins lease at Mellon Arena is up at the end of June. And, all indications are that shortly they will announce a move to Kansas City if the Pennsylvania power-brokers don’t step up in a significant way.

For those who haven’t been following this drama, Kansas City is building a new state-of-the-art arena…Sprint Center…that has already sold out all of its luxury boxes for major events, including hockey. This dramatic display of community and corporate support for the NHL can be compared to the St. Louis effort of the 90’s to lure the NFL back to town. The grass-roots civic organization in KC that has been working on getting an NHL team there…NHL21…has pretty much guaranteed any ownership group that chooses to operate in their new digs a windfall for the foreseeable future. The building will be operated by Anschutz Entertainment Group, an investor in the arena. The company, led by Philip Anschutz, also owns the Los Angeles Kings, so there is a link to the inner circle of the NHL.

Paul McGannon…who I’ve become friends with through doing the p-a for Blues pre-season games staged at Kemper Arena in recent years…leads NHL21 (stands for the goal of getting KC hockey in the 21st century) and has some one hundred Kansas City business leaders involved. They have waged a concerted and energetic campaign to lure an NHL team to town for a number of years. With Lemieux and company struggling to make it in western Pennsylvania, or at least not being in a position to overlook such a pot at the end of the rainbow, we might expect a new look to hockey in the Show-Me State soon.

If the Pens leave the Steel City, the debate over whether the nickname goes with them will rage as in the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens situation. If the NHL intends for Pittsburgh to be one of its markets again soon, Commissioner Gary Bettman may try to persuade the team owners to abandon the Penguins name for a re-start in Pittsburgh when, and if, they are able to situate another team there in the future. Given that possibility, what would you name the new team in KC?

The long-ago team in Kansas City was known as the Scouts. They left for Denver after the ’75-’76 season to become the Colorado Rockies. That didn’t work out, and they headed for New Jersey to become the current Devils. Going back to the name Scouts might have some appeal. But I would think a fresh start with a new nickname would be more likely. The current minor-league team in KC is known as the Blades. I would think that’s out too. You wouldn’t want the small-time implication on the new club.

So, let’s come up with a new name for this bunch of pro skaters. Here are my suggestions—

-Kansas City Pioneers… (fits the American frontier geography/history)
-Kansas City Cowboys or Wranglers… (cattle market of the past etc.)
-Kansas City Commanches…(oops! Better not go there..but they do have the Chiefs)
-Kansas City Monarchs (Tribute to Negro league baseball team…and fits regal theme of Royals baseball)
-Kansas City Cougars..(grrrrrrr)
-Kansas City Bears… (what the hell..use a polar bear in the logo. Makes as much sense as penguins)
-Kansas City Huskies… (Mush!!)

I’m not a fan of the not-specific-to-humans and animals nicknames like Avalanche…or Lightning... but if you want to go down that road, how about-
-Kansas City Blizzard… (cold like ice, prairie weather etc.)
-Kansas City Comets… (good illiteration).
-Kansas City Crunch.. (I don’t even like that one)
-Kansas City Sparks …(like the glint off a skate blade)

My head is starting to hurt. You can add your thoughts in the comments link at the bottom.

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