2016 Rebranding Project: How Will It Work?

With contraction complete, it's time to kick off the IceHL 2016 Rebranding Project. Every summer we hold a series of design contests to keep the league fresh and exciting. That tradition continues.

We will relocate and/or rebrand two to four teams. As always, your votes will determine how we proceed every step of the way. We'll begin with polls to determine which teams will be affected, then select cities for the relocated teams. From there we'll take name suggestions and vote on our favorites. After that, artists will start designing logos and once again we'll vote. We'll rinse and repeat for the jerseys and by the end of August, we'll have our brand new teams!

I'm sure you're excited to know how all of this will work. Let's start with the eligible teams, but first here's a reminder of the recent league realignment so you know where each team is.

Eligible Teams

Originally, I proposed 8 to 10 teams be eligible for the Rebranding Project. However, fan feedback suggested this was too restrictive to the community. Therefore, I'm expanding the eligibility pool by setting forth the following protection criteria:

  1. Any current or past league champion.
    We're honoring teams that have won it all by protecting their brands. This includes Alaska, Boston, Boulder, Edmonton, Helsinki, London, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Salt Lake City.
  2. Any team whose current GM has been with the league since its 2010 launch.
    While GMs do not play a part in team branding, we're honoring our longest-serving members here. Added to the ineligible list are California, St. Louis, Washington and Winnipeg.
  3. Any team created within the last year (i.e.: the 2015 IceHL World expansion).
    It's too soon to redesign these teams. Added to the protected list is Auckland. (Munich and Seoul were contracted and Helsinki was protected by #1.)

Those criteria leave us with 26 eligible teams, 13 from each conference. However, as commissioner I am extending special consideration to the Milwaukee Lagers, the team for which a jersey was manufactured and sold to fans in 2013. Because the Lagers brand is the only one that exists beyond cyberspace, it should be protected.

That brings us to a total of 25 teams eligible for relocation and/or rebranding. That's more than 60% of the league. The eligible lists are as follows:

IceHL West

  • *Calgary Stallions (Calgary, AB)
  • Crete Minotaurs (Crete, GRE)
  • Gold Coast Rush (Gold Coast, AUS)
  • Hawaii Honu (Honolulu, HI)
  • Houston Hellcats (Houston, TX)
  • Moscow Cosmonauts (Moscow, RUS)
  • New Orleans Gators (New Orleans, LA)
  • Northwest Narwhals (Yellowknife, NT)
  • Osaka Samurai (Osaka, JPN)
  • Portland Pioneers (Portland, OR)
  • Seattle Aviators (Seattle, WA)
  • Texas Outlaws (Dallas, TX)
  • Vancouver Lumberjacks (Vancouver, BC)

IceHL East

  • Baltimore Blue Crabs (Baltimore, MD)
  • *Detroit Chargers (Detroit, MI)
  • Geneva Mountaineers (Geneva, SUI)
  • *Halifax Dragons (Halifax, NS)
  • Hamilton Steelcats (Hamilton, ON)
  • Hartford Mariners (Hartford, CT)
  • Montreal Olympiques (Montreal, QC)
  • New York Guardians (New York, NY)
  • *Philadelphia Aces (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Quebec Armada (Quebec City, QC)
  • Stockholm Hammers (Stockholm, SWE)
  • Tampa Bay Barracudas (Tampa, FL)

* Denotes 4 teams which may be relocated, but NOT renamed. Due to a quirk in how long term IceHL records are currently kept, teams whose nicknames have changed in the past may not be changed again to anything new. They may, however, revert to their previous nickname.

For example, the Calgary Stallions, formerly the Cavalry, could be relocated to, say, Kansas City, but would have to be named either the Kansas City Stallions or Kansas City Cavalry. The logos and jerseys would still go through the normal redesign process regardless.

Selecting Teams for Rebranding

On Monday, we will begin the process of selecting the teams that will go through the rebranding process. There will be a maximum of 4 teams to ensure a reasonable summer workload for your favorite commissioner. And there will be a minimum of 2 teams to ensure there's a reason to have a Rebranding Project in the first place.

Selecting the teams to undergo rebranding will be a two-week process.

Week 1 of voting will include 2 polls — one for the IceHL East and one of the IceHL West — featuring the lists of eligible teams shown above. Voters will select up to 4 teams in each conference. The 4 teams receiving the most votes will advance to Week 2.

Week 2 of voting will include 8 polls — one for each team that advanced from Week 1. Each poll will include 3 options, with the following designations:

  • Relocation — This team should be moved to a new city, renamed and redesigned.
  • Rebranding — This team should be renamed and/or redesigned, but not moved.
  • No Changes — This team should NOT be rebranded in any way.

If a team receives more than 40% of vote in "No Changes," it will not advance beyond Week 2. That means votes for "Relocation" and "Rebranding" must total 60% or more combined to advance.

However, if more than 4 teams receive more than 60%, only the 4 teams with the highest percentage will advance. If fewer than 2 teams receive that amount, the 2 teams with the highest percentage will advance. These guidelines will keep us within our 2 to 4 team limit.

At the IceHL Design Council's discretion, a limit may be enforced that would prevent all 4 teams from being in the same conference. If 4 teams are selected for rebranding, there may need to be at least one from each conference for balance.

Those same poll results will also determine which teams will be included in the Week 3 relocation vote. If a team receives more votes for relocation than rebranding, they will move on to city selection. All others will wait for Week 4 name nominations.

Selecting Cities for Relocation

During the week of July 3, each team selected for relocation will have a poll containing a list of 8 to 10 cities — within the geographic bounds of their conference — to which they may move. The following cities have been pre-selected for relocation within each conference:

IceHL West

  • San Francisco, California
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Boise, Idaho


  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Miami, Florida
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Ottawa, Ontario

Cities are listed in order of market size. Name nominations may include nearby cities. For example, if San Francisco is selected, the team could be named for Oakland or Sacramento. (We'll try to avoid San Jose given its NHL and AHL presence — as well as any lesser known cities.)

Both lists are subject to change prior to the polls opening. Feel free to comment on any changes you'd like to see considered, including any non-North American cities.

Week 4 and Beyond...

By mid-July, we'll be well into the process of choosing teams names then designing logos and uniforms — tasks we've undertaken many times before. I'll recap the rules and procedures as we get closer to this portion of the project. We'll likely return to the bracket-style voting at that point.

Here's how the rest of the summer schedule shakes out.

  • Week of June 19 — Rebranding Vote, Round 1
  • Week of June 26 — Rebranding Vote, Round 2
  • Week of July 3 — Relocation Vote
  • Week of July 10 — Name Submissions
  • Week of July 17 — Name Voting
  • Sun, July 24 — Official announcement of new team names
  • July 24 – Aug 5 — Logo Submissions (2 weeks)
  • Week of Aug 7 — Logo Voting
  • Sun, Aug 14 — Official unveiling of winning logos
  • Week of Aug 14 — Jersey Submissions
  • Week of Aug 21 — Jersey Voting
  • Sun, Aug 28 — Official unveiling of winning jerseys

Looking past this summer, I'm already considering plans for 2017. It's unlikely the IceHL will expand in the foreseeable future, so any design contests would revolve around more rebrandings or possibly that elusive third jersey project. However, I've been holding off on third jerseys because I'm trying to think of ways to make IceHL uniforms more unique.

It could be that 2017 involves redesigning all team uniform sets. Some fans have proposed soccer-style primary/clash kits which would be an interesting aesthetic. (And let's not forget that 2017 will also involve the unveiling of new NHL jerseys from Adidas.)

More to come on all of that. Right now, settle in for the 2016 IceHL Rebranding Project!