BTLNHL #24: Washington Capitals
On the journey to the best team logo in the NHL, we’ve entered the next phase. From my perspective, we’ve left the Land of the Truly Horrible Logos and entering the Expansive Grove of the Mediocre. This area has some pretty decent logos in there, but nothing that makes them truly exceptional. It’s like the group of teams that have an outside chance of winning the Stanley Cup, but definitely not a favourite. The fact that we’re only at #24 and we’re already in that second tier of logos says something about the quality of most of the logos in the league. The ones from #25-#30 had way more going wrong with them than going right. Now, there’s more going right with these logos, but there’s still some things going wrong.
Okay, that was a bit of a lead-in, but bringing up the bottom of this new expansive grove of logos is the Washington Capitals. They have similar problems to that of the Anaheim Ducks, in that it’s a font-based logo (which is not necessarily a problem) that is more horizontal than vertical (which is definitely a problem). That’s enough right there to push the logo down to #29 on this list, but it’s got enough style and simplicity going for it to keep it from the basement. Here’s why.
I have a soft spot for fonts and typography. And I like it when designers go out of their way to create custom-made fonts for their projects, especially when it’s for something distinctive like a logo. It instantly creates a uniqueness and style to the brand you’re almost guaranteed won’t exist elsewhere (depending, of course, on the style of the font created, not some strange Helvetica wannabe). That being said, there’s issues with this font:
- The ‘p’ is excellently-shaped and has a great feel to it.
- The ‘i’ and ‘l’ are fine, although it’s hard to screw those up.
- The ‘t’ has issues since the design of the crossbar creates an area of deadspace between the ‘i’ and the ‘t’ that’s distracting.
- The ‘s’ I can live with. The extending arm on the bottom of the letter works well in this instance, when smashed up against an extra-tall ‘l’.
- However, that extending arm is copied on the second ‘a’, and that really doesn’t work. I’m assuming it was to balance the white space between the ‘i’ and ‘t’, but it creates an awkward and clunky letterform. As well, the counter is shaped oddly and could have just been flush, like on the shoulder. And the spur doesn’t need to be there either. The spirit of the ‘p’, which is well-done, is not extended to the ‘a’ at all. And the kerning between the ‘a’ and ‘p’ could be narrowed.
- That leaves the ‘c’. It’s caught somewhere between the styles of the ‘a’ and the ‘p’, making it look kind of half-finished. The finial on the ‘c’ is probably the worst part of the whole word.
Okay, so that was a mini-lesson in typography terminology, but to sum everything up, here’s an alternate version of the current logo that I slapped together, addressing all the issues above. Not perfect yet at all (the ‘t’ still bugs me), but after a 10-minute job, there’s definitely a cleaner and more cohesive feel to it.
Astute observers may notice that I also changed the blade of the hockey stick and the puck a bit too. It doesn’t make sense to me why these are on a different angle from the rest of the logo, as it doesn’t create dynamism, but rather confusion, so I straightened those out as well.
On another note, vintage is the new black in NHL logos, and the Caps logo is a good example of this. After flirting with eagles, architecture and awful colour schemes (Hunter to the box, 2 minutes for dressing badly) during the ’90s and ’00s, they went back to a similar look as their original logo (at left), but threw out the quasi-Helvetica backward-italic font to create a brand new one, and that makes me happy. Helvetica’s great, but it looses it’s distinctiveness when everyone uses it all the time.
The stars work well on the logo since it adds a little bit of upward movement for the eye. The design of the old logo causes the eye to pretty much go straight across. On the new one, the eyes start at the ‘c’, go diagonally up (helped out by the stars) to the top of the hockey stick, then back down, then back to the ‘c’. It creates a nice balance and cyclical movement.
As for the rest of the logo…The colour scheme makes perfect sense for it’s location, so no complaints there. The “Washington” is bland enough to allow the “Capitals” to shine through, although (like the Ducks) the “Washington” doesn’t really make sense to even include since it’s too small to read during gameplay anyway.
But what I really appreciate that is they didn’t try to overdo it, like in their logos from the ’90s and ’00s, and in most of the logos on the bottom of the BTLNHL list. Simplicity. Less is more. More is also more, but sometimes less is more. Makes perfect sense, no?
Oh, and bonus points for their alternate logo patch. See the Capitol building in there? Very clever. I love good use of negative space.
So, there’s some pluses, some minuses on this logo, but the horizontal nature of the logo is, again, a big strike against it, as it was with the Ducks. So, the Washington Capitals sit in 24th spot.
The BTLNTL Countdown Posts
BTLNHL Finals: Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings
BTLNHL #3: Philadelphia Flyers
BTLNHL #4: St. Louis Blues
BTLNHL #5: Montreal Canadiens
BTLNHL #6: Pittsburgh Penguins
BTLNHL #7: Chicago Blackhawks
BTLNHL #8: Toronto Maple Leafs
BTLNHL #9: Phoenix Coyotes
BTLNHL #10: Vancouver Canucks
BTLNHL #11: Edmonton Oilers
BTLNHL #12: New York Rangers
BTLNHL #13: Calgary Flames
BTLNHL #14: Buffalo Sabres
BTLNHL #15: Winnipeg Jets
BTLNHL #16: Minnesota Wild
BTLNHL #17: New Jersey Devils
BTLNHL #18: Nashville Predators
BTLNHL #19: Carolina Hurricanes
BTLNHL #20: New York Islanders
BTLNHL #21: Ottawa Senators
BTLNHL #22: Tampa Bay Lightning
BTLNHL #23: Columbus Blue Jackets
BTLNHL #24: Washington Capitals
BTLNHL #25: San Jose Sharks
BTLNHL #26: Florida Panthers
BTLNHL #27: Dallas Stars
BTLNHL #28: Los Angeles Kings
BTLNHL #29: Colorado Avalanche
BTLNHL #30: Anaheim Ducks