BTLNHL #20: New York Islanders
After a brief pause to talk with Terry Smith and to talk about Winter Classic jerseys, BTLNHL continues at #20 with the New York Islanders. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy to place all these teams in order for this countdown and it’s impossible to separate personal prejudices when doing something like this. I bring this up because this is arguably the first team in the countdown that has a storied history and legacy. Sure, Tampa Bay, Colorado and Anaheim have all won the Cup, but the Islanders had a dynasty, winning 4 straight Stanley Cups from 1980-84. And a logo always seems to look better when it’s attached to a person raising the Stanley Cup, especially multiple times.
Would the Islanders be ranked lower had they not been a dynasty in the ’80s? Perhaps. Am I overcompensating that thought by ranking them too low now? Maybe. Would the Avalanche been ranked higher than #29 had they won more than 2 Cups when they were a dominant team in the ’90s and ’00s? Probably not. That logo sucks.
After a brief stint in the processed fish production industry, the Islanders have gone back to their original logo, one that’s dipped like a DQ cone in legacy. And good on them. It was the proper move after that horrible foray into ’90s horrible logo and jersey design. But it’s still not a logo that deserves to be in the top 2/3 of the league.
My biggest pet peeve about the logo is the “I” in “Islanders”. It’s unfortunate that the “I” overlaps with the map of Long Island, but is there any other way around this, rather than just cut-out the overlapping part to make it the same blue as the background? Sure there is, and it took me 5 minutes. To me, the “I” as it is just seems lazy.
The use of a map of Long Island in general is something unusual for a sports logo. It’s currently the only team in the four main professional leagues in North America to use a map in their logo, although there were a couple in the past, like the Golden State Warriors and the New Jersey Nets in the NBA. As recently as last year, Tampa Bay used a map of Florida in their alternative logo, but these are generally places where the map of the state/area are somewhat iconic in themselves. Florida is easily recognizable. Does anyone outside of the Eastern Seaboard know what Long Island actually looks like? It looks more like the beginnings of a Rorshach test.
But that begs the question, does it matter? Your fans are going to be predominantly the people living on Long Island, especially considering both the Rangers and Devils are so close to the team, but off the island. So maybe it doesn’t matter in the end, but it’s still a topic of interest for logo design. And it seems like a strange inclusion here. I can’t decide whether I like it or not. But I guess the other options may be limiting when your team name is the Islanders, which might otherwise lead to stuff like sea captains being used. Yikes!
What works for the logo is the bold simplicity of it. Like the large “NY” dominating the upper-half of the logo with the tail of the “Y” becoming a hockey stick. The difference of the thickness between the “NY” letters and the hockey stick gives it a very specific styling and makes it instantly recognizable. You could remove everything else from the logo and you would know what team it is. Distinctiveness and simplicity makes for great logos. But the thickness of the “NY” is important too in that it gives a solid strength to the entire logo. The human eye is naturally attracted to the place with the highest contrast, and the white “NY” on the blue background ensures that this is main focus of the logo. It works well.
The “Islanders” text, is a little bit too MS Word Text Art, but there’s no effects like gradients and bevelling on it, so it’s mostly non-offensive. Again, simplicity here makes it work better. And the fact that it’s orange on blue, so not as much contrast, ensures it’s not the focus of the logo. But the text is also not even, coming up higher on the left than the right and slightly of centre (see here), which is strange if you’re going to create text that wraps the bottom of a circle like that. Which brings us back to that “I” again. The human eye is also naturally attracted to pattern (remember Magic Eye?), and that “I” overlap creates a kind of pattern and it draws attention when it’s something that really shouldn’t. And because of the unbalanced text, makes it sense even less necessary.
Just two more things, one good, one bad.
Like a movie fan hoping for a happy ending, let’s go with the bad news first. Knowing why the human eye is attracted to contrast, why would anyone put the “®” on the logo in white, and so large? It is, by far, the least important element in the logo. Like small print on any document, it has to be there for legal purposes, so why draw any attraction to it at all? Bizarre. Better.
And the happy ending? It’s the only difference between the original and current logo. Fresh from the Sunday morning newspaper, it’s like a game of spotting the difference. It’s very subtle but acknowledges the great history of the Islanders. There’s four stripes on the hockey stick instead of three, honouring the four Stanley Cups the franchise has won. Brilliant.
I guess if the Islanders win another Cup, they’ll add another stripe to the stick, but given their recent GM/management history, I don’t think we’ll need to worry about that for a few years.
But, unlike their standings in the last few seasons, the Islanders are ahead of 1/3 of the league with their logo, coming in at #20.
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