BTLNHL #10: Vancouver Canucks
Oh boy, here we go. If you read my Calgary Flames post and the comments that followed it, you know I love the Canucks and I’m going to have to defend placing the Canucks so high in these standings. But, let’s be honest, 10th isn’t really that high, is it? In elementary school, you’d only get a participant ribbon for coming in 10th (Yay, I showed up!). We’re not talking super-elite here, but better than decent, worthy of a little praise and generally better than most.
And I would say that this logo is easily better than most. The concept is totally there. It’s got elements of style, strength, character and a definite link to the area it’s representing. It has a concept of simplicity ingrained in it, but yes, it could definitely take some cleaning up as some parts are superfluous and erratic.
But first, a very short biology lesson. The animal in this logo is a killer whale. Not an orca. Okay, it is an orca, but a very good biologist friend of mine has informed me that Orca (or Orcinus) is a species name. And there’s a fish and a butterfly which is also called an orca. Strange but true. So, to keep all of you hundreds of trained biologists who I know read this blog about hockey religiously, I’ll only refer to it as a killer whale. Stick-tap to @agignac for the info!
Back to sports. I have gone to great lengths to critique the use of animals in NHL logos, with the Panthers and Sharks for example. But never did I say that it couldn’t be done. It’s just hard to do well. The Wild did it well, but there were other issues with the logo that kept it lower. And there’s two more teams with animals in their logos that haven’t come up yet (the Penguins and the Coyotes, and the Blackhawks, if you count humans as animals). Even some minor league teams have veered away from the cartoonish nature that can plague animal-based logos, and it can work very well.
So why does it work for the Canucks? First, for Vancouver, the use of the killer whale is a no-brainer. If you have not been to Vancouver or the surrounding area, I might be able to understand not knowing that killer whales are extremely prevalent in the waters around Vancouver, but seriously, they’re everywhere. They build statues of killer whales in Vancouver, both by professional artists, and as charity items. Also, at the time this logo was created, the Canucks were owned by a company named Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment. Orca? Tsk tsk. Obviously, they didn’t consult an educated biologist like I did.
But, it’s also the styling of the killer whale that connects the logo to the city. Every single element specific to the killer whale is designed with traditional native motifs, including the white element on the dorsal fin and the teeth. The nose/eyes are more of an extrapolation from other parts of Native designs. And like killer whales, the Pacific First Nations’ culture is prolific in Vancouver. If you’re not familiar with the stylings of this culture, it might look strange and unfamiliar, but trust me, this whale is designed specifically with Vancouver in mind. This statue is outside the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. It’s a killer whale in the Native style and it’s as Vancouver as you can get. I’d say in terms of connecting a logo to its city through its design, the Canucks are easily in the top 3 in the league. That scores major points.
And I’m a fan of the Native design style as it’s incredibly distinct, but still uses very simplistic elements to create it. The teeth are simple and not cartoonish. The eye gives an element of anger and strength, but it’s not overdone. The element on the dorsal fin is a small element that compliments the rest of the whale perfectly and allows the eye to follow the contours of the C. Without it, it looks a bit bare. With it, you know exactly the style that the designer was going for. The nose, meh, unnecessary and at small sizes it’s almost undistinguishable as anything. That, you could definitely lose.
The killer whale is also done well in the sense that it’s kept minimalist, using only one colour plus white, with very simple features to distinguish it as a killer whale: two fins and teeth and eyes. Aside from the nose thing I already discussed, it’s as minimal as necessary. As I’ve said before, more is not more. Less is not more. ‘Just enough’ is more.
Okay, I’ve beaten the killer whale to death. Moving on to the “C”. The shape of the letter itself is really nice, elongated to give it some style, solidity and more of a contemporary edge. As a letter standing on its own, it would look something like this. A little thick on the left, but it has a contemporary yet classic feel to it. It’s actually similar to another iconic “C” in hockey, but it’s modified enough that it’s still distinctive and independent of its Montreal cohort. It’s fitting that they use a similar foundation for their logos, as Canucks and Canadiens mean the same thing. The differentiating point between the two is that the Habs have that notch at the top right part of their C, the Canucks have their C a little more angular, coming to a point on the left.
The colour scheme is nice as well, basically two-tones of blue and a grey, keeping it very simple, and mixes nicely with the green of their jerseys. Is the green necessary? I’m not totally convinced, but it’s a nice callback to their original jerseys and logo. And the new colour scheme flatters the logo a lot more than the original colours of the logo. That’s just crazy ugly, and a little more typical of ’90s design. It shows you how much colour can destroy a decent logo.
Before I convince myself on how great my team’s logo is and push it farther up the standings, I’d be the first to admit that there’s some negatives. First, and most obviously, is the ice that the whale is busting out of. I like the concept of incorporating the whale into a “C” in a way that somewhat makes sense for a logo, but breaking through ice with shards flying everywhere is a bit over-the-top and, again, typical of ’90s (Xtreme!!!) design. It’s bordering on cartoonish and could be refined. Here’s a version with things toned down, and with then nose removed too. A little more sleek, a little more simple.
Also, the extra grey outline seems unnecessary. I know sports logos generally love outlines of all sorts, but there ends up being three outlines around the bottom part of the C, which is usually one too many. Nobody likes to see too many outlines, except David Caruso who would otherwise be unemployed.
So, there you have it. My impassioned plea to everyone who hates the Canucks logo. To me, it’s a damn fine logo. Great concept, good execution and connects itself to the city. Are there flaws? Definitely, but that’s why it’s in 10th place and not higher.
Are you convinced?
Either way, that officially brings us into the top 10 and finishes off the Northwest Division.
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