This week in uniforms and logos: Zombie franchises that died and were reborn
It's not a lame soap opera twist, it's not a zombie uprising, but this coming weekend we'll be re-introduced to something very familiar to all of us which has been dead and buried for over ten years... and no, it's not "Afroman's" career.
It's the Charlotte Hornets, ladies and gentlemen! They're back.
On Saturday, December 21st, the Charlotte Bobcats are expected to unveil the new logos of the re-born Charlotte Hornets, due to take the court for the first time since the 2001-02 season in October 2014. The team, one would imagine, retains the history and records of the expansion Bobcats from 2004/05 on, the original Hornets history stays in the Crescent City in the form of the New Orleans Pelicans.
What'll the new logos look like? That's anyone's guess. Right now the easy answer is "like the old ones" but nobody really knows. They've only unveiled the colour scheme so far and, well, it's like the old one. Teal and purple.
All we can do is base it off of what's happened in the past, the Charlotte Hornets are hardly the first team to rise up from the dead, what'd the other "Zombie Franchises" do in terms of their branding?
Let's take a look!
Born: 1972, Died: 1996, Re-Born: 2011
The original Winnipeg Jets left us following a first round exit in the 1996 NHL playoffs at the hand of the Detroit Red Wings. When the franchise took the ice again that autumn they were in Phoenix, Arizona and playing as the Coyotes. After several years of grassroots efforts to bring another team to town (and several close calls, at bringing those Coyotes back to Winnipeg) the Atlanta Thrashers headed north in 2011 where the team was re-christened as the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets fans got their team back but lost their history, technically Bobby Hull - the namesake of the Jets - played all those years for the Coyotes franchise.
The new Jets chose to go all-new with their branding, they barely look like their original selves, completely new logos and uniforms, a colour scheme barely the same. Aside from the name there's not much of a connection to the old team at all.
Born: 1905, Died: 1954, Re-Born: 2005
The death of the original Washington Nationals was a little easier to swallow than that of the Hornets and Jets, they at least stayed in the same city, simply changing their name to the Washington Senators... besides everyone was calling the team the "Senators" for years by that point anyways, this was just making things official.
Fast forward 50 years, the National League's Montreal Expos on life support for several seasons finally have the plug pulled, they end up in Washington DC where the popular "Senators" name is almost instantly removed from the list of possible names. Probably because they kept moving. They ended up taking on the Nationals name, much more fitting than the original club which had played in the American League.
The 2005 Nats ended up going fairly similar to their original selves, taking on a patriotic theme and a similar colour scheme. Their look ended up being more inspired by the re-born Washington Senators of the late 1960s and early 1970s, using the exact same cap as those Sens teams.
Fun addendum, the Senators (a re-born version of the 1901-04 Sens themselves) ended up moving to Minnesota in 1960 only to be instantly re-born the very next season in 1961. It's like an infinite loop of resurrected brands.
Born: 1946, Died: 1995, Re-Born: 1999
Yeah, yeah, I know, "officially" they never died they only took a "hiatus". Realistically the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore for 1996 and it was only an out-of-court settlement kept them from being known as the Baltimore Browns instead of the Ravens. Part of the deal between the City of Cleveland and the NFL to keep this franchise re-location as lawyer-free as possible was that the city retained the history to the team and they'd get a new team as soon as a new stadium was ready. The Ravens would be officially viewed as an expansion team, actual history be damned.
It didn't take long, by 1999 the new stadium was ready to go and the Cleveland Browns got their team "back". The Browns went back to exactly where they left off, same name, same logo-less logo, same uniforms and logo-less helmet, same colour scheme. What 4-year hiatus? Stop asking questions.
Born: 1909, Died: 1934, Re-Born: 1992
The Ottawa Senators were one of hockey's first Stanley Cup dynasties winning anywhere between 7 and 11 Cups (depending on what you consider their establishment date) and were a founding member of both the National Hockey Association and it's more popular, cooler younger brother the National Hockey League. Times got tough in North America in the early '30s and the Senators were a victim of that, they moved to St. Louis for the 1934/35 season, played a season as the Eagles before the franchise was buried for good.
In 1992 the City of Ottawa returned to the NHL courtesy an expansion franchise and took on the original Senators name and colours; there was a new logo and very unfortunately they didn't pay much homage to the original Sens forever classic barber pole uniforms (an oversight they have since corrected). The Senators officially have no link to the team of the early 20th Century, but they didn't stop them from hanging 11 Stanley Cup Championship banners in their arena complete with the modern Senators logos and branding. If you can't win 'em for reals, you can just say you did.
Born: 1946, Died: 1981, Re-Born: 1986, Re-Died: 1986, Re-Re-Born: 1996
Younger fans of the Canadian Football League probably can't imagine an unsuccessful team in Montreal, but yeah, it was pretty rough there for a while. In 1981 the original-original Alouettes folded, an expansion franchise was immediately awarded for 1982 which took on a new name and logo - the Montreal Concordes. When the Concordes were deemed a colossal failure owners tried to bring back the Alouettes name and logo for 1986... if only they tried moving out of that horrible stadium instead. The new Als failed after one year, the team folded.
In 1996 the Baltimore Stallions were coming off a Grey Cup Championship but were faced with being the only U.S. based team remaining in the suddenly once again all-Canadian CFL and with the NFL's Cleveland Browns moving to town, they decided to give Montreal a shot. Same old name, but a completely new logo, with a colour scheme a mix between the Stallions and original Als. The Alouettes are now officially considered to be the same franchise by the CFL as the one who played from 1946-86, their stop in Baltimore is also included in their franchise history.
Born: 1960, Died: 1981, Re-Born: 1995
Sports' original "black looks good" franchise, the Oakland Raiders started out in the American Football League in their inaugural 1960 season before being absorbed into the NFL with the other AFL teams for 1970, following a couple of Super Bowl victories in 1976 and 1980 the Raiders moved down the California coastline to Los Angeles where they retained their name, logo, colour scheme, and uniforms.
After 15 seasons in Los Angeles, which included a Super Bowl championship in 1983, the Raiders headed back to Oakland keeping the name. During their time in Los Angeles the Raiders never once made a change to their branding from their days in Oakland, everything was as they left it and it all returned to Oakland along with the team in 1995.
Born: 1890, Died: 1953, Re-Born: 1960
Surprised to see "baseball's oldest professional ball team" on here? Well, it's true. In 1953, the Cincinnati Reds, staring into the face of a wave of anti-communism sweeping the United States, changed their name to disassociate themselves from those other "Reds". From 1954 through 1959 they were known as the Cincinnati Redlegs and in the process of the new brand introduced a new mascot as a logo which the franchise still wears today.
Once cooler heads prevailed in the U.S., the Redlegs brought back the name we all know them by as well as the same logo they were using before the switch.
There's been a few other examples over the years, the Milwaukee Brewers (1901) and Baltimore Orioles (1901-02) were both previously members of the American League well before their current versions returned in 1970 and 1954 respectively, as well you could argue that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a re-incarnated Los Angeles Angels from 1961-64. In the 1930s both the Brooklyn Dodgers (Robins) and Boston Braves (Bees) came back to life following stints with other nicknames. If we're including cross-leagues the Baltimore Colts (NFL 1953-83) kinda made a comeback for a day or two in the CFL in 1994; and the Quebec Nordiques (NHL/WHA 1972-95) were announced but never played a game as the Quebec Nordiks in the new, failed WHA for 2005.
This Saturday we'll see where the Charlotte Hornets and their branding fit in with this history of teams brought back from the dead, will they be a straight return to their logo from the 1990s? Will it be something slightly modernized? Or are we in for something we've never seen from this brand before? If I had to bet I'd put it all on "slightly modernized".