The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

NHL, OK
sooner?
With the alleged financial hardships the NHL is experiencing, it's hard to believe any city (in the U.S. or Canada) would be lobbying for a franchise. But they're out there. NHL 21 continues to try to bring back the league to Kansas City. And down the road from there, Oklahoma City wonders if it's a good time to buy low in bringing a long-sought-after NHL team to the Sooner state. (You can pretty well disregard the gloom-and-doom pronouncements regarding the league's finances--come collective bargaining time, it's the usual story that's swallowed whole by fans.)

Hockey in Oklahoma? Sure 'nuff. The big leagues have never planted themselves there, but there's been a good amount of low-minor teams there over the years, playing all over town. Despite the beating its taken over the decades, the NHL is still major league, and there's no better way to signify a city as big-time than by getting a major-league franchise.

OKC has an improbable locational claim to getting an NHL team: Its position on the North Canadian River. The North Canadian River, in the state of Oklahoma. Now there's a piece of misplaced geography if there ever was one...

Assuming they someday do lure an NHL club to Oklahoma City, a team name becomes an order of business. The Blazers have been the most common tag of OKC hockey teams, but it seems a little provincial, not edgy or sexy enough for the big show. Of course, they could go even further in the other direction, call them the Oklahoma City Oakies or something. Perhaps there's some other Oklahoma-centric nickname that would be a better fit.