Connect with us

Hockey History

What If the Sharks…Weren’t the Sharks?

Published

on

Arturs Irbe, San Jose Sharks

What if the Sharks weren’t the Sharks?

Last week, San Jose Hockey Now caught up with former San Jose Sharks vice president of marketing & broadcasting Matt Levine, who shared his thoughts about Seattle choosing to be the Kraken. Levine is now involved with 3BALLUSA, a fledgling 3-on-3 pro basketball league that will send players to the 2020 Olympics.

But 30 years ago, he had a hand in the naming of George Gund III’s expansion Bay Area NHL franchise, holding a widely-publicized name-the-team contest that generated over 2,300 suggestions.

According to Levine, these were the top five choices for team nicknames besides the Sharks, some internal, some from the name-the-team contest:

San Jose TigerSharks

The TigerShark Tank, anybody?

“It was a fantasy shark with stripes. We had some great graphics,” Levine said. “Because of what we liked about the graphics, the fact it could be exciting, the TigerSharks were there.”

San Jose IceHawks

Despite the presence of Bill Wirtz’s Chicago Blackhawks, Gund was a fan of the IceHawks.

“When we had it as a finalist, we went to the Wirtz family, out of courtesy,” Levine said. “They said please don’t use it.”

San Jose Seawolves

“We narrowed down the choices to three: Sharks, Stingrays, and Seawolves,” Levine said in 1992. (Salley-Schoen, Gwen. “When the shark bites.” The Sacramento Bee, March 11, 1992.)

However, of that trio, the Seawolves ran a distant third.

“We did not assign anybody to render Seawolves,” Levine recalled. “It was something like Kraken but with no history, thus requiring us to create a story around it to feed imaginations.”

San Jose Stingrays

How close were you to wearing a Stingrays jersey? Probably closer than you realize.

Levine recounted:

“We looked at Stingrays very seriously. They were scary, they were aggressive. And this was before the Tampa Bay Rays, so nobody was using it.

“We had three artists research and depict the Stingrays. But it looked like nothing but a pancake. And it was two syllables.

“When three talented artists couldn’t come up with a way to demonstrate a threatening Stingray, we abandoned it.”

San Jose Blades

The Blades actually beat out the runner-up Sharks in the name-the-team contest. But Gund pulled rank, and the rest is history.

“Blades were single syllable. We had some ice skate images that could’ve delivered Blades,” Levine noted. “But the feedback was it was more related to gangs. Also, it’s pretty boring.”

San Jose Sharks

Levine said there were seven criteria when it came to naming the expansion Bay Area NHL franchise:

• Had to have a regional connection
• Had to be a unique name in all of sports
• Had to be emotionally charged and exciting
• Had to lend itself to “imaginative graphic interpretation”
• Had to suggest qualities you’d want in a hockey player and team
• Could not be shortened in a headline
• Couldn’t be a concept name

IceHawks and Seawolves were concept names. TigerSharks and Stingrays were too easily shortened. Blades wasn’t exciting.

“Nothing met all of our criteria,” Levine said.

Except for one name.

“There was a certain perfection about Sharks.”

Before the Sharks

There were over 2,300 nicknames considered for the expansion franchise.

Levine added: “I didn’t want anything reminiscent of the previous NHL team.” So any Seals or Seals-like suggestions were immediately tossed.

Here’s a partial, alphabetized list, per Levine and a variety of sources — do you have any more to add?

Aftershocks
Alcatraz Techs
Americans
Armadillos
Barracudas
Bart Simpsons
Baybees
Bay-o-nets
Blade Runners
Blue Fins
Bounced Checks
Brahmas
Breakers
Breeze
Bytes
Cable Cars
Calamari
Cansecos
Chips
Comets
Condors
Conquistadors
Diablos
Dragons
Explorers
Faults
Fog
Fog Busters
Fog Horns
Freezers
Gold
Gold Rushers
Golden Gaters
Golden Skaters
Grizzlies
Iceberg
Icebreakers
Icemen
IceSharks (Levine: “It was a shark with snow flecks all over the body. Another fantasy shark.”)
Integrated Circuits
Knights
Lasers
Microchips
Micros
Missions
Navigators
Ninjas
Otters
Pioneers
Piranhas
Polar Bears
Pucks
Pucksters
Quicksilver
Rambos
Redwoods
Renegades
Rhinos (Levine: “We ended up giving it to our roller hockey team. We had some great graphics for it.”)
Rubber Puckies
Saddlesores
Sages
Salty Dogs
Screaming Squid
Sea Lions
Sequoias
Sixcess
Slapshots
Sombreros
Sourdoughs
Supercolliders
Technopolitans
Thunder
Thunderblades
Tremblers
Vultures
Waves
Winchesters
Yodeling Yams
Zambonis

Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network plus an ad-free browsing experience.

Sheng’s Travel Fund

Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.


Click here to contribute to Sheng's travel pool!

Get SJHN in your inbox!

Enter your email address to get all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Sharks Team & Cap Info

SJHN on Facebook

Follow SJHN on Twitter

All the San Jose Sharks news that's fit to print

Enter your email to get the best Sharks coverage delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.