Love the team—hate the name

Newfoundlanders are up in arms over St. John's new hockey team being named after a popular Tim Hortons beverage

Love the team—hate the name

Tom Henheffer

It’s the vodka fuelling their jigs, the blended cappuccino expanding their waistlines, the frozen islands sinking their cruise liners—ice caps are ingrained in Newfoundland culture. But many islanders don’t want the iconic iceberg adorning the jerseys of St. John’s new AHL franchise.

“It’s probably a little bit close to the Tim Hortons thing,” says Gerry Taylor, chairman of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador. A recent online poll by the Telegram, St. John’s daily newspaper, found a full two-thirds of residents are unhappy about calling their team the Ice Caps. Many critics simply don’t like the association with the creamy summer beverage, but Taylor also feels that the designation is too St. John’s-centric. “It should be more than a capital city team,” he says.

Team director Danny Williams, the former premier of Newfoundland, says the name was actually chosen to appeal to the entire province. “We make Iceberg Vodka, Iceberg Water, we’re the leading jurisdiction for Arctic research. The ice cap is iconic here.”

The time constraints of a rapidly approaching season forced the team’s ownership to forgo an open contest. But Williams says the name was chosen from public suggestions, and that his own straw polls had a very positive response. “If Ice Caps had two objections, others had 10 objections,” he says. You’ll never strike on the perfect name that pleases 100 per cent of people.”

Still, the brand is already an early success. Sponsors are lining up, from the Bank of Nova Scotia to Pepsi and local breweries, and the club is leading the AHL in season ticket sales. “I think the naysayers will come around,” says Williams. “We’re going to put a gritty, hard-working team on the ice. Newfoundlanders will embrace it.”