The Ontario Hockey League last week approved the sale and relocation of the Plymouth Whalers to Flint, Michigan. And it looks as if the team's new name might be a giant nod and wink to a Will Ferrell comedy movie.
According to the Flint Journal, the team's new owners have registered a number of potential new franchise names with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, including "Flint Pride", "Flint Phoenix", "Flint Sparks", and "Flint Vikings". But the one that's resonating most with fans so far is "Flint Tropics" – a name first heard in Ferrell's sports comedy film "Semi-Pro". In that movie, a pro basketball team in the old American Basketball Association is known as the Flint Tropics – and in an interview with Sports Illustrated, the former Saturday Night Live superstar explained why the movie's creators selected such a curious name:
"They loved the idea of a Midwest kind of town with an odd name," Ferrell said when the film was released in 2008. "When you look back at the ABA, it had the Kentucky Colonels and other weird out-of-the-way places that had teams. Flint made sense because it was a small market and why would they have a team? The reason that it's the Tropics is because teams would move almost every year. In the first year of the league, the Minnesota Muskies had the second-best record in the league and they still had to move. They moved down to Florida and become the Floridians, so stuff was in transit all the time that it made for a funny combination."
The new Flint team, which will begin play next season at Perani Arena, is currently seeking suggestions on its new name via their website – you can also vote on the franchise's new colors and/or submit a logo – and is expected to make a decision and announcement Feb. 20. There could be enough of a Ferrell fan base out there to make it happen, but perhaps the new owners can instead persuade their soon-to-be-intrastate-rivals in Saginaw to give up rights to Steagle Colbeagle The Eagle, their mascot famously named after comedian Stephen Colbert.