It’s not every day that a minor league hockey team goes viral on Twitter. Then again, it’s not every day that a team changes its name to the Swamp Rabbits.
Social media mentions were multiplying like, well, rabbits when the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors announced on Wednesday that they had dumped the nickname they’d used since their move to the city in 2010 for one that colorfully connects the franchise to an historic train line.
“We determined that we wanted our new identity to honor a piece of Greenville’s history while also being relevant within the community today,” said Fred Festa, owner of the Swamp Rabbits. “Ultimately, we selected the Swamp Rabbits because the name holds dear to a variety of residents, businesses, popular recreational areas and the historic landmark, the Swamp Rabbit railroad, dating back the 1920s in Greenville.”
The railroad, which linked the South Carolina city with the coal fields of Tennessee, became known as the “Swamp Rabbit” by locals who would use the freight train as a means of transportation to picnic in northern Greenville County.
“We think the Swamp Rabbits will symbolize the competitive spirit of our players,” said general manager Chris Lewis, whose team is the AA affiliate of the New York Rangers. “We want our brand to best reflect what a night out at a hockey game is all about, which is fun and excitement for the entire community.”
Not sure if an old railroad does the trick, but the new logo sure does. A feisty cottontail with a carrot hockey stick? Hands down, one of the best in the minors.
Well done, Greenville.
GALLERY: The 10 Greatest NHL Logos of All Time
The 10 Greatest NHL Logos of All Time
#10: Florida Panthers 1993-present
When your nickname is common—Panthers is the sixth-most common in college sports—you'd better have an uncommon logo in order to stand out from the crowd. This one delivers, with the panther appearing to spring off the jersey as it attacks. A reminder that if you're going to use a wild animal as your logo, the least you can do is make it look ferocious (we're looking at you, Bruins pooh bear).
#9: Boston Bruins 1949-1995
Famed American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes once referred to the State House in Boston as “the hub of the universe.” Not surprisingly, the compliment was well received in a town that's always lived in the shadow of New York City. The spokes then are symbolic of the area's desire to be at the center of everything. #symbolism, man.
#8: St. Louis Eagles 1934-35
It's a look very much of its time, like it was drawn up by Jimmy Cagney on a racing form in the back room of a speakeasy. But that duo-tone eagle still resonates today, a symbol of rugged individualism. A real beauty. (The Eagles, by the way, existed for only one season after being moved from Ottawa where they began life as the Senators in 1883).
#7: Montreal Canadiens 1956-present
From a design perspective this isn't the best look out there but there's no denying how iconic this logo is. The bleu, blanc et rouge combine to create one of the most instantly recognizable looks in sports. Just remember, the H stands for “hockey,” not Habs.
#6: Phoenix Coyotes 1996-03
Now this is how you pay tribute to native culture. Bright, bold and completely original, the kachina design honored the influence of the indigenous peoples of the region and gave the Coyotes a look unlike anything before or since.
#5: Buffalo Sabres 1970-96
Is the image of a buffalo rampaging over a pair of crossed sabres too literal? Nope, it's perfect, red eye, motion stripe and all. Bonus marks for the original lighter blue—a much more appealing shade than the one currently in use.
#4: Toronto Maple Leafs 1963-67
There's something about this logo that evokes the image of Maple Leaf Gardens filled with gentlemen wearing suits and fedoras to cheer on Frank Mahovlich, Davey Keon and Tim Horton. As crisp and classic as Cary Grant.
#3: Hartford Whalers 1979-92
The color combination hasn't aged well but there's no denying the genius of the design: the green W base with the blue whale tail above it forming an H in the negative space. Brilliant. No wonder it remains one of the league's best sellers long after the team departed for Carolina.
#2: Detroit Red Wings 1948-present
New owner James Norris wanted to honor both the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association—of which he was a member—and Detroit's burgeoning auto industry with the Red Wings name and logo. After a couple of early minor revisions this design has remained virtually unchanged for nearly 70 years and ranks as one of the most recognizable logos in all of sports.
#1: Minnesota Wild 2000-present
High concept designs are often too clever for their own good, but this striking logo relies on excellent execution to avoid the pitfalls. By combining elements that define the state's vast wilderness—the pine trees, the river, the brightly colored sky and the shooting star—inside the outline of a black bear head it delivers a bold and instantly recognizable look that stands out as the league's best.