NHL Logo Cup: The History and Evolution of Iconic Blackhawk and Bruin Logos

With Stanley Cup fever raging, and Right Hat splitting alliances between the Chicago and Boston offices, the Blackhawk face and Bruin B are everywhere. Each of these “original six” teams are rich in history and incorporate hometown traditions in their trademark designs.

Although Chicago’s is the best (alright, I’m biased, but Sportsnet agrees ranking it #1 most iconic in the league), Boston’s is not far behind (ranking 9th overall). We decided to take a look back at the evolution of each logo and corresponding team histories.

The Chicago Blackhawks’ (once the Chicago Black Hawks) name was inspired by the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division in WWII, which was commanded by first team owner, Major Fredrick McLaughlin. The battalion was nicknamed “The Blackhawks” after a famous Illinois Sauk Nation figure. McLaughlin, a Harvard educated coffee tycoon, came up with the $12,000 entry fee and founded the team in 1926. In order to supply players, he purchased the Portland Rosebuds and moved them over to Chicago where he thankfully began a rebranding process. The Chicago Rosebuds just don’t seem as intimidating.

McLaughlin’s wife, Irene Castle, created the original Blackhawks logo and designed the team uniforms. As a testament to her skill, both the logo and uniforms changed very little over the decades. The first logo was black and white but eventually evolved to include color. Luckily, the first color version in 1936, which depicted the Blackhawk face with cartoony red skin, was soon replaced with a more natural and probably less offensive look. Besides the color change, the Blackhawks logo got some cosmetic enhancements in the form of a smile and a nose job. Surprisingly, the Chicago Blackhawks have received little criticism over the years for the “political incorrectness” of using a Native American mascot (as compared with the Fighting Illini or Washington Redskins). Perhaps it is because the logo is so rich in cultural history, or perhaps nobody wants to mess with hockey players.

The Bruins, like the Blackhawks, have a history steeped in local tradition. Charles Adams, a grocery store tycoon, created the team in 1924 after paying $15,000 to enter the league (McLaughlin got a better deal). Whereas Chicago’s owner purchased another hockey team to fill his roster, Adams took this one step further by purchasing the entire Western Canada Hockey League. He made the team colors brown and yellow, based on those of his grocery store chain, and now only needed a name. This task was charged to Adams’ first team manager, Art Ross, who went on to lead the team to three Stanley Cups. His instructions were to come up with something communicating speed, agility and cunning. Bruins, or giant bears, were his answer.

The team logo has gone through some changes over the years, but remains true to Bostonian culture. The Bruin B was placed in the center of a wheel with spokes in 1948 giving homage to the city’s nickname, “The Hub.” This phrase comes from Cambridge born author Oliver Wendell Holmes, who described the Massachusetts State House as “the hub of the solar system.” The Bruins logo evolved most recently in 2007 to have a stronger and more centered B. The newly angled serifs and cut corners are reminiscent of the original font and crest.

Looking back at each logo’s reflection of a unique city culture, it is not surprising to see them pop up everywhere. If the Blackhawks decorated lion statues outside the Chicago Art Institute or the guy wearing a suit made of Bruin rally towels prove anything, it is that no matter how much these logos change, the fans will wear them with pride.

Sources:

  1. The Chicago Blackhawks Logo Through the Years. "Levon, Whitney. Yahoo! News."
  2. Chicago Blackhawks“History.” 
  3. A New Look for the Boston Bruins. ”Boston Bruins." 
  4. The History of the Hub of Hockey. ”Boston Bruins."  

Special thanks to Cindy Bell, the Bruins’ biggest fan, for the inspiration.

Like what you see? Stay in touch.