The Hamilton Pistols quietly debuted a revamped uniform set this week. The changes are designed, in the words of GM Marcel LaClaire, to “emphasize our Canadian pride and our Hamilton pride.” The changes also de-emphasize the firearms imagery, which may be a subtle first step toward changing the team’s name.
The biggest change is the introduction of a new secondary logo (pictured above), replacing the previous secondary logo, which featured a silhouette of a handgun over a red oval. The new maple leaf logo appears on the sleeves of the team’s home and road jerseys, and is the primary crest on the team’s new red-and-white third jersey.
The maple leaf-ization of the uniforms didn’t stop with the new logo, either. All three uniforms now have small maple leaves superimposed on the rear hem of the jersey and the socks. In addition, the road jersey now say “Hamilton” on the front, rather than “Pistols.”
According to LaClaire, these changes are designed to highlight the team’s Canadian identity. “Hockey is a proud Canadian sport and we are a proud Canadian city,” said the Pistols GM. “We love our country and our city, and we want to make that clear in our uniforms.”
The move drew criticism from the SHL’s other two Canadian teams, the Saskatchewan Shockers and Quebec Tigres. The Tigres issued a press release blasting Hamilton’s “land grab” and saying “If the Pistols believe that they can become ‘Canada’s Team’ by festooning their uniforms with maple leaves, they are quite mistaken. We are quite satisfied with being Quebec’s team.” Meanwhile, Shockers GM Cooper Matthews jibed, “I don’t know, over-the-top patriotism seems more American to me. Canadians don’t do this.”
Some critics, though, think the change is less about celebrating Canada and more about downplaying the Pistols name. The team has been picketed by gun-control groups in the past, and although owner Cory Blackwood, Jr. loves the name, it’s rumored that some senior league officials don’t. According to this theory, the league has ordered the team to de-emphasize the “Pistols” branding, with the goal of changing to a less controversial name down the line. The league office declined to comment on this theory, and LaClaire insisted that the uniform changes were solely the team’s idea.
If the league is secretly pushing the Pistols to change their name, team star Steven Alexander insists it will happen over his dead body. “I think Pistols is a great name for a hockey team,” Alexander told reporters. “We’re fast and lethal. It’s a perfect fit.” Alexander is a fan of the new uniforms, though. “I think they look sharp,” he said. “And I like having ‘Hamilton’ on the front of our road unis. It’s good for us to represent.”