Pistols Mascot Invites Foster, Night to “Fist City”

At this point, it’s well-known around the league that the Hamilton Pistols and New York Night don’t like each other.  The teams have been feuding for multiple seasons.  The rivalry was initially sparked and furiously stoked by Night coach Nick Foster.  The New York organization has also played its part in kindling the dislike, particularly during last season’s “Canada Night” promotion.  The Pistols have lobbed their own barbed remarks and occasionally gotten physical, but have generally preferred to let their play do the talking.  Foster’s recent jabs at the team’s new mascot, however, seem to have crossed the line, and the Pistols finally went after the New York coach and his team in a memorable in-game skit.

Crosscheck

The Pistols debuted Crosscheck, a friendly orange creature, as their new mascot about a month into the season.  Foster saw it for the first time shortly before the All-Star break, and wasted no time making fun of it.  Foster called Crosscheck a “freaky inbred Teletubby” and claimed that it represents a typical Pistols fan, because “it’s fat, missing most of its teeth, and it looks like its family tree is a straight line.”  Pistols fans and players alike were outraged by Foster’s insults, and the team decided to respond in kind.

The Night came to Hamilton on Saturday, and the fans filled the air with boos when Foster’s name was mentioned during the pregame lineup announcements.  Before the opening puck drop, the Pistols dimmed the lights and cued up a video on the Jumbotron.  It began with some clips of Foster’s descriptions of the Hamilton mascot.  Then, after a pause, it showed Crosscheck sitting in the office of owner Cory Blackwood, Jr.  The owner assured Crosscheck, “Listen, whatever you want to do, the organization is behind you.  I think it’s time you got even.”

The video then showed a series of clips of Hamilton players beating up New York players, interspersed with shots of Crosscheck venting his frustrations.  In one scene, he threw darts at a picture of Foster’s face.  In another, he went after a punching bag with Foster’s picture taped to it.  In yet another, he played a special version of Whack-A-Mole where all the “moles” were made to look like the Night coach’s head.  The whole sequence was scored to Loretta Lynn’s 1968 country classic “Fist City.”  The fans laughed and cheered throughout; even some of New York’s players appeared to be watching with evident amusement.

Finally, after the video was complete, Crosscheck came charging out on the ice, wearing boxing trunks and gloves.  He stopped in front of the Night bench, waved his fists around, and pointed at Foster, challenging the Night bench boss to a throwdown.  Foster responded by laughing and blowing kisses, while the fans booed.  Adding injury to insult, the Pistols proceeded to shut out the Night 3-0 during the game, with backup netminder Ron Mason stopping all 42 New York shots.

Nick Foster

“I loved it!” said Foster after the game.  “The freaky Teletubby earned my respect out there today.  It might not be too bright, but it knows how to stand up for itself.  Again, I’d say that the weirdo seemed like a typical Pistols fan, except that it seemed to be basically sober.”

The Pistols, naturally, dubbed Foster a coward for declining Crosscheck’s invitation to fight.  “Crosscheck called [Foster] out like a man, or whatever it is,” said LW Steven Alexander.  “And Foster had a chance to back up his mouth with some action, but of course he wouldn’t do it.  I wish I was surprised.  Crosscheck is ten times the man that Foster is, and Crosscheck’s not even a man.”

One thing’s for certain: the Pistols are clearly not inclined to take Foster’s insults lying down.  Will the Night respond in kind the next time Hamilton visits the Big Apple?  As angry as this rivalry already is, it could be heading for an even greater level of hatred.

Continue reading “Pistols Mascot Invites Foster, Night to “Fist City””

Hamilton’s Dramatic New Look Highlights 2019 Uni Changes

As the SHL prepares to take the ice for its 2019 season, several teams are announcing updates to their uniforms.  The list of changes isn’t as extensive as last season, when there were two new teams and four other clubs with new or modified looks.  This time around, however, there is one team – the Hamilton Pistols – that has completely overhauled its look, with a new logo, color scheme, and uniforms.

“Last year, our team showed that it was ready to be a rising power in this league,” said Pistols owner Cory Blackwood, Jr.  “Now we’ve got a fresh, up-to-date look that matches our fresh young roster.”

The Pistols’ logo has evolved over their tenure in the SHL.  The original logo prominently featured the silhouette of a handgun, a controversial choice that drew protests from gun-control groups.  Possibly as a result, the team began de-emphasizing the gun as a design element, increasingly featuring a secondary logo consisting of the letter “H” superimposed over a red maple leaf.  The team claimed that this logo was designed to highlight the team’s Canadian identity.  However, that logo earned the ire of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, who threatened the Pistols with trademark action.

Now, the Pistols have scrapped both their original gun-based logo and the secondary maple-leaf logo in favor of a striking new “Pistols” wordmark that includes a gun sight in place of the “O.”  

“We wanted something simple, clean, and modern-looking,” said Pistols GM Marcel LaClaire.  “Our old logo had kind of a ’70s Starsky-and-Hutch type of appearance, especially with that mustard yellow.  It was a little dated, and not suitable for today.  We found ourselves asking, ‘When our team wins the Vandy, do we want to be in these uniforms?’  We quickly realized that we did not.”

New home uniforms

The Pistols’ new uniforms pay homage to their previous look, while still providing a major departure.  Red is still Hamilton’s dominant color, but the secondary color has gone from mustard yellow to black.  The uniforms still have a contrasting color band along the shoulders and down the sleeves, but it narrows below the numbers.  The stripe at the bottom of the jersey kicks up at the end, as the silver trim has been modified to look like a hockey stick.

“We’re going to look a lot cooler on the ice now,” said Pistols star Steven Alexander.  “Our new threads are cutting-edge, cool, and a little dangerous.  No one’s going to want to mess with us.”

New alternate jersey

In lieu of their previous maple-leaf jersey, the Pistols unveiled a new third jersey that’s primarily black. In place of the “Pistols” wordmark that appears on the home and road jerseys, the jersey includes the team’s secondary logo – a gunsight with a capital “H” in the crosshairs.

“I really like the alts,” said D Raymond Smyth.  “They make us look like assassins, ready to take out the competition.”

Blackwood said that the team’s new look symbolized a new era of championship competition.  “We want our fans to know, and the world to know, that we’re going all in,” the owner said.  “We’re expecting big things from the team in the next few seasons.  We’re breaking out in a big way, and we want everyone to know about it.”

While the Pistols’ image overhaul is the biggest sartorial news of the offseason, a couple of other SHL teams also announced smaller refreshes:

  • The Seattle Sailors are brightening their accent color, going from spring green to a neon green.  “Between the Seahawks and the Eclipse,” said owner Gary Blum, referencing Seattle’s NFL and UBA teams, “neon green is a popular color around here, and we thought it would work for us too.”  In addition, the team is adding more black to their alternate uniforms, and are dropping the numbers on their sleeves.
  • The Michigan Gray Wolves are switching their home and alternate jerseys.  Now, their jersey with the wolf-and-moon logo is their primary home uniform, while the one with the “Gray Wolves” wordmark has been relegated to alternate status.  “Just looking at our merchandise sales, it’s clear that our fans love the moon logo,” said GM Tim Carrier.  “So we figured it was time for us to catch up.”  The “Gray Wolves” wordmark remains on the team’s road jerseys, however.  Also, the numbers on the back of the home and alternate jerseys have changed from white to red.

Hamilton Goes Canadian with New Uniforms

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.

New Hamilton third jersey

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.”

Michigan Hires Wright as Coach

Michigan Grey WolvesThe SHL coaching merry-go-round continues.  Last month, Martin Delorme left the Michigan Gray Wolves to become coach of the expansion Quebec Tigres.  Now, the Gray Wolves have now hired Hamilton Pistols head coach Ron Wright to replace Delorme.

“Needless to say, we’re thrilled,” said Michigan GM Tim Carrier.  “Martin obviously left big shoes to fill, but Ron is more than capable of filling them.  He’s the kind of experienced, smart, hard-working coach we’re looking for.  Ron Wright is a perfect fit with the Gray Wolves organization.”

Ron Wright
Ron Wright

The 62-year-old Wright has over 35 years of coaching experience, largely at the college level.  He is a defense-first coach, which makes him a good match with the Michigan roster.  At his introductory press conference on Friday, Wright seemed almost giddy about the chance to work with such a squad.

“Whenever we’d play against [the Gray Wolves], I’d just be fascinated,” said Wright.  “They were so tough, ferocious and disciplined at the same time, just something to behold.  I’d show my guys game film of them and I’d say, ‘We should be more like these guys.’  The idea that I’d be coaching these guys, the ones I’d held up as our model… I never even dreamed that.”

In addition to his reputation as a brilliant tactician, Wright is also known as a hard-nosed disciplinarian.  That latter quality led to multiple run-ins between the coach and his players in Hamilton, where he guided the Pistols to a 22-35-3 record last season.  There was also considerable friction between Wright and the Hamilton front office, and the coach was given permission to pursue other openings in the offseason.

“That was a tough situation all around,” admitted Wright.  “I could have done some things better; so could they.  My eyes are on the future and what we can achieve here in Michigan.”

The Gray Wolves started their inaugural season strong, bolting out to a 13-3-2 start.  But they were passed and ultimately beaten by the powerhouse Anchorage Igloos.  Despite finishing with the second-best record in the league, Michigan didn’t make it to the playoffs.  Given that Anchorage is strong on both ends of the ice, many observers figured that the Gray Wolves would need to become a more balanced team in order to contend.  Wright, however, said that he intends to double down on defense.

“This is a grind-it-out, hard-checking, hard-nosed team,” said Wright.  “Why mess with that identity?  We are who we are.  Who has a better defense than us?  Nobody.  Who has a better goalie than the Bear [Dirk Lundquist]?  Nobody.  That’s our foundation and our identity, and that’s what we’re going to build on.”

Igloos coach Sam Castor welcomed his new rival by sending a case of Vernor’s ginger ale to Wright with a note that read, “Welcome to the Wild West.  Look forward to beating you!  Warmest regards, Sam.”  Asked about Wright’s hiring, Castor smiled and said, “I love it!  Ron’s a great coach, and I’m sure he’ll do a great job.  If you’re going to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.  Next year’s going to be fun.”

Pistols owner Cory Blackwood, Jr. wished Wright well, saying: “Ronnie’s got what we wanted, and I’m not going to begrudge that.  I expect we’ll be just fine next season.”

It’s not known who the Pistols are targeting as Wright’s replacement. Blackwood said only that he was looking for a coach who was “in it for the long haul.  I don’t want to be having to look for another guy next year.”