- Saskatchewan Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz after his team was eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday
If there’s one constant in the history of the Saskatchewan Shockers, it’s their record of promotions gone wrong. The litany of failed promos is nearly endless: the time they put a sumo wrestler in goal, they time that angry fans littered the ice with off-key kazoos, the children’s books full of errors and obscenities, the T-shirts that featured owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz’s face where the team’s logo was supposed to be, or the team rally song that included a line calling the town of Saskatoon boring.
The common theme in all of these disasters: Doofenshmirtz. The owner’s combination of heedless enthusiasm and disinterest in details leads to a lot of creative ideas that tend not to pan out as expected. According to team’s sources, most of the team’s promotions are dreamed up by Doofenshmirtz himself, and he is often also involved in their execution, turning to less-than-competent relatives and friends to help carry them out.
No matter how many times these promotions fail, however, the owner keeps coming up with new ones. Recently, the Shockers offered their fans another Doofenshmirtz-planned giveaway: “Shock Boppers.” These featured a pair of glow-in-the-dark lightning bolts, connected by springs to a headband. Each fan received a Shock Bopper upon entering.
Between the first and second periods, the team dimmed the lights at Potash Arena so that the fans could see their Shock Boppers glowing. As the fans rocked out to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” the seating bowl was filled with undulating lighting bolts. It was a pretty neat moment, and the team later posted a video of it on their Instagram account.
Sounds like a successful giveaway, right? Well, it was… until a few days later, when fans began posting angry comments on the Instagram videos. It seems that the glow-in-the-dark paint on the Shock Boppers was flaking off, leading to messes at best and hospital visits at worst. Some fans complained about coming home to find flecks of glowing paint all over their carpets and furniture. Others told of take pets or young children to the emergency room after they swallowed the paint flakes. One irate mother threatened to sue the Shockers for child endangerment.
After initially trying to resolve the issues individually, the team eventually realized that the problems were widespread. It seems that Doofenshmirtz outsourced the manufacture of the Shock Boppers to a firm in his native Drusselstein, one reportedly run by his cousin. “Yeah, in Drusselstein, quality control isn’t… really a thing,” the owner said.
Within a couple of days, the Shockers announced a recall of the Shock Boppers. Fans who returned the giveaway received a credit for merchandise at the team store. This failed to mollify fans who had to deal with cleaning or medical bills as a result of the paint flaking off; the team arranged settlements with those fans.
Has Doofenshmirtz learned his lesson? On the one hand, he did say that he planned to let his marketing team handle the execution of future promotions. On the other hand, he vowed that “I’ve got a bunch of great ideas that I’m working on. Just wait and see!”
In the last couple of seasons, the Saskatchewan Shockers have earned a reputation as a young team with promise that can’t quite get over the hump. And since the SHL’s beginning, Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz has had a reputation as an… unconventional thinker. Those two narratives intersected this week, as Doofenshmirtz reportedly resorted to mind-control techniques in order to improve his team’s play.
“We’ve seen some weird stuff around here,” said longtime Saskatchewan D Chris “Lightning” Oflyng, “but this one probably takes the cake.”
Apparently, Doofenshmirtz dreamed up his latest idea when he read an article about a baseball team bringing in a motivational speaker to inspire the players with the power of positive thinking. According to sources in the Shockers front office, Doofenshmirtz felt that such a tactic might help his club take the next step.
Rather than hiring an actual motivational speaker, however, the owner decided to do the motivating himself. Last week, Shockers coach Morris Thompson arrived at the arena to find a package in his office. It contained a pair of videotapes, with a note from the owner instructing Thompson to play them for the team before the morning skate.
Thompson did as he was asked (although he had to find a VCR first). He gathered the players in the locker room and played the first tape. This consisted of a continuous loop of Doofenshmirtz’s spinning, sunglasses-clad head chanting “My name is Doof and you’ll do what I say. Whoop whoop!” over and over.
The players watched in stunned silence for about a minute before Thompson ejected the tape. “I figured he probably gave me the wrong tape,” the coach said. “Although why he’d want one like that, I don’t know.”
The second tape featured the owner in cowboy garb, singing a country-western song. This seemed more promising, although on closer inspection the song contained lyrics such as “You’ll be my obedient mindless slaves, and nobody will blame me/ Because you’ll yodel-odel-odel-odel-obey me.”
This time, several players got annoyed, and Thompson stopped the tape. He promptly informed GM Cooper Mathews that if the owner ever provided tapes like that again, Thompson would resign.
“It felt to a lot of the guys like he was trying to hypnotize us or something, and that’s not cool,” said Oflyng.
“That song was horrible,” added C Elliott Rafferty. “I mean, it was catchy, but the lyrics were way too on the nose.”
Matthews apologized to the team, and made clear that the idea was Doofenshmirtz’s alone. “At the end of the day, he wants us to win, and that’s what we all want,” the GM said. “But I don’t think that’s the best way to go about it.”
“Come on, what’s the big deal?” Doofenshmirtz said to reporters. “People pay good money to go on stage and have a hypnotist make them bark like a dog or act like a chicken or whatever. I was just trying to brainwash my guys a little into playing good hockey, that’s all. It’s not like I was trying to make them my minions in some plot to take over the world or anything. I mean, who would even think of that?”
Earlier this week, the Portland Bluebacks revealed the uniforms for their debut season after relocating from Seattle. But the Bluebacks aren’t the only team that will be donning new togs in 2020. Several other SHL teams are modifying their look, in ways both small and large.
The biggest changes came from the Kansas City Smoke, who also rolled out a new logo this season. When the Smoke took the ice for their debut season, their logo was mocked by KC ‘cue heads for omitting a key element: smoke. “One of the consistent pieces of feedback we got on the logo was that it was about grilling, not smoking,” said team president Eddie Whitmore. “I’d point out that plenty of people smoke ‘cue in their backyard kettle grill, but what we kept hearing was that it wasn’t real ‘cue. So we decided to go a different direction.”
The Smoke drew up a new logo that features wisps of smoke, and they put the logo front and center on their uniforms, replacing the old “SMOKE” wordmark that looked like it was being licked by flames.
In addition to that change, they updated their jersey templates with a more modern look that replaces the previous diagonal-stripe-based motif. The team kept its existing color scheme of gray, black, and burnt red.
“We figured: as long as we’re changing the logo, why not go ahead and freshen it all up?” Whitmore said. “This gives us a uniform that can stand the test of time, that our fans can wear with pride as we build toward our goal of winning the Vandy.”
The Smoke and the Bluebacks are the only teams making wholesale uniform changes for the coming season, but two other teams are debuting eye-catching alternate uniforms.
The New York Night, aiming to remain on trend, ditched their previous silver alternates for a dramatic gradient look that changes from purple to black.
Star RW Rick “The Stick” Nelson was one of the players who modeled the new sweater at the unveiling, and he was audibly impressed. “Damn,” he was heard to exclaim, “these threads look almost as fine as I do!”
McKay predicted that the new jerseys would become the top sellers in the SHL. After the unveiling, at least, his words seemed prophetic: local sporting goods stores indicated that the jerseys were flying off the shelves.
The Saskatchewan Shockers, meanwhile, did make changes to their home and road jerseys, simplifying the striping pattern on the socks and sleeves. But that change was not what had people talking after Saskatchewan rolled out its new look. Rather, it was the new third jersey the left mouths agape.
For the past couple of years, the Shockers have sported an electric-blue third jersey that they generally wore on Sundays and holidays. It was eye-catching, but in the same template as their home and road jersey. Their new third jersey, however, doesn’t match their usual template – or any other, for that matter.
The new jersey is half yellow, half blue, split diagonally with a white lightning bolt. Immediate reactions were mixed: some fans on social media dubbed it the “Franken-jersey” while others noted its resemblance to the Grateful Dead’s logo.
According to Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz, the polarizing look was inspired by some of the NHL’s uniform designs from the ‘90s. “In those days, it was all about trying new stuff and moving the merch. Yeah, some people think those styles were a complete disaster, but nobody ever forgets them! And they’re not going to forget us either!”
Saskatchewan’s players regarded the new uniforms a bit warily. “It’s going to take some getting used to,” said LW Troy Chamberlain. “It’s definitely different than what other teams are wearing.”
“We’re not going to be able to sneak up on anyone in these,” quipped C Lars Karlsson.
Other smaller changes for 2020 include:
- Last year, the Michigan Gray Wolves switched from using the “Gray Wolves” wordmark to the wolf-and-moon logo as its primary home jersey. This season, the Wolves are making the same change to their road jerseys. “We wanted to unify our look,” said GM Tim Carrier. Also, the numbers on the back of the jersey have changed from blue to red.
- The Washington Galaxy have updated their logo, but their uniforms will remain the same as last year.