The CHL’s Minnesota Freeze have one of the most apt nicknames in sports. They play in Duluth, the northernmost city in one of America’s northernmost states. Sub-zero temperatures are not uncommon in the wintertime, and the city is frequently blanketed with substantial blizzards.
However, it’s been a particularly long winter in the Midwest, and freezing temperature and snow threats have continued to hang on even well into spring. Next week’s forecast calls for highs in the 30s and 40s and the potential for more snow. The seemingly endless chill convinced Minnesota GM Kent Rivers that it was time to take action.
“I’m not a superstitious person by nature,” said Rivers. “But I can’t help but notice that we’ve been up near the top of the standings all season, and that it’s been unseasonably cold. Obviously, we’re not going to start losing just to usher in spring, but if there’s something we can do to help, we’re up for it.”
In order to try to chase winter away, the Freeze changed their name for one game. On Sunday, they competed against the Baltimore Blue Crabs as the Minnesota Thaw. “I know our fans are ready for a little warmth around here, so at least they’ll find some inside the arena,” said Rivers.
In addition to the name change, Minnesota changed up their uniforms as well. Instead of dark blue, their threads were reddish-orange. In lieu of the typical “Freeze” wordmark in letters that appear to be made of snow-capped ice, the “Thaw” wordmark appeared to be melting, with puddles forming underneath.
In addition, the team changed up its playlist to feature songs focusing on heat. Tunes like “Hot Hot Hot” by Buster Poindexter and “Burn’ for You” by the Blue Oyster Cult allowed the fans to think warm. In between periods, the Jumbotron featured clips of Minnesota players dressed in beach wear, engaging in summer sports like swimming and sand volleyball.
To top it all off, all fans in attendance received a pair of Thaw-branded sunglasses, with the message “Think Hot!” emblazoned on the temples.
The promotion went over well with the winter-weary fans of Duluth. “For one night at least, I got to pretend it was summer,” said local fan Rick Schneider. “I know it’s going to be about 15 outside when I leave, so reality’s gonna be a slap in the face. But this was fun.”
Rivers stressed that the promotion was a one-night-only event. “We’re not changing our name for good, and we’re not going to wear the [Thaw] jerseys again,” the GM told reporters. “After all, we’re about to go to the playoffs! We’ll stick with what got us here.”