Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Toronto hath no fury like a Calgarian scorned

In case you missed it, there's been an awesome development in the Canadian Women's Hockey League. Calgary's team (formerly known as Team Alberta and, later, the Alberta Honey Badgers) has changed its name to the Calgary Inferno.

The Toronto Furies still have the coolest name, but they're falling behind in the race for best image. That shortcoming is due, in part, because they didn't take my advice and introduce this jersey as their official uniform.

This jersey seriously needs more ice time!

Last month, the newly-branded Calgary Inferno unveiled their new logo, and it is spectacular!

I'm not a huge fan of the "n" turning into a hockey stick. It's a bit too Washington Capitals for my liking. However, that ostentatious flourish is balanced by the subtle way that the negative space inside the "o" forms the province of Alberta. Despite changing its name to reflect its city of operation, the team has managed to assert its status as Alberta's team nonetheless.

Like the Toronto Furies and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Calgary Inferno have a partnership with the Calgary Flames. The NHL club will promote the team and thereby help them get more exposure in a vibrant hockey market. Presumably in honour of that partnership, the anonymous woman in the logo has flaming hair over her right shoulder. The fiery hair, of course, is reminiscent of the Calgary Flames' logo. Thus the design rather cleverly represents the Flames as the Inferno's right-hand men.

So who or what exactly is the woman in the logo? I haven't found any details about what she's supposed to represent, so it's up to us to speculate. Horror-film nerds might take the women's hockey mask as a sign that she's some sort of hell-spawned, female version of Jason Voorhees. 

Meanwhile, comic-book geeks might interpret her appearance as somewhat reminiscent of Dark Phoenix from the "X-Men" comics. The latter interpretation might seem more persuasive since Dark Phoenix was once a member of the "Hell Fire Club" and "inferno" denotes the fires of hell.

Of course, if the team wanted to evoke the X-Men, it should have used this logo instead.

Personally, I'd rather focus on the mythological and chthonic implications of the word "inferno." In Greek and Roman mythology, there were a group of underworld spirits called Empusae who, like the lady in the logo, had flaming hair. They were also said to be like vampires.

However, they're not like Count Daniel Alfredsson. (I'm reusing this pic because Halloween.) 

What's interesting about the Empusae is that Hecate often sent them to terrify travelers. They'd frighten an unsuspecting trekker with their infernal appearance and reputation for snacking on humans. In a hockey context, Calgary's use of Empusae expresses the team's intention to make their home arena hell-on-earth for visiting teams.   

This rebranding is significant to the league as a whole as one third of CWHL teams are now represented with hellish imagery. That number could rise to half of the league if Quebec's team changed its name from Montreal Stars to Montreal Morning Stars, which has Luciferean implications. I should also note that Alberta's team might have been hellish to begin with if "honeybadger" was actually a euphemistic term for succubus.

Anyway, Toronto's and Calgary's chthonic team names not only assert each club's ferociousness. They also continue a great tradition in women's hockey. Decades ago, an Ontario team staged a preemptive strike against gender stereotypes by naming their women's hockey club the Don Mills Satan's Angels. It's great to see Toronto and Calgary picking up that badass torch. In doing so, each team signals that, while some NHL teams strive to play with truculence and pugnacity, CWHL clubs aspire to play with hell fire and brimstone!