The Unnamed NWHL Toronto Expansion Team has officially been named the Toronto Six, and I have to say that it certainly rolls off the tongue a lot easier than “Unnamed NWHL Toronto Expansion Team.” You can watch the full announcement video below.
But I wanted to dig deeper, because I have a longstanding tradition of seriously reviewing critical team decisions about branding and appearance and analyzing their meanings. You’ll believe me, too, because you didn’t click the hyperlink.
I’m not a design expert by any means. I know stuff about the league, but I’m not familiar enough with stats to consider myself expert-level. Specifically NWHL design, however, is something I can claim some knowledge of. In fact, team design is largely uncharted territory in the field of women’s hockey journalism and since I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who’s written about it more than once, I’m the leading expert in the world. The universe, even. No big deal. So with that in mind, here are my letter grades for Toronto’s name, color, and logos. And because I’m feeling generous, I’ll even give an overall grade at the end.
There’s a lot of hidden meaning behind the name, which means there’s a lot to love about it. In fact, there’s so much to love that I’m forcing myself to break down the meaning in a list so I don’t accidentally write a 50-page dissertation on the name alone. Without further ado:
- The city of Toronto itself: Have you ever wondered why Drake’s fourth studio album was originally titled Views from the 6? According to Drake himself in a 2016 Tonight Show interview, it’s a nickname for Toronto inspired by both the local phone area codes 416 and 647 and six municipalities that made up Metropolitan Toronto prior to 1998. Essentially, this is a reference to the city’s identity and history.
- The six players on the ice: As you may know, a team typically has six players on the ice at a time in a game of hockey, so that’s your first double meaning.
- The sixth team in the NWHL: First came the Founding Four, and then the Minnesota Whitecaps joined to make five, and now the sixth NWHL team is literally called the Six, which feels fitting.
- The six legs of an insect: I mean, maybe? I came up with this theory, but I’m fairly critical of it. Maybe they admire their strength, diversity, ability to fly, etc.
There are elements besides the meaning that I like about the name, too. It’s short, and I’m a fan of singular team names. I don’t really have a functionally good reason for that— I just think they tend to sound cool. Utah Jazz. Washington Spirit. Miami Heat. Minnesota Wild. the singular method tends to be good, formulaically (which may or may not be a word).
The gold is fantastic. I have zero problems with the gold part of this color scheme. It’s a royal color for a team that, based on even the small group of players who have already signed, is probably going to rule this league come October. It’s a color with a lot of personality. According to the official NWHL Twitter:
“The gold represents the high standards set in Canadian Women’s Hockey and the levels of excellence @TheTorontoSix are committed to establishing on and off the ice.”
The red is fine. It works. I was hoping for a color that we haven’t seen in the league yet, but this works. Something about the combination feels a little old-fashioned, but that’s not always a bad thing. But please consider some of the options I’d been hoping for: purple, royal blue, forest green, lavender, maroon, salmon (I’m just curious about how it would look, okay). One thing I will say for the red, though, is that it adds a fun red-blue dichotomy to what I hope is an emerging Toronto-Buffalo rivalry.
This next part comes with some personal bias, so take it with a grain of salt. I understand that it’s a matter of preference, but unless logos are an animal or something that wouldn’t look cool head-on, I prefer them to be symmetrical. What if I’m in a situation where I need to draw them someday? I’m not very good at drawing, but symmetry helps. I also think that when you look at it for three hours straight like I have it starts to look kind of like a unicycle. Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a little bit confusing, but I do look forward to seeing people take that in creative directions.
It also, hear me out, looks like what WALL-E’s side profile would look like if WALL-E’s primary shape was a circle instead of a square. I hate to contribute to the Disney propaganda machine, but hear me out:
Again, I’ve been staring at this logo for three hours.
But it does gain points (in my largely inconsistent and inexplicable grading system) for incorporating a ton of elements into a fairly simple design. You’ve got a T (for Tim Horton’s, presumably), and an O (for Ontario?), and a six (see paragraph four).
The name is by far my favorite element of the team branding, because it’s fun and a clever tribute to the city. The colors and and logo aren’t what I would have chosen, but to be fair, I’m not in charge of an NWHL team and that’s probably a good thing.
But even so, I think these elements fit together very coherently and give us a strong sense of what this new team has in mind for its identity. And when it comes down to it, I’m pretty sure that’s the point of team branding. Still hoping for royal blue or purple jerseys in the near future, but this design gets the job done pretty well.