An orca remains on the sweater, but not in the name of the company that controls the Vancouver Canucks.
The NHL team announced yesterday that its holding company will now be known as Canucks Sports and Entertainment rather than Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment. The Orca Bay name, in place since August of 1995, is still being used by former team owner John McCaw, who owns Seattle's Orca Bay Capital Corp.
Canucks president Chris Zimmerman said the team has long intended to change the name and planned on doing so as soon as a legal proceeding against team owner Aquilini Investment Group Inc. ran its course.
Zimmerman said the team wanted to keep "Canucks" in the name for the holding company, and didn't research whether fans felt positively or negatively toward Orca Bay. He said the new name will have some branding benefits because "Canucks" will now appear on all company items and because that brand should be identified with first-rate hockey throughout British Columbia.
"We went with the name that represents the most goodwill and the brand that's our most important asset," Zimmerman said. "There was no reason to create a second brand."
Earlier this month, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that Francesco Aquilini owned the team and did not have a partnership with two Vancouver businessmen who were suing for 50 per cent of the club.
Aquilini bought out McCaw in November of 2006 for total control of the Canucks and General Motors Place.
"Orca Bay was really, and still is, part of John McCaw's organization," Zimmerman said. "It's John's company's name."
Yesterday, former Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths, who was McCaw's partner when Orca Bay was formed, admitted he was sad about losing the name. He said Orca Bay was meant to reflect the Pacific Northwest, their mutual love of the ocean, and the fact that orcas move in groups, which was supposed to foster a family environment within the company.
But Griffiths added that it was never his intention to incorporate an orca into the team's logo, or have the orca name trump the team name.
"I personally didn't intend it to cannibalize the team," Griffiths said. "To see how it evolved, [dropping the name]is probably fine."