In the most lackluster NHL logo reveal I have ever seen, the Ottawa Senators provided official confirmation today—via a bland media release—of a logo change that’s been rumored and leaked for quite some time now.
I’ll reserve judgment on what this all says about the organization, but I don’t think it’s lost on anyone in Ottawa at this point.
So yeah, the Sens are basically reverting to a version of their original logo, which dates back to their inception in 1992. As we’ve known all summer.
The team also announced that an “expanded new identity and overall uniform change” will be revealed prior to the upcoming NHL Draft on October 6. Of course, we’ve really already seen the new home sweater via a retail leak a couple weeks ago.
There are some minor updates—and I do mean minor. As in, you’d have to have studied the intricacies of NHL branding for 30 years to really pick up on them, kind of minor.
Having little else to talk about on this topic, I guess I can go into a little detail on the detail.
First, let’s play a round of Spot the Differences with the original versions of the logo. And... go!
Five years into their existence, the Senators made a few minor tweaks to their original primary logo:
- the team name was removed from the gold circle and replaced with laurel leaves;
- the laurel leaves on the centurion’s helmet were removed;
- and the centurion’s eye and mouth were very slightly modified.
Now that you’re more attuned to seeking out small differences, let’s compare the 1997 version with the new one released today.
You’re probably having to strain more to spot the changes, though I did address some of them when the logo first leaked back in July—mainly that the cape lining is now gold instead of red. There’s also been a minor adjustment to the helmet around the ear.
But what wasn’t visible in the original leaked logo were the modifications to the outline of the logo. It’s been evened out and softened up. The sharper corners around the crest of the centurion’s galea—that red headpiece—around now rounded.
These updates are fine. Whatever. Yet inexplicably, no attempt was made to clean up the details of the face or the laurel leaves—which they handled so well in the 2007 version of the centurion. I mean, look!
The lines are cleaner and bolder. The circle represents an “O.” And the shape of the centurion’s cape is inspired by the flag of Ottawa. Plus, the cape doesn’t stick out so far to the left that it creates weird centering issues for designers. What more could you ask? It’s really beautifully made.
So instead, we get a trip back to the ’90s.
This next part will really only annoy graphic designers, and it’s not pretty. So if you’re squeamish, look away.
If you’ve ever spent any time in Illustrator or any other vector graphics software, you’ll recognize these handles. If you’re a professional designer, you’re probably cringing at what you see. But this is, indeed, the skeleton of a logo in the National Hockey League.
Not to put too fine a point on this (vector pun!), but I’d like to show you another comparison.
I don’t think you need to have intimate knowledge of digital vector art to understand the elegance of the design on the left compared to the mess on the right.
On the left is an example of a laurel leaf from the 2007 logo. On the right is an example of a leaf from the new logo. In 2020.
I only point out this level of detail to demonstrate how little effort seems to have gone into Ottawa’s half-hearted rebrand. Given the amount of money that goes into branding and merchandise, it’s hard for me to understand this inattention to detail.
Anyway, if you’ve made it this far into the article, I would like to now welcome you to the bottom of the rabbit hole. Try to find your way back out and drop by again in about three weeks for the official reveal of the sweaters and the rest of the so-called “expanded new identity” that’s been promised.
All I can do is hope that this logo is a temporary placeholder and better things are on the way soon.
But I think we all know I’m just fooling myself.