Five years ago, then-Chilliwack Bruins general manager Darrell May came to First Nations artist Stan Greene with an idea.
He wanted a secondary logo for his fledgling Western Hockey League franchise, something that would form a link between the Bruins and the rich First Nations heritage of this area.
“The team had some ideas on what they wanted, with the bear’s head and all,” Greene recalled. “I’ve been doing Salish art for 30 years or so, and they wanted me to put the two together.”
The first version was of the bear’s head alone, and that required some tinkering.
“They wanted something a bit more aggressive,” he explained. “So I emphasized a little bit more on the brow and a little bit more on the teethwork, getting more snarl in there.”
Greene, an avid hockey fan, felt something else was missing.
“I told them, ‘We could always put some hockey sticks behind there,’” he said. “We do that with our paddles when we do a design for our canoe clubs. They liked that idea a lot.”
Through the first four seasons, Greene’s logo has adorned the shoulders of Chilliwack’s home and road jerseys.
At tomorrow night’s home opener, it moves into the spotlight as the central logo on Chilliwack’s brand new third jerseys.
Featuring a colour scheme heavy on burgundy and trimmed in gold, black and white, the jerseys will be worn at the home opener, and at various times throughout the season.
Greene is thrilled to see his artwork move into a place of prominence.
“Oh, it’s awesome,” he said with a grin. “I’ve been a fan of the game since I was a kid in the 1960s. It’s nice to have pride for your local team.”
Much of the home opener centres around local First Nations, with several events planned as a tribute.
“The first thing is the tailgate party that takes place beforehand, running from 3:30-6:30 p.m.,” said Bruins director of marketing and community relations, Barry Douglas.
The tailgate party will feature live entertainment by The Odds, The Stirs, Inez, Quinn Patterson and Jason Guill.
“There will be food and beverages themed around First Nations, so it’ll be a nice party outside,” Douglas added. “Before puck-drop, we’ll have the building and team blessed for the coming season by First Nation’s representative Kelsey Charlie. And inside the building, we’ll have various displays themed around First Nations night.
The third jerseys worn on opening night will be auctioned off during the game.
Douglas is looking forward to the fan reaction.
“It (the logo) stands out right away as something that you won’t see anywhere else in the world,” Douglas said. “It works great with the colour scheme. It fits perfectly and I think it will be very well received.”
On the ice, the Bruins play their first home game and third game overall in the 2010-11 season, welcoming a divisional rival.
The Blazers figure to be one of the teams Chilliwack battles with all season, and as the old saying goes, two points in October could just as much as two points in March.
The Bruins went 3-3-0-2 against Kamloops last season, with a record of 2-1-0-1 on home ice.
Catch a game report in Tuesday’s Progress.