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An Easily Overlooked Detail About the Whalers’ Logo

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After I published yesterday’s obituary for Peter Good, who designed the Hartford Whalers’ logo, I heard from longtime reader Doug Brei, who pointed out a subtle but important detail about the logo. And no, it’s not about the hidden “H”! I’ll let Doug explain:

The original Peter Good logo is hands-down the best logo in sports history. Period. But it always bothered me that the Whalers never actually wore Good’s original design on their uniforms. Good’s design was the team’s official primary logo, but that’s not the version they wore on their white home sweaters. For some reason they added a green outline to the blue whale tail and a blue outline to the green “W” [as seen in the photo at the top of this page]. Neither outline was included in Good’s original design.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison, so you can see what Doug is referring to:

As you can see, they also adjusted the shape of the tail. But as Doug rightly points out, the outlining is the real issue here, because it undercuts the beauty of the “H.” With the green outline defining top of the H and the blue outline defining the bottom, the hidden letter looks less cohesive and seems more coincidental than intentional. In the original version, the H feels like its own thing; in the jersey version, it feels more like a composite of mismatched parts.

Obviously, there are other teams out there with logo inconsistencies (think Tigers, Yankees, etc.). But those other mismatched logos feel more like potayto/potahto distinctions, while the two Whalers logos feel qualitatively different, because the colored outlining really changes the perception of the H (or at least it does for Doug and for me).

I confess that I either forgot about this distinction or else was unaware of it to begin with. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years looking at Good’s original design by itself — way more time than I’ve spent looking at Whalers jerseys or game photos — so if I was ever aware of the colored outlines, I think that awareness became overwhelmed by my immersion in the original version.

Doug continues: “Ironically, the retired number banners hanging in the rafters of the old Hartford Civic Center feature the non-outlined logo, except for the Gordie Howe No. 9 banner, which features the sweater logo (and an outline on his number).” Sure enough:

The weird thing about all this is that the original logo — the one without the outlining — was consistently used on team publications, ticket stubs, pennants, and more, even though that version didn’t appear on the jerseys:

So the jersey version seems to have appeared only on the jersey. I wonder why they made those adjustments to Good’s original design, and why they used it on the jersey but nowhere else? Hmmmm.

Anyway: Big thanks to Doug for bringing this up, and for allowing us to spend a bit more time admiring the wonderful work of Peter Good.



ITEM! New Premium Column

For this week’s Premium article on Substack, I interviewed Maria Villotti, whose pandemic project was to create an embroidery sampler of all 32 NHL team logos. It’s a fantastic piece of work, and I really enjoyed discussing it with her.

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack (which will also give you access to my full Substack/Bulletin archives). Thanks!



ITEM! Purp Walk Raffle

Purple Amnesty Day is now just 12 days away (you can see the rundown of this year’s festivities here), and reader Ron Ruelle has upped the ante by generously donating funds for a purple-inclusive Uni Watch membership card.  The lucky winner will be able to order their card only on May 16, and the card must include purple.

This will be a two-day raffle. No entry restrictions. To enter, send an email to the raffle in-box by 8pm Eastern tomorrow, May 5. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Monday. Big thanks to Ron for sponsoring this one!



Culinary Corner: The Annual Derby Pie Edition

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Two days from now is the first Saturday of May, which means it’s time for the Kentucky Derby. And that means I’ll be making the dish I always make for the Derby: a derby pie, which is a lot like a pecan pie but made with walnuts and chocolate chips.

Derby pie is super-delicious and easy to make. Here’s how to do it:

  1. If you know how to make pie crust, make some dough and position it in a 9-inch pie pan; if you don’t know how or just can’t be bothered, get yourself a frozen 9-inch pie shell.
  2. Set your oven to 350º. While it’s heating up, get a big mixing bowl and beat together four eggs, a cup of light corn syrup, 3/4 cup of light brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of melted butter. Then add 3 tablespoons of bourbon (or maybe a smidge more than that, if you’re so inclined), a tablespoon of vanilla extract, a tablespoon of flour, 6 ounces of chocolate chips, and a cup of chopped walnuts.
  3. Mix all of that together, pour it into the pie dough or frozen shell, and pop it into the oven for an hour. It’ll puff up high like a soufflé, but it’ll settle back down while it cools, which you should allow it to do for an hour or so. This up/down motion usually results in some cracks in the top of the pie, which used to annoy me, but now I’ve grown to like it:

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, the chocolate chips always sink to the bottom (I guess they’re less buoyant than the walnuts), resulting in a nice two-tone effect:

It’s traditional to serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream, although I don’t bother with that — the pie is rich enough on its own. Less traditional and even less necessary, but nonetheless delicious, is this bourbon sauce, which is pretty much the bomb.

Trust me, there won’t be any leftovers.




Can of the Day

Lots going on here — maybe a bit too much — but you know I’m a sucker for that color scheme. And look at that crazily angled hyphen!

Comments (54)

    One thing I loved about the old Hartford Whalers logo is their old minor league team, The Binghamton Whalers, used the logo on it’s side. Brilliant!

    I went to college at SUNY-Binghamton and attended many B-Whalers games in the mid-1980s. I *loved* how they repurposed the Hartford logo!

    Additional fun fact: The B-Whalers’ games were broadcast on local radio station WAAL, which was known as “the Whale.”

    the classic rock station in Hartford is called 102.9 The Whale, even though the call letters are WDRC. It used to be an oldies station called “Big D 103”, but when they flipped i guess they thought playing off the nostalgia factor would be a good idea.

    As a kid growing up in the Binghamton area in the 80s, I went to a number of games with my dad. I always loved the team’s aesthetic, but even more that they played “Brass Bonanza” after goals and had fans do the “Whaler Rumble” — really, just shaking your butt.

    My dad worked in auto sales at the time and wound up getting to know players from the Whalers and, later, the Rangers. A non-zero amount of used equipment made its way into my house, and I still have a plastic mini stick in my house.

    My favorite team, in terms of leaning on local flavor, were the short lived BC Icemen of the United Hockey League. While the hockey wasn’t great, the logo was designed by area native Johnny Hart, and it was memorable.

    Last but not least, the current team (the Black Bears) unapologetically use the colors of Binghamton University. It’s always been a great minor league hockey town!

    Best logo ever: Whalers or the Brewers ball-in-glove? Close between those two, but I can’t think of any others I’d consider.

    I am surely in the minority, but I am not a fan of the Brewers’ ball in glove. As a kid I didn’t pick up on the MB within the logo, and as kid who loved uniforms and logos it turned me off that a baseball team’s logo was just what appeared to be a baseball glove. That dislike has stuck around even now that I know the great use of the letters. There are some versions of it where the MB is more pronounced and obvious, which I like better.

    I’m with you Greg-I’ve never liked the Brewers’ ball-in-glove logo. As a kid in the ‘80s, I thought it was clever but uncool and now, even with the navy color (which makes it slightly better), I still think it looks silly. It doesn’t look like or feel like a sports logo.

    But the Whalers’ logo is an all-time classic. I’ve always liked it.

    Gasp! I just assumed pretty much everyone loved it. Hey, if you guys aren’t going to give the Brewers logo it’s proper respect, I’ll take my ball (in glove) and go home.

    You are in a minority, but I’m with you despite being a Brewers fan. It’s a very clever design! But it’s a terrible uniform logo for the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s a fun and witty visual pun, but the only things it actually communicates are that there is a team in the city of Myrtle Beach or possibly the province of Manitoba that plays the sport of baseball and has no distinctive or relevant team name or identity. Plus the team mostly has worn it as a ghosted blue-on-blue cap logo, which is an objectively bad way to do a cap logo regardless of how fun and irreverent the design is. Ball-in-glove would be a terrific team logo not worn on uniforms, along the lines of the Yankees or Dodgers team logos, or a fantastic secondary mark that maybe gets worn as a sleeve patch, but as a primary uniform element and cap logo, it’s a bad design for its purpose any way you judge quality of design.

    Ball-in-glove is a fun visual pun. The Hartford Whalers logo is an excellent work of design. BiG is the design equivalent of a Hagar the Horrible weekday strip that you almost sort of half-smile at; Whalers logo is a Calvin & Hobbes Sunday strip that makes you laugh out loud and also sort of cry multiple times while reading it.

    I don’t really agree with the logic of your comparison (and yes I know it’s tongue-in-cheek). What about the Yankees, White Sox, Giants, (I could go on but you get the point) logos give any indication of what city they play in? What about the Jays’ logo tells you that they’re from Toronto, other than the maple leaf that indicates it’s in Canada?

    those are my two favorites. i was also a fan of the Montreal Expos logo with the “elb” worked into the M.

    Can we formally call these logos “Easter Eggs” where there is something hiding in plain sight that you can’t unsee. I am not talking about hidden meanings (e.g. the number of veins in the Maple Leaf=number of Stanley Cups) or Nike corporate storytelling, but deliberate subliminal use of negative space (e.g. The FedEx arrow, Wendy’s “mom”, Hershey’s Kisses kiss, etc.) So the only Big 4 logos that I can think qualify are:
    -The Whalers’ hidden H
    -The Brewers’ MB
    -The Golden Knights’ V
    -The Capitals’ Capitol Building in the Weagle
    -The Wizard’s beard in the original Wizards’ logo
    -The Wizards’ Washington Monument in the new “ball” logo
    -The Hurricanes’ North Carolina outline in the double flag logo

    I’m sure I am missing others.

    Vancouver Canucks’ Stick-in-Rink logo:


    And well, if in Canada and we are looking at “Big 5” if counting CFL. The old Delta logo for the Montreal Alouettes:


    I never knew an Alouette was a bird. Then again, I never knew a Nordique was an elephant ;)

    My personal favorite negative space logo is the Houston Gamblers, though it’s a bit clunky:


    …and the short-lived WHA Michigan Stags logo is so good, though not BiG good:


    For you list of Easter Egg Sports Logos, you must not forget the hidden bear in the Minnesota Wild primary logo.

    Without the hidden bear, it just wouldn’t have the same effect: link

    Space Needle at the top of the Kraken’s alternate anchor logo… The “E” in the Eagles logo (it drives me crazy when high schools steal this logo and reverse it – you’re turning the hidden “E” into a “3”)… The Falcons logo shaped like an “F”… The “M” on the horse’s head in the Mav’s logo… The underlining of “win” in Twins… There was an old one where the “I: in Islanders pointed to where Nassau Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum was on Long Island, but I don’t think it was updated after the move to UBS… Washington State spelling out WSC… The Carolina Panthers logo allegedly shaped like both Carolinas

    A couple more:
    Minnesota Wild entire woodland scene with North Star inside the wildcat (or is it a bear or a wolf) head
    Dallas Mavericks M on the horse
    Milwaukee Bucks M on the Bucks neck and the basketball in the antlers
    Diamondbacks alternate db snake head logo

    Panthers logo is in the shape of the Carolinas.
    The Falcons logo is in the shape of an F

    No hidden easter eggs or fun stuff, but I’ve always thought the Milwaukee Admirals logo is among the best just to look at.

    Fully agree that the Whalers logo is the best sports logo. It works for any sport, but it always really felt like a baseball cap logo to me, I guess because that subset of logos, more than other sports or types, feature stylized letters.
    I also somehow never noticed the negative space H until I started reading uni watch, and it is such a great logo that even without picking up on that wonderful detail I still always thought it to be the best.
    I also wonder how much the colors make the logo? Green is so rarely used, much less the green and blue combo. When I think about it rendered in other colors I find myself not liking it as much.

    I’m thinking the outlining of the elements of the Whaler’s logo may be more indicative of where design is now.

    That is, currently we are in an era of flat design with little ornamentation. For example, Audi’s logo went from faux-3D to flat, BMW did the same, and other logo designs have trended in the simpler direction (Starbucks, Buick, Toblerone, etc.). The outline on the Whaler’s logo therefore sticks out to us especially since the non-outlined version was also regularly used.

    (This is an unproven conjecture but I wanted to throw it out there.)


    I read an interesting article about this a few years back. Apparently organizations are converting to smaller, simpler logos to be better viewed as profile images on social media, or app icons on smart phones. They used Burger King as a primary example – the round logo introduced in the early ’00s had more colors and wasn’t straight. The new (old) logo was recognizable and easy to see in on Twitter. I don’t think any of us who follow design ever really would’ve expected technology to have an impact like that, but it has been huge over the past few years.

    The green jersey’s had it logo all white outlined in blue, so for the white they wanted to have outline’s on the white jersey as well so the solution was reverse outlines since white was the background. I think the H reads fine on either.

    The 90s jerseys would have a more consistent logo since they surrounded it with the gray holding shape.

    Very sharp eye to notice the difference in the tails. A de-tail, so to speak. It is one of my favorite logos (with or without the outlines and even with the addition of gray) but the non outlined version is truly a cut above the rest.

    A found a photo recently of the Mariners’ uniform which is supposedly from the 1981 season. It features an upward-pointing trident which I haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s not on the Dressed to the Nines database and it doesn’t appear on Chris Creamer’s site. Does anyone know what this is about?


    I have a baseball card somewhere in my collection of Ron Roenicke batting with an upside-down Mariners logo.

    Combining this comment with the comment about the B-Whalers – I love how the Everett Aquasox (Mariner’s Class A team) uses the Mariner trident sideways as an “E”.


    I’m sure Easton doesn’t mind it either; without the barbs on the trident, very similar to their logo.

    I wonder if the logo outlines were originally added because they simply needed a way to sew the logo onto the jersey, and decided contrasting colors would be neat. Then it just stuck around…

    But what I super super don’t understand is the inconsistency in the crossbar of the hidden H. Or said differently, the different heights of the middle stem of the W. If you look at the retired numbers picture, #2 and #19 have it right, so the H crossbar is right in the middle. #9 is close but still not right. Outlined or not, the others, including the jerseys, have an H with a high crossbar and makes it frustratingly imperfect.

    No wonder they moved!

    One thing to note with the trim on the logo for the jerseys. This matched how the numbers looked. The green numbers were trimmed in blue on the white jersey. The white numbers trimmed in blue on the green jersey. Wonder if it was done to have some visual consistency with the jersey numbers?

    I love this logo (always have), but I have always despised the team name. I wished that they had dropped the “R” and just called themselves the Whales. I’ve never understood the cerebration of killing animals. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, I just think it’s something somber. The logo with the harpoon going through the W was extra tasteless… in my opinion.
    One could claim that patriots killed people and cowboys have roughed up some cattle, etc. This feels different. Whalers feels more direct.

    This is actually why they redesigned their original logo (link), they felt like having a harpoon celebrated killing whales!

    Actually, they changed the logo when they changed their league, colors and geographic designation of their team name. The Bruins didn’t want an NHL team designated as “New England”, so the NHL mandated that they change the name to the Hartford Whalers, thus prompting the logo change.

    Although it would be nice to believe, I’m not so sure they were environmentally concerned enough to ditch the harpoon at the time, or I suppose they would have changed their nickname too.

    My suspicion is that it feels different than others because we had a history of excessive over-whaling, unsustainable to the point that it created long term damage to the population numbers. Fortunately many populations are on the rise again and getting healthier. Nothing wrong with being a Whaler by trade, and it has regional significance, we just have a knack for being viciously greedy in so many industries.

    Somewhat correct. It’s been know for a while that whales are highly intelligent, social, and emotional creatures. It’s not just about over-hunting.

    I have always felt the same way. Whales are super-intelligent animals and we’ve known for a long time that killing them is extremely unethical. It’s not the same as raising poultry or cattle for food.

    I saw the home uniforms as those of a blue and green team, while the road set were strictly green. What if they’d gone with a blue and white logo and blue breezers?

    I think part of the problem with the jersey logo is that the cross of the H is higher than in the main logo. That makes it harder to see the H in the jersey logo.

    (Apologies if someone else said that and I missed it.)

    The green jerseys with blue outlines were better.

    The last version with the grey was horrendous. The H was totally mangled.


    Even the green sweaters would have looked better if they had used the original Peter Good logo instead of the white tail & W with blue outline that they chose.

    Check out this link to my rudimentary concept on the left and the real sweater on the right. Which do you prefer?: link

    Even the Hurricanes RR was less satisfying…but it’s great that they now celebrate their Hartford history:

    Usually when we see something like this its a case of “one more bumper sticker” as trim and piping and stripes and geegaws get added to a uniform over time. The uniform gradually drifts away from the original design. This one is unusual because it was like that on Day One of the uniform.

    Maybe that’s why it went unnoticed, because there was never a change in the on-ice product to draw our attention to it?

    Also – I would vote for the 1992 redesign as the worst redesign in league history. There’s two dozen things wrong with that uniform but putting a white outline around the logo and then putting the whole thing on a grey background is just awful.

    Ahh, yes…it’s Derby Pie Time – thanks for the reminder Paul!

    I was fortunate to have some of Paul’s Derby Pie back in 2011. That was the year Animal Kingdom was the victor, and Paul was surrounded by my two dogs (Adam and Gordon – RIP) and three cats Cappy and Boochie – RIP, and Gloria – still kickin).
    Still can’t listen to Wire’s “Pink Flag” album without thinking about ol’ Gordo. Hope the same goes for Paul.

    Apparently, the Carolina Hurricanes use the correct jersey logo in their throwbacks, but with a single color outline.

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