Finally, Johnny Canuck is getting his day on the front of a pro hockey sweater.
The Vancouver Canucks this week announced their American Hockey League affiliate, recently relocated from Utica, N.Y. to Abbotsford, B.C., would be known as the Abbotsford Canucks. The team is adopting the same name and colour scheme as the NHL’s Canucks and will play about an hour’s drive east of Vancouver.
Of course, the big news out of all this was that the logo the AHL Canucks would be using features Johnny Canuck with a toque on the noggin, a hockey stick in hand, and blue overalls over a green collared jacket.
“Through our name, we’re adding a new chapter to the story of the most passionate fans in hockey, while forging a new identity,” reads a message on the Abbotsford Canucks official web site. “The logo – you got it, Johnny’s back. We’re bringing back a historic friend from our past, ready to embody the spirit of the Fraser Valley. And our colours – Representing the land that surrounds us, the land that we’ll defend, and the land that we will proudly play for.”
Johnny Canuck is a Canadian folk hero, invented by newspaper cartoonists around the turn of the 20th Century and used to represent Canada or Canadians in general in a similar fashion as Uncle Sam is in the United States. Commonly shown today as a lumberjack, Mr. Canuck was originally shown in any number of fields of work including as a farmer or serving in the military. He was chosen as the inspiration for the Vancouver Canucks name when the team started up in the original Western Hockey League in the 1940s and carried over into the NHL when Vancouver was granted an expansion franchise for the 1970-71 season.
Johnny was used on the front of WHL Canucks sweaters in the early 1960s and was eventually reincarnated as part of a new logo launch by the NHL Canucks nearly 50 years later in 2007. Officially classified as their “tertiary logos”, a logo featuring Johnny within the letter “V” worn as a shoulder patch on the Canucks’ alternate uniform during the Reebok era from 2008 to 2017.
Speaking of uniforms, Abbotsford also showed off their new set. With the Johnny Canuck logo front and center, the Canucks will wear “Mountain White” as their light jersey and “Field Green” as their dark. Each jersey incorporates a striping style somewhat inspired by the uniforms worn during the Vancouver Canucks expansion season — on each arm the letter “A” for Abbotsford is cut into the stripes (Vancouver flipped this to form a “V” for Vancouver on their original design).
In addition to the aforementioned Field Green and Mountain White, the rest of the colours are Pacific Blue, Fraser Blue, and Valley Fog Grey.
“We’re thrilled to unveil Abbotsford’s new AHL brand,” said Francesco Aquilini, Chairman, Canucks Sports & Entertainment in the press release. “The Abbotsford Canucks will be an extension of our history, and a new identity for fans in the Fraser Valley to embrace. Today marks an important milestone. It brings us a big step closer to puck drop in the fall and an exciting inaugural season.”
“The Abbotsford Canucks’ brand reflects the long history, local connection and new opportunities that this team brings to our community,” added City of Abbotsford Mayor, Henry Braun. “I am looking forward to joining all of the fans in cheering on our new hometown team.”
The Abbotsford Canucks inaugural season will get underway this October and they will compete as the only Canadian-based team in the AHL’s Pacific Division. The City of Abbotsford was previously home to the Abbotsford Heat from 2009 to 2014; the Heat were the farm club of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, that franchise now plays out of Stockton, Calif. where they have since brought back the Heat name.