Minnesota Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka admitted to feeling queasy as he stood inside Aldrich Arena the night of January 22nd, 1998. At the time, Majka was in charge of the Wild's marketing department…correction, the Minnesota hockey team's marketing department.
Before that night, the "Wild" nickname hadn't existed. Majka, and a small group of Minnesota Hockey Ventures Group employees were led by branding consultant Corky Hall in a lengthy process of picking the nickname. From over 13,000 submissions (which, back then, came in the form of emails, letters and faxes) from Minnesota hockey fans, there was a lot of clamoring to resurrect the North Stars nickname. A trademark issue with the NHL made that an impossibility, so Majka and his group arrived at six finalists "that had potential": Freeze, Northern Lights, Blue Ox, White Bears, Voyageurs and Wild.
The six names were pitched to the fans for feedback, and Majka admits, there wasn't a clear consensus.
"It was a bit of a 'pick em' situation as we got to the end," remembered Majka. "We liked the marketing potential of "Wild", so we went with it."
That was the reason for Majka's sweaty palms on that January night, because he knew not everybody would be on board with the new name, which was then unveiled in wordmark form.
"It wasn't as popular as we might have hoped, but we also knew we had more work in front of us," explained Majka.
From there, the Wild worked with New York design firm SME to come up with a logo that captured the wilderness and outdoors theme that Majka wanted to portray with the name and team identity.
"[SME] was fantastic," said Majka. "They really got the whole concept of what we were trying to communicate, and over the next year they worked with us to hone in on what the Wild name and logo should be all about.
"SME came up with 10 different concepts for the icon for the Wild. We did 300 one-on-one interviews with fans and showed them all 10. The eventual winner, now the Wild logo, was the faraway winner."
On November 18, 1999 at the John Rose Oval in Roseville (where the Wild will practice outdoors this Saturday), Majka readied for another unveiling, and this time, there was zero trepidation.
"I wasn't nervous that day, because the fans had clearly said 'this is the mark that tells me what a Wild is.'"
Since then, the Wild logo has been one of the top performing marks in the NHL. But what if they'd gone in another direction? To see what your Minnesota Wild could have looked like, we went to Minneapolis Creative agency, The Shinebox
. Their team of designers took a crack at designing logos and uniforms for the nicknames that didn't get the call:The Minnesota Blue Ox is pretty catchy, considering we're the home of Paul Bunyan's pet, Babe, who was the baddest blue ox in history. You have to imagine the Blue Ox would have a pretty solid mascot as well. Not surprisingly, blue is the primary color, which wouldn't be a problem for captain Mikko Koivu, who loves wearing the blue of his native Finland. Scoring his 14th goal of the season for the Minnesota Voyageurs is Brent Burns. There hasn't been a Minnesota team that has gone with black and silver as the primary colors, but seeing the Voyageur unis makes you wonder why not. The primary logo features a Voyageur navigating the harsh waters of one of Minnesota's many lakes or rivers. Of course, his paddle is a hockey stick. You also have to like the combo of white socks with the black jersey. Especially after the last couple of weeks we've experienced here (weather wise) in the Twin Cities, the Minnesota Freeze would have been an appropriate nickname. Cal Clutterbuck doesn't look overjoyed about playing for the Freeze, but the only folks that are likely sad about this nickname getting the ax were newspaper editors, who would have had a plethora of potential headlines on a daily basis: "Frozen Solid," "Iced Out," and "The Big Freeze" are just a few. The list is endless.If you wanted a more traditional nickname, then it would have been the Minnesota White Bears. As Marty Havlat shows, the colors would have been anything but traditional. A cream color is mixed with an Atlantic blue. The logo is rather simple, but also very classic. And for the grand finale, we present Nick Schultz, the all-time games played leader for the Minnesota Northern Lights. At first glance (at the top of the page), you'd think the Northern Lights sported similar colors to the Minnesota Vikings, but you'd be wrong. Look closer, and you'll see these jerseys are hyper color (remember those?), and actually change colors when heat is applied. As you can see, Schultz is breaking quite a sweat, causing the Aurora Borealis within the fabric to start changing color to a vibrant yellow.