Senators in Need of a Rebrand

In the tumultuous times that the Ottawa Senators currently live, their image is connected with the ineptitude of their ownership and much of their management. It’s no secret that fans of the team are tired of the way the team is run. The Senators have been in the bottom of the league in average attendance in each of the last three seasons, as well as sitting in last place in 2019-20 with an average of only 12,000 fans when the season was paused. The current face of the Senators is, unfortunately, Eugene Melynk, and it gives the Senators a bad image, and that needs to change. A fantastic way of giving the team a new image is a rebrand of the current jerseys and logo.

Attendance has been an issue for years in Ottawa, but peaked during the 2019-20 season

A new set of sweaters and a new image would do wonders for the team that has been bogged down in negative press for years. With the Sens roster undergoing a commitment to younger, high skill players, the time is now for the club to undergo a full rebrand.

Related: Senators Ownership Problem Is an NHL Problem

The rebrand would include new jerseys and a new logo. Something new may allow fans to associate an excellent redesign to the team, rather than the negativity of the last four seasons. Introducing the new look alongside a hopeful top-three pick would put the Senators as one of the teams to watch in 2020.

The Youth Movement

Young Senators players like Brady Tkachuk, Collin White, Anthony Duclair and Thomas Chabot are the current franchise’s “stars” and thus are the players who come to mind for most people.

Related: Senators’ Bernard-Docker Poised for a Bright Future

However, the major excitement of Sens fans is centred on the diverse group of prospects that have yet to reach the NHL level. Jacob Bernard-Docker, Drake Batherson, and Josh Norris are poised to lead the Sens into their next era of competitiveness and that’s why a rebrand is so important.

Brady Tkachuk Ottawa Senators
Brady Tkachuk is among the new faces of the Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Having a unique set of jerseys to identify the new era in Sens history gives the fans something to support. Imagine seeing the next generation of forwards, led by Tkachuk, Batherson, and Norris, lead the team out in brand new threads. Imagine having the backend protected by Bernard-Docker and Chabot behind a new logo. As the team begins anew, it needs to have a symbol that can be recognized.

Past Examples of Rebrands

In the world of sports, teams have used rebrands to regenerate interest in their teams. Most recently, the National Football League has seen many teams change-up their images. A few teams who changed their jerseys like the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons didn’t really need to revitalize their image but wanted to keep the brand fresh. Other teams like the Cleveland Browns did need a change, and while the new uniforms did give the Browns some positive press, it wasn’t the most successful example of rebranding in football this offseason.

Related: Top 10 Nicest Current NHL Jerseys

The Los Angeles Chargers had been struggling for an identity since they moved from San Diego in 2017. The Chargers have a lot in common with the Sens in regards to their image. They were in a subpar stadium, consistently outnumbered by visiting fans, and became the second fiddle to the much more popular Los Angeles Rams. The Chargers corrected the first problem when they announced the move to the brand new SoFi Stadium a few years ago (albeit shared with the Rams) that is scheduled to open this season. They still had a problem with a lack of identity, which was corrected a few weeks ago when they unveiled the next stage of their rebrand.

The new uniforms had the entire NFL paying attention to the team. For the first time since their move to LA, the Chargers were being talked about for something other than their lack of fans. The Chargers said that the uniforms represented “60 years of Chargers history and make way for a new era of Chargers Football,” (From ‘Chargers unveil new uniforms: Six styles, throwback helmets, plenty of bolts,’ Los Angeles Times (04/21/20). So with the new stadium, new jerseys, and a new youthful collection of players, fans are looking forward to football in LA.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

This is what the Senators need. They need to have jerseys that celebrate the past of the franchise but push the team into a new era. It’s not just the NFL that has done this, all major sports franchises participate in this. In Europe, soccer teams change their jerseys yearly. These minor changes keep the uniforms fresh while maintaining the history they represent. While that is primarily done for the sake of sponsors, it still does keep the teams updated on a year to year basis.

The kachina jersey is an updated version of the Coyotes jersey of the 90s (via Arizona Coyotes/Twitter)

In the NHL, the Arizona Coyotes introduced the throwback kachina jersey in 2015, which is almost universally loved by both fans of the team, and the rest of the NHL. The Coyotes and their fans loved it so much, they made it their official alternate in 2018.

Related: Arizona Coyotes Logo History

Even the Toronto Maple Leafs, who introduced a new logo and jerseys in 2016, were able to capture the spirit of the franchise and symbolize a new era led by Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. The Anaheim Ducks brought back a new version of the Mighty Ducks jerseys of the 1990s and early 2000s to critical acclaim. When done right, the introduction of new jerseys can absolutely bring renewed interest to a team.

A New Senators Image

I asked Senators fans on Twitter about whether or not they would want the team to rebrand or change some aspects about their current image. The results were a resounding “yes,” with nearly 75 percent of those polled choosing the opinion to completely rebuild the team’s image. What I didn’t ask is what the Sens should do with the rebrand. The reason for that is that is thank I think the Sens should follow the lead of the Chargers.

Sens fans are ready for a rebrand

The Senators need a logo and jersey that both celebrate the franchise’s past success, and opens up the vision of the future. The current Senators jersey has been around in its current form since Reebok acquired the NHL uniform license in 2007. While the uniform did undergo slight changes when Adidas got the license, it remained practically the same.

Related: Ottawa Senators: State of the Franchise

The Senators’ current logo, a 3D stylized version of the original Sens logo has been also been around since 2007. The 3D logo is not generally liked by fans, and many have pushed for a move to the current alternate logo, or a return to the 2D logo of the 90s and early 2000s.

Alexei Yashin Ottawa Senators Rookie
The original Senators jersey, pictured in the 1993-94 season is among the fan favourites in terms of uniforms (THW Archives)

Modernizing the old logo accomplishes the best of both worlds. It pleases the fans who want a change, and those who prefer the older logo and would like it updated.

The Business Side

Rebranding a team is expensive, and the Senators’ current problems stem from an unwillingness to spend money. No matter how you feel about Melynk, he is still running a business, and he needs to be smart in how he runs it. What he needs to understand is that you need to spend money to make money. During the coronavirus pandemic, Melynk has shown up and helped his employees. (from ‘Senators owner Eugene Melnyk steps up for part-time staff in Ottawa, Belleville,’ Ottawa Sun, 03/18/2020)

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

If he wants fan interest to return, Melynk needs to show fans that he is committed to the franchise. If a rebrand works, you’ll make money back in merchandise, ticket sales, and most of all, jerseys. Money becomes secondary if it begins to change the narrative around the Sens. While the Sens may lose money short term, the rewards will come in the long term.

The Wrap-Up

The Senators brand has gone quite stale, and a rebrand is the best way to revitalize it. Change can be bad for some people, but in this case, it is what’s best for the franchise. Until the team is able to secure a new arena in downtown Ottawa, a new logo, new jerseys and a new state of mind may be the catalyst required to build some excitement.