Popular Sweepstakes Paved Way for Selection of “Sharks”
They came from as far north as Manitoba in Canada, as far east as Bar Harbor, Maine, and as far south as Coral Gables, Fla. One even came from Italy.
They came in the form of sea creatures, fictional characters and computer components. More than 2,300 of them were submitted by more than 5,700 entrants in hopes of winning the grand prize trip for two to the 1991 National Hockey League All-Star Weekend in Chicago.
What were these strange items? Entries in the national sweepstakes to help name the Bay Area NHL expansion franchise.
In a random sweepstakes drawing, San Jose attorney Allen Speare was selected as the grand prize winner. Other entries were submitted from participants representing California and nearly every other state and Canadian province. The top-15 names submitted, in alphabetical order, were: Blades, Breakers, Breeze, Condors, Fog, Gold, Golden Gaters, Golden Skaters, Grizzlies, Icebreakers, Knights, Redwoods, Sea Lions, Sharks and Waves.
Club management selected the team name “Sharks,” aided by suggestions acquired during the sweepstakes.
“The involvement of hockey fans throughout the Bay Area, the state of California and all over North America was outstanding,” said Matt Levine, then the team’s executive vice president of marketing and broadcast. “We were considering several alternatives for a name prior to the sweepstakes, but the creativity shown by many of the entrants was of great benefit to us.”
The “Name the New NHL Team” sweepstakes was designed to thank hockey fans for their initial support of a new team for Northerm California and to give them an opportunity to offer ideas for the new team’s name. Along with Speare’s grand prize, entrants were awarded an additional 200 sweepstakes prizes ranging from Stanley Cup videos and NHL publications to official NHL pucks and commemorative sweepstakes hockey stick pens.
In selecting a team name, club management was looking for something that would appeal to children and adults. It needed to be a name that would inspire graphic logo applications for uniforms, merchandise, promotional items, hockey educational materials, etc. “Sharks” fit all of the above and also made sense from other viewpoints:
- The neighboring Pacific Ocean is home to seven different varieties of sharks including the Great White, Leopard, Mako, Seven-gill, Blue, Soupfin and Spiny Dog. A specific area of the Pacific in the Bay Area is called the “Red Triangle” because of its shark population.
- Several area institutions provide great amounts of time and money to shark research, preservation and education, including the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco and the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC-Berkeley.
- And, as stated by Levine, “Sharks are relentless, determined, swift, agile, bright and fearless. We plan to build an organization that has all those qualities.”