A conversation I had this week got me thinking about the power of names...
Following a disappointing season in 1998 (including the nastiest dirt road ever) and several years of internal acrimony (several posts in its own right), Sockeye fell apart. Eight guys, mostly older, left to join up some Rhino and NYNY guys to make the super-whore-team Blaze of Glory. Those of us who were left set out to pick up the pieces. It was clear right away that the team was going to be nothing like it had been in the past. Whole sections of the offense (Shekky, Tommy, Federbush) had left and big chunks of the d-team's ability to score (Keith Monohan, Ricky Mel, Gary Brady, Jonny G) had gone too. We were a new team.
We recognized we were a new team and planned for a new name. I can remember sitting around in the Jaded House and throwing around possible names: Emerald City, Pod, who knows what all else. Nothing seemed any good. Finally after two weeks of one idiotic name after another, we gave up and became Sockeye again.
Immediately, the expectations and attitude of the team changed. We weren't some young, dumb upstart team anymore we were Sockeye! We were legit! We were contenders! (We weren't really, but that's not the point.) When we kept the name, we kept all the expectations. We kept the attitude. The three consecutive trips to finals in 95, 96 and 97? Ours. World Gold medal in 97? Ours.
Without the name would Seattle have still turned into the dominant team it was 2004-2008? Maybe. But maybe not. There is no way we would have won without the return of all the great Seattle juniors players (Nord, Chase, CK...), who at one point made up a third of the team. I know that a big pull for them was to play for Sockeye. Not Seattle necessarily, but Sockeye. All through those dark years of 99-03 (which Roger and I still call the Dark Years), we were buoyed by our expectations. By our Sockeye expectations. We kept chipping away at our inadequacies until we met and surpassed what had been.
Names have power. They carry with them the weight and strength of past achievements and expectations. That's why I get a little smile every time I see that Ring is still Ring and Chain is still Chain and the Lady Condors are still the Lady Condors. That's why I mourn a little for the loss of a team like DoG or Godiva or NYNY or Windy City.