They won’t be the Pirates.
Nor will they be Moosequitoes or Wharf Rats.
Portland’s newest professional hockey franchise will be nicknamed from one of five options that the team announced Thursday. The finalists were culled from 3,805 submissions during a name-the-team contest over the past few weeks:
– Mariners (whether Maine or Portland remains to be seen).
– Watchmen (think lighthouse keepers).
– Lumberjacks (Bunyanesque).
– Puffins (could make for a colorful goalie mask).
– Wild Blueberries (sounds rather juicy).
“I’m happy with any of the five,” said Adam Goldberg, vice president of business operations for the franchise, and the only team employee based in Portland so far. “I think all five have good value, a good connection to the area and some good marketing (possibilities) behind them.”
Fans can vote for their favorite on the team’s website, portlandmainehockey.com. The team will begin play at Cross Insurance Arena during the 2018-19 ECHL season.
The most popular suggestion, judging from entries received – harkens back to the area’s original pro hockey franchise. The Maine Mariners played in the brand-new Cumberland County Civic Center in 1977 as a member of the American Hockey League.
The Mariners instantly endeared themselves by winning the Calder Cup title in each of their first two seasons, the only franchise in AHL history to do so.
“I’m in for the Mariners redux,” said Lynda Hathaway, a longtime figure skating coach at Troubh Ice Arena who lives in Yarmouth. “I think it’s really cool. They could bring back that original Mariner team with Gordie Clark and Brian Burke and all the guys, the old-timers now.”
If Mariners is selected, there may be a few legal hurdles to clear because of trademark issues. Similarly, the Portland Lumberjacks currently do business (albeit one weekend in April) as a Professional Bowling Association team competing for the Elias Cup.
“The Watchmen, that was my second choice,” Hathaway said. “Because of the (Portland Observatory) watchtower up on Munjoy Hill, I thought that could be a nice symbol.”
Lindsey Bateman, 28, of South Portland, liked Watchmen best of all. Instead of a lighthouse or observatory, the name conjured images of the graphic novel and movie adaptation.
“It reminds me of everyday superheroes,” Bateman said while skating at Troubh Arena.
Rob Simopoulos, 40, of Cape Elizabeth, concurs. The Watchmen, he said, “seems like a role that’s strong and decisive and makes sure things are done right. A hockey team needs something like that.”
Andrew Rinaldi, 39, of Cape Elizabeth, is in Hathaway’s nostalgic corner.
“I think Mariners makes the most sense,” he said. “That’s what Portland is all about, right? Lots of people on the sea.”
Even though fans are being asked to vote for their favorite among the five nicknames, the team may not adhere strictly to the popular vote.
“It’ll be more of a fan suggestion of what they would like the team name to be,” Goldberg said. “We won’t go purely based on percentages. But I’d like to think we’re smart enough to know when something is wanted.”
The winning name will be announced in mid-September. A logo with team colors should be ready by late October or early November.
“Of course,” Goldberg said, “we want to be ready for the holiday season.”
The Portland Puffins has a nice ring to it, said Peter Dixon, 76, a former semi-pro hockey player in Connecticut who now lives in Cape Elizabeth, “but you’re not going to get cross-checked by a Puffin.”
Hold on, objected his lunchtime dining companion outside Taco Trio restaurant in South Portland.
“If you could be a Duck,” pointed out Michael Murphy, 79, of Cape Elizabeth, referring to the NHL franchise based in Anaheim, California, “you could be a Puffin.”
Another in their party of five, Priscilla Harrison, 70, addressed the most creative of the five choices.
“I love blueberries, especially wild ones,” she said. “But I can’t see that for a sports team.”
Three boys waiting for autographs from Sea Dogs baseball players Thursday afternoon between the ice arena and Hadlock Field’s left-field clubhouse all went with the juicy selection, independent of each other.
“I’d go with the Wild Blueberries,” said Ed Brewer, 13, of South Portland. “It’s unique. It stands out more.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or