Speculating on the Palm Springs new AHL team name

By Marc-Anthony Rosas

Overlook of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.
Photo by Marc-Anthony Rosas

Note: This is a sports opinion piece and is speculation.

  1. As the days get closer and closer to the 2021-22 season in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Palm Springs franchise has yet to select a name to represent the deserts new hockey team. 

 2. Since the announcement of NHL and AHL closing their doors everywhere, fans eagerly await the next 2021-22 season in hopes of being able to sit in arena seats cheering for their favorite teams again. As they count down the days, fans in the Inland Empire have been filling their spare time with speculations on the newest Palm Springs AHL team name and mascot for the upcoming season.

Undoubtedly, the current COVID-19 pandemic has hindered any current plans for the team to announce their name. On Mar. 12, the AHL and NHL both suspended their seasons because of the ongoing pandemic. As of May 11, the AHL has canceled the remainder of their season. 

Notably, the Palm Springs’ parent club and newest NHL franchise, Seattle, have also yet to announce their names. With such a long wait, hockey fans are left to speculate on what the teams’ monikers might be. 

For AHL teams, the franchise’s names take after their parent NHL team names. In a winged manner, the San Diego Gulls (AHL) fly with the Anaheim Ducks (NHL). Regally, the Ontario Reign (AHL) share a royal theme with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL). The San Jose Barracuda (AHL) and San Jose Sharks (NHL) prey on their enemies on the frozen water. As one can see, the Palm Springs team would have to follow suit with their new Pacific Division rivals. 

Up north in Seattle, many team names are being speculated amongst hockey fans everywhere. According to NBC Sports Northwest writer Lindsey Wisniewski, team names like the Totems, Rainiers, and Emeralds seem to be frontrunners. Other names that seem to also be popular are the Krakens, Metropolitans, and Thunderbirds.  

Where does the Palm Springs hockey team fit into all of this? Well, if they follow the trend of other AHL teams, the team name would have to correlate with Seattle’s. Larry Bohannan, a writer for the Palm Springs Desert Sun has already reported that the team’s ownership has filed a trademark claim for the Firebirds, which will likely be the team name at this point. However, more speculation about the desert’s newest hockey team is always fun. 

Possible names:  

Palm Springs Tahquitz 

Undoubtedly around the United States, Native American tribes have an influence on their surrounding locations. If the Seattle team were to go with a Native American influenced team name like the Totems or Thunderbirds, then the AHL team could possibly be the Tahquitz.  

According to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Tahquitz was the “first shaman created by Mukat, the creator of all things.” Tahquitz is said to be the “guardian spirit of all shamans and he gave them power to do good,” but began to use the powers for selfish reasons and was “banished” to what people now know as the San Jacinto Mountains.  

With such a story behind the name and its influence on the area, the hockey team brandishing the name would be good for the sport as it connects the team with its community. Also, the team’s new arena will be built in Agua Caliente. 

Palm Springs Thrashers 

A name familiar to many hockey fans in the early 2000s, the Thrashers would be a perfect name for the new Palm Springs franchise.  

The LeConte’s Thrasher is a bird native to the Coachella Valley and sounds like a menacing opponent. If the team’s parent franchise up in Seattle chooses the name of a former hockey team like the Metropolitans, the Thrasher’s name can work in a similar nostalgia factor. However, an obstacle does occur. The Winnipeg Jets, a current NHL team owns the rights to the name since they were the Atlanta Thrashers before the team relocated to Winnepeg in 2011. Nonetheless, if the ownership group somehow could get the team name, many fans could possible see themselves as Thrashers as well. 

Palm Springs Stellar Jays 

In a similar fashion as the Thrashers, the Stellar Jays team name would be a good one if utilized properly.  

The Stellar Jay bird is native to the San Jacinto Mountains, and even bears the same initials of S.J. Without a doubt, many hockey fans know that hockey has its strongest presence in Canada. If Stellar Jays were to be the name, it would be akin to the Toronto Blue Jays, the only Major League Baseball team in Canada. Such related names could bring in Canadian fans to the team, and could even put Palm Springs on the map as a vacation destination for them as well. 

Palm Springs Vipers 

Although no Vipers live in the Coachella Valley, this name could share a theme with either the Kraken or Thunderbirds if Seattle so chooses.  

The Viper is a dangerous predator all around the world, and fits in with a desert team like Palm Springs, and could share a commonality with the Kraken as such. In the aeronautical sense, the Viper does share a story with the Thunderbirds. The United States Air Force currently has an air demonstration team named the Thunderbirds and they currently use the F-16 Fighting Falcon as their jet of choice. Pilots of this plane have nicknamed it the “viper” for its resemblance of the snake.  

The name may be a stretch in its connection, but there is one. The Vipers would be a great foe across the league too. 

Palm Springs Sultans 

If Seattle were to take on a name based on their geographical area like the Rainiers, then the Sultans could be the cheesy name to match them.  

How does the Sultans match as a geographical term? The team name would be a play on words based on the Salton Sea that is close to the Coachella Valley. However, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that Sultan is reserved to “a king or sovereign especially of a Muslim state.” Although the word has been used in popular culture like the song “Sultans of Swing” by the Dire Straits, the ownership group would be the one to determine if they want to risk using that name. 

Photo provided by American Hockey League