Mayor gives Thorold Blackhawks hockey team deadline to change name

The mayor of Thorold says the junior and minor hockey teams that sport offensive logos and team names must change them by next June.

Teams that still wear "Blackhawks" logo must change name by June 1, 2017, mayor says

Thorold Blackhawks 2015-2016 captain Francois Plamondon, seen wearing the team's current uniform in a game in March. (Thorold Blackhawks)

The junior and minor league hockey teams in Thorold, Ont., near Niagara Falls, must change from being known as the Thorold Blackhawks by next June, the town's mayor says.

The deadline comes three years into a conversation the mayor has been having with the teams about switching from logos and mascots seen as offensive to First Nations people.

Mitch Baird, a First Nations resident of Thorold, says he first contacted the local team, and the city three years ago, over a logo he says is discriminatory.

Used since the early 1980s, it's a cartoon-like mascot resembling the Chicago Blackhawks crest.

"It's a caricature of a Native man, you know, with a big nose, and with a Cro-Magnon forehead, and of course, long black hair with feathers," Baird said. "All I wanted to have happen was a discussion on whether those images are still appropriate in 2016, and I think we're finding out the answer to that."

Arena scrubbed of Blackhawks logo

The city took the logo off of its arena last year, but the Junior B and minor league teams still sport uniforms with the character and name.

Mayor Ted Luciani says the teams have until June 1 of next year to switch team names and logos. 

Ralph Sacco, owner of the Junior B Thorold Blackhawks, said the team has developed a new logo but the cost of printing new uniforms has held up the transition process.