Lethbridge defenceman Macoy Erkamps (Larry MacDougall, The Canadian Press)The Lethbridge Hurricanes, circa 1987, didn't take their name from the National Hockey League team that was established nearly 10 years later, but the jerseys they've worn for the past two seasons look familiar to NHL fans.
That team, the Washington Capitals, apparently don't like that the two sweaters look alike. Via Darrell Romuld of CTV Lethbridge:
President: The Lethbridge Hurricanes have been handed a timeline to change their uniforms by the Washington Capitals; Complained likeness.
— Darrell Romuld (CTV) (@CTVDarrell) March 21, 2013
The Hurricanes have had the red, blue and white colour scheme carried over from their days as the Calgary Wranglers (most of the historical WHL logos can be found on the indispensable sports logos.net) and minor teams, even unaffiliated ones, often like to pull designs from NHL clubs. The Capitals vibrant red and blue colour scheme and generic logo containing a hockey stick was probably more representative of the Southern Alberta city than naming a team after a storm typically found in the South Atlantic.
Lots of teams pull designs from NHL clubs. If the report is true, that the Capitals are indeed making the Hurricanes change their jerseys, just how far do you go? The logo used by the Hurricanes is familiar, but not identical. It's no more similar than, say, the Kingston Frontenacs logo to that of the Boston Bruins, not to mention the Kitchener Rangers.
I could see if the Capitals wanted alterations to the Hurricanes logo, but the Capitals jersey is a popular design used by minor teams nationwide due to its simple colour scheme and modern look. Look at the Simon Fraser University Clan of the British Columbia Interior Hockey League. If the Hurricanes replaced the logo with a simple word mark, would that pass? I doubt that the Hurricanes are making piles of money by selling the design of the Capitals, but the Washington franchise does have rights over their logos and designs. It just seems like an odd complaint to make.
Lethbridge aren't even the only WHL team to wear a similar design to an NHL club. The Spokane Chiefs look eerily familiar to the Montreal Canadiens. The Kamloops Blazers wore vintage jerseys in the playoffs that was a throwback to their days as an affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers. The Portland Winterhawks wear nearly the exact same sweater as the Chicago Blackhawks.
This also apparently isn't new to the Hurricanes. They were warned by Warner Bros, again, via Romuld, a few years ago when they used a creature similar to Taz the Tasmanian Devil as their primary logo. Between that and the bright Capitals-inspired sweater, the Hurricanes spent close to a decade with a wordmark logo pressed onto a bland shade of blue. The team's history page makes no reference to why the team was called "Hurricanes" in the first place.
At least a jersey redesign gives the Hurricanes something to do during the playoffs.
Update: According to Romuld, the Hurricanes will be flying with their alternate logo from this season full-time next year. We'll see if there's also a jersey change to go along with it.
Update 2: As Jeffler points out, the Windsor Spitfires also use the Capitals-inspired sweater, but their own logo, so the Caps' complaint is likely logo-related and not jersey-related.