Prospective Flint owners have registered Generals nickname, already in use in OHL

The Plymouth Whalers name and colours would be retired once the franchise moves to Flint (Aaron Bell, OHL Images).
The Plymouth Whalers name and colours would be retired once the franchise moves to Flint (Aaron Bell, OHL Images).

While Wednesday was an emotional day for anyone with ties to the Plymouth Whalers, since the team is being sold and moved to Flint, Mich., for everyone else its means having a new city in the Ontario Hockey League next season. And a new nickname and colours.

A team never holds a naming contest without having (not always so) clandestinely have made the pick in advance. No doubt IMS USA, which will become owners of the franchise pending approval at an OHL board of governors meeting on Feb. 2, has several names in mind of Flint's new shinny concern. That includes a moniker that's particular to Flint, but has also been in use in junior hockey since long before the modern OHL was in existence.

From Aaron McMann (@AaronMcMann):

IMS Hockey Corp. of Flint has already registered the name "Flint Generals" and "Flint Generals Hockey" with the state of Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

When asked about this on Wednesday, [IMS USA's Costa] Papista declined comment. One other team in the OHL, in Oshawa, Ont., already sports the "Generals" nickname. (Flint Journal)

Cue the references to the days when the Canadian Football League had the Rough Riders and Roughriders.

The Michigan city's former minor pro team, which ceased to be in 2010, was named the Flint Generals, so it's understandable why there is a desire to reuse the name. Since junior hockey is by and large a local game with local followings, the fact that the Oshawa Generals are in the other conference of the OHL likely wouldn't pose a conflict in selling the team.

At the same time, given that Oshawa has been around for more than a half-century, allowing a new ownership group to create brand confusion seems unnecessarily awkward.

Meantime, the people's choice, at least based on a Twitter census, seems to be to adopt the Flint Tropics nickname from the 2008 Will Ferrell sports comedy Semi-Pro. It also appears to be not under copyright, just saying.

That could probably be the biggest thing a Michigan OHL team has done to create mainstream buzz since the Saginaw Spirit named a mascot after talk show host Stephen Colbert.

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Either way, there's ample time for the Flint ownership to pick a winner.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.