Since the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate announced its new name, we've been hard on the Iowa Chops. And by "hard," we mean "unremorsefully cruel to the worst name and logo in professional hockey." And no, trying to sign Brett Favre didn't help.
But there's another side to this story, and we invited Drew Van Woert to provide it. He grew up playing hockey in Des Moines and officiates youth hockey in Waterloo, Iowa. And he's here to defend the Iowa Chops: "It's taken so much time and energy to get the AHL in Des Moines, and I'd hate to damage its chances of staying because a few bloggers and people in the media hate it." Enjoy.
By Drew Van Woert
Love it or hate it, it's the new name and face of Iowa hockey.
Playing hockey in Des Moines, or anywhere in Iowa, you're in the vast minority. When you tell someone that you played hockey, the common response is, "Wow, in Iowa?" The state that is home to the Field of Dreams and the nation's largest high-school wrestling tournament often overlooks hockey. Hockey enthusiasts in Iowa have been working long and hard to force hockey into the spotlight.
I agree with a point Greg made to me that there is a huge difference between hockey in Iowa and the name "Iowa Chops," so I'll try to focus this on the name and why hockey lovers need to stop whining and support it. Because it's for the good of hockey.
First of all, for non-Iowans, what do you care what our team's name is?
Second, for Iowans, the Iowa Stars did not identify with Iowa. The stars at night are big in bright deep in the heart of Texas. Not Iowa.
Iowa is the No. 1 pork producing state in the nation. There are a lot of pigs here and we have great pork chops. It isn't just me who realizes this. The NBC affiliate in Des Moines held a vote on a popular Sunday evening sports talk show's Web site. When given Iowa Chops and several other names to vote on, guess which name won? That's right, the Iowa Chops.
Not only did they pay attention to the voting, Schlegel Sports interviewed Iowans and spoke with them to get a better idea of what Iowa is all about; our state identity. Love it or hate it, Iowans, it's no secret that we have a huge agricultural industry and a history with deep roots in agriculture. Corn, Soybeans and pork are what we do. So it seems so perfect to name our team something with ties to our people.
If nothing else it's a lot better than the Iowa Corncobs the Iowa Ice Beans or the Iowa Manbearpigs, right?
Actually, Iowa Manbearpigs might've been pretty cool.
Throughout the course of the interviews, Chops ownership also discovered that their ticket prices were way too high, something they should've noticed a long time ago. I remember going to a Stars game and sitting in the lower bowl for $20. It doesn't sound like a lot for those of you who attend NHL games, but like I said, in Iowa hockey plays fifth or sixth fiddle. If you don't really like hockey or are unfamiliar with it, you'll take your money elsewhere.
They've lowered ticket prices as low as $9 to sit in the lower bowl. Now that two people can attend a game for what one ticket used to cost, I'm hoping Iowans will put their opinion on the name aside and get to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines to watch some great hockey.
We have USHL teams, but we need this team at the AHL level. We need teams that will showcase players on their way to the NHL; much like the highly supported Iowa Cubs, the top farm team for the Chicago Cubs. Without a higher level of hockey the sport will never get a great foothold in Iowa.
With the self-proclaimed state of hockey to our north and many other great hockey states nearby (North Dakota and Wisconsin), Iowa seems like a logical place to expand the game. I'm pleading with real hockey fans, like the readers of this blog, to not tear down what the hockey lovers of Iowa have tried so hard to build.
Many Iowans are embarrassed that people think we're all farmers; we're not. But I'm one Chops fan who's not embarrassed to embrace our agricultural identity.
After all, I'm going to get to watch some great hockey and if I have to wear a pig on my shirt to do it, so be it.
So when the Iowa Chops take the ice in October, I believe the Anaheim Ducks will send us some high-intensity, physical hockey. So we're getting great hockey, a team name that identifies with Iowa and lower ticket prices.
I know a lot of you will probably still say "I still hate the name." But why not get over the name and start complaining about how the Chops are going to dominate the AHL this year?
Drew Van Woert is from Des Moines, Iowa. He currently attends the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Growing up, he played hockey in Des Moines, and now officiates youth hockey in Waterloo, Iowa. "But above all else, I love hockey."