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Why they’re the Chicago Blackhawks, not ‘Black Hawks’

A lot of times, I feel a little strange writing “Chicago Blackhawks.” Something doesn’t seem quite right about it. It’s sort of like spelling an old junior high favorite band, Soundgarden. Is it Soundgarden or “Sound Garden”? It boggles the mind, really. (It’s Soundgarden, though.) Joe Pelletier of Greatest Hockey Legends shares a history lesson on the subject. Apparently it’s been a question for the franchise since the team came into the NHL.

It was a question, at least, until the team officially decided to be the Blackhawks in 1986, according to Pelletier. He brings up the idea that maybe they made that decision for reasons beyond proper spelling.

The decision in 1986 to rechristen the team with the original one word spelling may have been a pre-emptive move to ward off future litigation. Over the years Native American groups have increasingly shown their objection the use of Indian names and logos for professional and college sports, such as the Blackhawks, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux. By reverting to the one word spelling I suppose the Chicago hockey team could argue their name actually honours a piece of military history, and therefor would not need to change their name or compensate any Native group.

You know, aside from that big Indian head they use as their logo.

Taking a cue from recent news, like the fact that North Dakota will no longer be the Fighting Sioux, it might be true that the organization is smart to cover their backs. Political correctness aside, mascots like the Blackhawks (and the more questionably named Washington Redskins) have deep roots in sports history. That makes them big-time brand names worth a lot of money.

So, if you’ve ever wondered, the proper way to spell the team’s name really is Blackhawks.